Car shopping as an Engineer.

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Hello everyone, I have a really strange question.

I am currently shopping for a new truck and ive narrowed down my choices to the most obscure features. For example, between the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier; in the category of interior features I really like how the front pass. seat of the frontier folds flat to be used as a work surface.

Long story short, is this normal? i feel like i am looking at features the average consumers pass by.

How do you as an engineer shop for cars/trucks for person/family use?

and any input about the trucks mentioned would be great extra. ;)
 

PhanthomJay

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How do you as an engineer shop for cars/trucks for person/family use?
I wait for my car to break down to the point where I can't afford to make the repairs...then I buy what I can afford...which is usually a 15 year old beat up Chevy.
 
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How do you as an engineer shop for cars/trucks for person/family use?
I spend hours trawling autotrader, ebay etc etc. Come up with a list of about 10 different cars I would like to buy.

I go and look at all the different types of cars, and then buy a Golf.
Happens every time.
 
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PhanthomJay

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I go and look at all the different types of cars, and then buy a Golf.
Happens every time.
How do you fit 4 elephants into a VW Golf?

2 in the front, 2 in the back (sorry for this old joke in reference to the VW Beetle):uhh:
 

FlexGunship

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After researching which car to buy for eons while carefully developing evaluation matrices to cover all of the aspects you find most important and weighting them appropriately, you start to read individual reviews by different car reviewing guides. After that, you register for the forums of your top three cars and read about the most common problems and average cost-to-repair for each one. You finally calculate the total cost of ownership of your three top selections, take into account any last considerations...

...and inevitably decide on a Subaru STi and then dream about also having a Subaru WRX wagon.

2010-05-16%2011.03.40.jpg
 

AlephZero

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The decision process for the last car I bought (November 2009) was quick and simple.

Old car cracked head gasket. Cost of repair would have been about the same as the value of the car. By good luck, the UK goverenment had just widened its "cash for old bangers" subsidy scheme to cover my old car (first registered just 3 days inside the limit!)

So I went to the nearest multi-franchise car sales company, with a clear idea what I wanted in terms of size and performance, and took the best "special offer" on whatever new cars met my specification and were physically it stock on that day.

Total time to purchase (including a test drive), about 90 minutes. New car delivered 3 days later. Job done.

Number of problems in the first 14 months and 15,000 miles, zero. First service coming up in another 3,000 miles (which is free, as part of the special offer package.)

But of course the pessimist mech engineer inside me says "there is no way this can get any better, therefore it is going to get worse" :smile:
 
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...and inevitably decide on a Subaru STi and then dream about also having a Subaru WRX wagon.
I just don't get the appeal of (most) Japbox cars in general, or the continued obsession with the Impreza. I'll admit I was a fan back in the mid 90's, but on reflection that's only because of McRae's 555 WRC car.

I'm just wondering what attracts you to the car?

EDIT: Sorry about being a car bore.
 
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turbo

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When my father needed a new car (his old supercharged Buick was deadly-dangerous, especially in the winter), I did a LOT of research and settled on the 2009 Subaru Forester. Seat-height was perfect for ease-of-entry for an 83-year-old (at the time) with arthritic knees, and the Sport-shift automatic transmission gives a lot of control over towing, traction, etc, without clutching. It took hours of having him shuttle the salesman, sales manager, general manager, etc out to the parking lot to negotiate with me (I can play the same game that they do), but I got them down to $19,995.

A couple of weeks later, my wife drove his Forester when they went to my brother's house for a visit. When she got home, the first words out of her mouth were "Buy one for yourself!" "I never want to see you drive that Nissan (4x4 PU) in the winter again." She was right. Traction control, full-time AWD, antilock braking, active skid control, etc are all a big deal here in Maine. Need to have tools handy? Put them in the rear, and you can stand under the rear hatch to work with them if the weather is crappy. Need more room for tools and supplies? Fold down part or all of the rear seat, and you have a virtual truck-bed's worth of very flat covered space at your disposal. My pickup now only goes to the dump (landfill-transfer-recycle, actually) or gets taken out when I need to pick up an appliance or help someone move furniture.
 
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Mech_Engineer

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I just don't get the appeal of ... the continued obsession with the Impreza ...

I'm just wondering what attracts you to the car?
Drive one, and you'll understand. It's fast, nimble, and did I mention fast?

Overall I'm not surprised that an engineer would apply a trade-off study when shopping for a car. I've done the sort of thing before; narrowing down features in a car is like narrowing features in an electric drive motor or certified fastener...
 
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I spend hours trawling autotrader, ebay etc etc. Come up with a list of about 10 different cars I would like to buy.

I go and look at all the different types of cars, and then buy a Golf.
Happens every time.
I bought a GTI, and I will never by another VW again unless it is fully covered under warranty. Its a really nice, fun car, but I get so incredibly mad with VW's engineers. They have to be straight out of high school they are just so stupid. I do not understand how anyone can launch a car know full well that every car has at least 5 things that will break on every single car before it reaches 50k miles. You have to realize these things when you build the prototypes don't you? And they aren't that hard of problems to solve. The idler pulley is not rated for the red line of the car (Way to go VW!). The coolant temperature sensor fails on most cars around 30k miles. Its just ridiculous how shotty their cars are.
 
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Drive one, and you'll understand. It's fast, nimble, and did I mention fast?
I have, it wasn't the WRX though, so maybe I was missing out on the magic. I also find the leery bonnet scoop and silly spoiler slightly vulgar, and I hate noisy atmo dump valves.

Maybe it's becuase in the UK they were driven almost exclusively by chavs that ruined the car for me.

jefswat said:
I bought a GTI, and I will never by another VW again unless it is fully covered under warranty. Its a really nice, fun car, but I get so incredibly mad with VW's engineers. They have to be straight out of high school they are just so stupid. I do not understand how anyone can launch a car know full well that every car has at least 5 things that will break on every single car before it reaches 50k miles. You have to realize these things when you build the prototypes don't you? And they aren't that hard of problems to solve. The idler pulley is not rated for the red line of the car (Way to go VW!). The coolant temperature sensor fails on most cars around 30k miles. Its just ridiculous how shotty their cars are.
Sounds like you bought a MK4. It's the reason why most dub owners do stuf themselves, dealers are clueless morons. They are undoubtedly flawed cars, and common as muck and the later ones are too fat and don't like going round corners. But for some reason I love them. The MK1 and MK2 Gti's really were special.
 

russ_watters

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How do you as an engineer shop for cars/trucks for person/family use?
I'm a project engineer/project manager, so I put out an RFP and got bids. Worked out great!
 

Mech_Engineer

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I'm a project engineer/project manager, so I put out an RFP and got bids. Worked out great!
I did too actually, when we shopped for my wife's last car we asked dealerships to give us their best offer, and we chose the lowest! My wife thought it was absolutely ridiculous haha.
 

FlexGunship

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I'm just wondering what attracts you to the car?
  • 300hp
  • full-time AWD
  • adjustable center differential
  • boxer engine (low center of gravity)
  • super reliable and efficient VF39 turbo
  • 6spd transmission
  • easily sustains 20psi with stock heads, gaskets, and valves
  • top-mount intercooler
  • sedan
  • plenty of trunk space
  • endlessly customizable (all standard sizes for radio, etc.)
  • reliable
  • easy to work on (you can disassemble the entire interior with a screwdriver, a 10mm wrench, and a plastic knife)
  • huge Brembo brakes

I actually don't know of any other cars that compete with it in it's price range. I really mean that. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo is probably the closest, but it doesn't even come with power windows and climate control.

I drive the same car on the track in the summer and through 12" snow drifts in the winter and the only thing I change are tires. Give me a list of competitive cars.

BTW, since I've bought it, I have:

  • K&W custom springs and dampers
  • Whiteline front strut support
  • ATI gauge pod with Maddad cluster-matched gauges
  • Cobb realtime engine tuner
  • SPT intake
  • ERZ catted 3" downpipe
  • Stromung custom fitted 3" catback ( not my car, and the video can't do it justice... it purrs... it doesn't fart like other Subies)
  • Hawk HPS pads
  • Sparco Fighter seat
  • 235/45/R17 Direzza Z1 Star Specs for racing
  • 225/45/R17 Nexen n3000s for all-season driving

It is the safest car you will ever ride in. I can swerve around an accident at 70mph on the highway. Out run an explosion. Stop on a dime. And I always always always know what my car is doing under me; not like so silly SUVs will you bounce around until you finally smash into a guard rail with a surprised look on your face. It's predictable to an absurd degree and it never lets me down.
 
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FlexGunship

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I have, it wasn't the WRX though, so maybe I was missing out on the magic. I also find the leery bonnet scoop and silly spoiler slightly vulgar, and I hate noisy atmo dump valves.
I have the STi.

The Impreza base is 130hp, the 2.5RS is about 155hp. The WRX [is/was] a 210hp model (now up to 270ish). The STi was 300hp (now up to 310ish). The STi defines "nimble" for a vehicle. I've spanked a Lotus Elise on the track before. The car can turn much harder than I could handle (which is why I bought a seat with more side support).

I'm not big on the spoiler either, but its grown on me. Mostly because it's my car. Its the same way your child's nose looks ugly to everyone but you.

This year in the Sports Car Club of NH first place was a modified WRX (my friend... he's an awesome driver... grrr). Second place was my STi. 4th place was another WRX. You can't see it in the pic, but 6 of the top 10 were WRXs or STis. And it's NOT because there weren't other competitors.

results2010.png
 
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That'll be the problem then, I was missing out on about 150bhp.

EDIT: Was that an autotest?
 
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I rate cars by:

a. Reliability
b. Economy
c. Zoom factor.

In 2007, that worked out to be a Mazda3 with the small engine. Four 40 MPG tanks and a lot of 37-39 MPG tanks. Zooms quite nicely by my standards.

My wife needs a car to replace her 1998 24-valve Ford Taurus (more than a few 30 MPG tanks and a nice zoom factor). I will be asking her to choose between an Accord, Civic, Fusion or Focus. The 2012 Focus is predicted to be a world-beater when it come out in late spring.

I travel and use rentals quite a bit. The 2009 Milan was the best all-around car I've rented in the last 3 years. The 2010 Civic was second. I assume that the Accord and Focus will mimic their brothers.

Regards
Jason
 
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I've been made fun of before because of what I look for in a car. Apparently most people just see how a car looks and they like it or not. What interests me is the technical aspects of the car. The nuts and bolts. I know what I want my car to do (be reasonably fast, be nimble, and most of all, make the car feel like an extension of my body) and I know what engineers do to cars to make them this way.

Double wishbone suspension. Powerful engine. Even weight distribution. Rear wheel drive. Manual transmission, etc etc.

I also have some quirks. I prefer a high revving engine. It makes me feel more involved with the machine. I also don't like extra weight. No extra seats, no extra doors, no extra sound deadening. If it's not helping me feel at one with the car, I probably don't like it (within reason, of course).

Basically, I want a motorcycle. But, until they figure out how to solve this whole "death" thing, I want 4 wheels. For the price, the best thing that fits this description of a car that I found was this thing:

800px-Ap1s2000.JPG


Unfortunately, I took something like a 75% pay cut, can no longer afford it and so it's for sale. I don't want to drive anything else. I'll probably just stick to the tram from now on :(
 

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