Engine and Transmission World

Engine and Transmission WorldIf you’re been suckered or tempted to buy an engine or transmission from Engine and Transmission World,  you have my sincere sympathies. You and I are among dozens of people, nationwide, who have either lost a lot of money or spent countless, fearful hours of frustration and fear regretting the decision to place an order with this ‘less-than-reputable’ online reseller of engines and transmissions. In my case, Engine and Transmission World eventually did deliver the goods, but at the time-consuming expenses of a huge labor bill for a 2nd Install from my repair shop and the $395 cost of a 2-year warranty which looks dubious at best.

Problems with Engine and Transmission World

Right now, my BMW 540i is running fine after the first transmission was sent to my Arvada repair shop, Colorado Engine, dead-on-arrival. Three months later, I’m out about $3500. Only $1,745 of my total bill was paid for the actual Transmission; $395 of which was for a 2-Year extended warranty which I thought was the prudent thing to do. Obviously, any repair shop would charge labor for installation and diagnostics of the faulty transmission. Removing and installing  a transmission is a fairly labor intensive job. They aren’t going to uninstall and re-install the 2nd one for free. To the credit of Engine and Transmission World, they did get the 2nd transmission shipped free, to Colorado Engine fairly promptly and it did work. However, there are two other problems: One: The warranty has still not been activated. Two: Their advertised mileage on Engines and Transmissions is fishy and that’s putting it nicely. It appears to be an outright sham – as I will explain.

Engine and Transmission World False Mileage Claims

Okay, so here’s the scam: Go to the Transmission World Parts Search page to search for your engine and transmission. You will be taken to a configuration page that says, “Check our Inventory”: The first time I typed in the details of my model,  a results page came back that said it had found a transmission with only 58,000 miles on it. Imagine how delighted I was to get a transmission with such low mileage. I was also very suspicious and asked them to provide a Carfax report of the car and Vin # this transmission of the car this transmission was pulled. They agreed to do so, but not until the order was paid for. I had to beg and plead for 2 days before they finally sent me a half-baked copy of a transmission with 38,000 miles on it from an old 740i.  To make matters worse, long after the transmission was shipped, the same search turned up the same result. I had a buddy at work type in his car and also came up with very dubious, low-mileage results on engines and transmissions. The last time I checked it appears this company wisely no longer lists the mileage on their  transmissions and engines online.  Many others customers complained online about Engine and Transmission World and the way they falsely advertise parts that they don’t actually have in inventory. It appears that they simply source the part after they get the order and if you put them to test on the mileage they will dig up anything they can find to appease you. I noticed it was much more difficult communicating with Engine and Transmission World after they already had my money. When I had problems with the first transmission, I was put on hold for several minutes. Eventually, a very rude guy answered the call and when I told him my transmission didn’t work he told me it was because my repair shop didn’t  install the filter. If I continued to have problems, they would need to call them directly. I verified with Colorado Engine that they most certainly did properly service and install the transmission with filter. Apparently, certified mechanics have a little more clout because after Colorado Engine called them, I was told a 2nd transmission was on the way. Thankfully, this one worked, but I was very afraid to even ask about the mileage on this particular transmission. Nobody knows, hence the reason for a 2 year warranty which brings me to the 2nd and current problem I had with this online transmission company.

 Warranty Policy of Engine and Transmission World

The warranty I purchased from was $395.00 for two years which covered replacement of a transmission and up to $500 labor cost to repair it. Unfortunately, DOA transmissions don’t count. Transmission has to be installed and working properly for two months before the warranty kicks in. Does this sound like a company that stands behind it’s products and low-mileage false advertisements? Absolutely Not. The last nail in the coffin was when I got a letter from a company called, ELast Warranty in Montana. Apparently, this is a contractor that warrants the products for them. My letter came with a bottle of fluid additive. Included with the letter, were instructions which require me to take the car back to a certified shop to have a complete oil change and the additive installed within 14 days before they will activate the warranty. For one thing, any certified BMW mechanic will tell you that it is not a good idea to install anything other than OEM factory fluids to keep your car running properly. The 2nd thing is cost. I just paid for a brand new synthestic, Mobile-1 Oil change prior to bringing my car into the shop for the dead transmission. Now, they are going to charge me another $150-$200 before I can use my warranty. Yesterday, I called Engine and Transmission World to ask them to drop the warranty and refund my money. I was placed on hold for two minutes before a rude-sounding guy once again answered the phone, Parts. When I began explaining the reason for my call he put on hold without saying another word.   I have no where else to turn: Do I just bite the bullet and take the 2 year warranty? Do I complain to a legal authority?  For now, I decided the best thing I could do is warn everyone NOT to use this company.

Transmissions Rebuild Cost

Transmission Rebuild CostThe reason I couldn’t rebuild my current transmission was that the core was damaged. Colorado Engine could have sold me a core and rebuilt the transmission for a total of around $2900. That’s $600 cheaper than I paid and erases all the doubts and hardships of buying from an uncertain reseller online.  The transmissions rebuild cost runs around $1300 to $1500 and usually come with a 3 to 6 month warranty. I’m convinced that the cost to find a new core and rebuild a transmission is cheaper than finding a used one, supposedly with low mileage that works. One thing is for certain: if you can find a good core both the labor and transmissions rebuild cost are certainly cheaper and safer than Engine and Transmission World.

 

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Mityvac 7400 Engine Oil Extractor

mityvac 7400
mityvac 7400

A Review on the Mityvac 7400

Engine Oil Extractor Method of changing Oil

If you’ve googled the term, fluid extractor, you’ve probably discovered the Mityvac 7400 Engine Oil Extractor. The Mityvac 7400 is the most often used and reviewed car engine oil extractor on the internet.  But the Mityvac 7400 is more than just a car oil extractor. This product comes in real handy if you want to change a variety of fluids in your car without having to get under the vehicle and get your Sunday clothes dirty. You can use the Mityvac to change your transmission fluid, differential fluid, power steering, brake fluid, coolant and just about any other fluids that you would otherwise have a hard time getting underneath your car to drain.  The Mityvac 7400 makes it easy, but  is removing fluids this way really as convenient as changing your oil the old fashioned way?

Is it easier than an Old Fashioned Oil Change?

Using the Mityvac for Changing Oil

In my case, I tried the Mityvac for the first time for removing oil from a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta which had a non-standard diameter; and very tightly fastened drain plug. I didn’t want to jeopardize the lock-tight seal on the drain plug and risk the future oil leaks associated with old, used cars. Knowing that there were products made for these situations, and knowing that I have the same drain plug problem with my 1997 5-Series BMW, I thought it would be useful to have one for all of the other fluids changes that I’m hesitant to perform on these used cars. My research led me to the Mityvac product which had many positive, 4-star reviews by satisfied users and owners of a variety of different car manufacturers and models. As positive as these reviews were overall, there were some complaints too, as there always are.

How to use the Mityvac 7400

Using the Mityvac 7400 fluid extractor for oil changes is almost as easy as pumping up your basketball tires. Make sure your engine is warm, but not hot. Connect the plastic tubing to the pump; remove your dipstick and insert the tube all of the down the inside of the dipstick gauge until you feel it touching the bottom of your oil pan. Begin pumping the handle up and down just like a bicycle pump. In a matter of seconds, you’ll notice oil flowing up from the tube and down into the cylinder-shaped canister. It took me about 10 minutes to extract the 4 quarts of oil from the 2003 Jetta. Sounds good so far, right? Hang on.

What’s not to like about Changing your Oil this Way?

Removing the oil was the easy part. What’s left to do was the messy part. As with any oil change, the oil filter is usually dripping with oil. When I removed the oil filter, gobs of dirty oil dripped inside the floor of the engine shield. I could not reach it without elevating the car. I was forced to back up and use the ramps to clean the mess that was made. Then, I had these messy tubes full of old engine oil. I didn’t feel good about leaving the oil in them, so I pumped water through the system a few times to clean the tubes and cylinder. When all was said and done, the Mityvac 7400 did not save me any time with my oil change. On the other hand, the product did allow me to change the oil without loosening a plug and risking damage or leaks from the oil pan. It’s also nice knowing that I can change other fluids without having to reach hard-to-get places, bolts and plugs. Don’t buy any fluid extractor thinking it’s a mess-free, easier and quicker way to change your oil. Do buy it if you want to avoid the hassle and risks associated with stripped oil drain plugs or other fluids with difficult to reach drains. In those cases, the Mityvac engine oil extractor represents a useful way to safely change your car fluids.

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Car Insurance Ratings

Car Insurance Ratings
Top-10 Auto Insurers

The latest 2010 car insurance ratings are now posted online from JD Powers.  Previously, we posted the Car Insurance Ratings for 2008, here: 2008 Car Insurance Ratings. Not a whole lot of details are given on the JD Powers website about how they come up with these particular car insurance ratings.  The results this year are very similar to their insurance ratings from 2008 and 2009.  Every year, JD Powers rate the best automobile insurers on 5 different criteria:

 

  1. Overall Satisfaction
  2. Contacting the Insurer
  3. Policy Offerings
  4. Billing and Payment
  5. Pricing

Using this same data, Product Review Ratings breaks these ratings down into a Top-10 Car Insurers List: The difference in these Top-10 insurance, is that the overall satisfaction score is averaged in along with the other five criteria to derive an Overall Rating score on a 100 point scale. Using this embellished set of criteria, the outcome changes ever so slightly over the original JD Powers Ratings and should provide a clearer picture of which car insurance companies rate best, overall. Product Review Ratings Auto Insurance Ratings criteria are as follows:

  • Experience: (Customer’s Overall Satisfaction)
  • Options: (Car Insurers Policy Offerings)
  • Pricing: (Car Insurance Policy Price)
  • Billing: (Satisfaction with billing methods and issues)
  • Contact: (Contacting the Insurer)
  • Overall: (Overall Rating based on above scores, 1-100)

Ratings 2011

This Top-10 list should be used as a guide only – a rough place to get started. Look at the top-10 insurers by JD Powers and compare for yourself. The insurance ratings are not all created equal. Unfortunately, JD Powers does not offer a detailed report on how they came up with the insurance ratings in each of these categories. One huge factor that is not taken into account, here, is how combining auto insurance with a homeowners insurance policy can drastically reduce your Auto Insurance cost or vice versa. Some of the cheapest-looking car insurance companies aren’t as cheap as they seem when you factor in a home owners discount. For those of us who own homes, it doesn’t pay to switch to a cheaper auto insurance company if the cost of a home owners policy negates those savings. For the 2nd time in the three year period that I’ve reviewed these car insurance ratings, Amica has come up on top. I was unable to go back and see if the 2009 JD Powers auto Insurance Ratings reported the same. With Amica receiving perfect scores in every category every year, including cost, I would expect to know a few very satisfied Amica Car Insurance Policy owners. This was not the case. Since writing the 2008 article on auto insurance ratings, I’ve recommended Amica a few times to family and friends. Surprisingly, I have yet to find one person who switched after giving Amica a call? Why? Because, Amica was not as cheap as their current auto insurance policy. For a company who ranks best on price year after year, this is kind of surprising isn’t it? In fact, Amica is the only auto insurance company JD Powers ranks a perfect 5 of 5 stars for price. I can only think of a few things that could cause this discrepancy. Obviously, a great deal of other variables come into play: Credit Rating, geographic area, Home-Owners, demographics, driving record and even the type of cars being insured could reflect a different outcome for some people shopping the same insurance company. The lesson here is that what works for some may not be what is best for everyone. Still, if you’re looking for place to get started, these Top-10 car insurers will serve as a great short-list of places to call first.

Top 10: Car Insurance Ratings

top 10 insurance ratings

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RAV4 Review

RAV4 Reviews
Black Toyota RAV4

You’ve seen RAV4 after RAV4 Review for the last 5 years, now that I’ve had a chance to drive one for a while, it’s time for me to weigh-in and add additional insight to the many other reviews on the RAV models. To begin with, I leased a 2011 Toyota RAV4 for a couple of reasons:

  • The Lease Deals on Toyota RAV4s are phenomenal
  • The RAV4 V6 Model provides outsanding horsepower for roughly the same gas mileage as other, less inspiring 4 Cylinder SUVs for the same price: For example, the Honda CRV.
  • I read the RAV4 Reviews from 2006-2011

It’s what You Like

While these were the two factors that led me to look this SUV, the reviews from Magazines and Consumers convinced me I’d be happy driving one for the next 3 years. When the current generation of the RAV was released 5 or 6 years ago, I test-drove a 4 Cylinder model at my local dealer before I even looked at any of the brand new reviews. Like all Toyotas, the RAV4 had a solid, quiet ride with great handling. . What I didn’t care for was the anemic power of the 170HP 4 Cylinder engine and the outrageously high lease payment from $400 – $500 per month. The RAV reviews consistently fail to mention that the upgrade in price from the 4-Cyl to the 6-Cyl is not too steep and uses up very little extra gas. The salesman at the dealership accurately stated that because the new model had just been released, the resale value had not yet been established resulting in a higher than average lease payment for a car in the $23,000 to $27,000 range. This was something the very positive review would soon help. Raising the demand and raising the residual value. I decided to wait for those new reviews to pile up before going back for another look.

Personal Experience

Five years later, the 2006, 2007 and 2008 rendition of the RAV4 is now at the end of its lifespan. For the last 18 months, 2009, 2010 and 2011 RAV4s have had some of the best lease deals going. I opted for the 269HP Base V6 model. The Base Model MSRP is around $25,460. Mine came with the upgraded value package which adds 6-Disc, in-dash CD Changer, 17” Wheels, Rear Privacy Glass, Full Size Spare, Day Time Running Lamps, Tonneau Cover and some other minor accessories. Something you don’t see in RAV4 Reviews, is too much of an explanation on these confusing options, but I digress. This brought the MSRP up to around $27,000 including dealer handling fees. My Lease payment is $280.00 a month before taxes and with nothing down. Actually, I got a check back from the dealer for $547.00 to cover the termination fee and last payment on my 2009 Subaru Legacy Lease. With the check figured into the deal, my real Average Monthly Lease Payment is only $265.00. As the Monthly Car Lease website indicates, a 36 month lease payment for under $300.00 is almost unheard of for a $27,000 Car. A 2011 Subaru Outback V6 model equipped and priced the same, would put me in the $400 a month payment range. There is something else the RAV4 Reviews don’t tell you. They make amazing Lease Deals.  I love Subaru, but didn’t want to pay that much extra for one. And gets even better than that: The dealer threw in a 24-month maintenance package which includes free tire rotation and oil changes. That’s with the expensive, Mobile 1 Oil, too! So, now that you know what the car is going to cost me to drive for the next three years, it’s time to tell you how it drives and what I like and don’t like about the 2011 Toyota RAV4. Rav4 Reviews aside, here is my take.

What I Like about the RAV4

  • V6 Performance
  • Sporty Handling
  • 6-Disk CD Changer, MP3 and Auxillary
  • Great Gas Mileage for a V6
  • Cargo and Storage Capacity
  • AWD / Traction Control
  • Sporty Looks

What I Don’t Like about the RAV4

  • Lacking in Features and Amenities
  • Some unknown rattles here and there
  • Too many RAV4s already on the Road

Performance and Fuel Economy

By far, the most impressive thing about this car is the engine. The 269HP not only feels lightening-quick from 0-60, but is very smooth and quiet doing it. The power of the engine and transmission work flawlessly together to give you very quick, smooth and quiet acceleration. When the RAV4 is at a stop, I can barely hear the engine running. Here’s what really sets the performance version of the RAV4 apart from the competition. It’s V6 engine gets reasonable gas mileage; 19/26MPG. This is only a MPG or two below what the 4 Cylinder RAV4s and Honda CRVs are getting. With 100% city driving, my wife is averaging around 21MPG to and from the school where she works. Acuras, Mazdas and Foresters use a turbo engine in their performance models. Not only do they get worse gas mileage, but they require the significantly more expensive premium fuel. Due to such lousy, cold, snowy weather, I have not had the opportunity to drive the RAV4 west on I70 to the mountains of Colorado.

Cargo, Storage Capacity and Interior Features

The RAV4 not only hold a great deal of cargo for an SUV this size, but it is easy to get your cargo in there. The rear seats fold flat in a heart beat. Underneath, the back floorboard, by the lift gate is a lid which reveals a hidden, 12” high compartment for storage of small items.(Very Handy). I also love the size of cup holders. The front ones even come with an extra attachment for holding skinnier sized glasses and cups. The are roomy side pockets by each seat, and a extra-large, two-compartment console between the driver and passenger. The in-dash, 6-Disk CD Player was simple to use the first time I tried it. One of my 6 disks was a collection of MP3 songs which the CD Player had no problem recognizing. There is also an auxiliary jack for connecting the stereo to your MP3 Player or iPhone/iPod, etc. The controls are very easy to learn. I’m not an XM Radio fan, but it is equipped with a 3 month trial. The Sunglasses compartment above is nice to have.

AWD/Traction Control and Handling

The RAV4 steering wheel feels very good in your hands when you’re on the road. If not for the higher clearance, this SUV handles very much like a nimble, mid-sized car. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to use it in three snow storms so far, and the RAV4 really does well on ice. While, the RAV4 is AWD, with the push of a button it can be locked into 4WD mode so both axels turn simultaneously in situations that require extra traction. V6 RAVs are also equipped with a hill-descent control button which I have yet to try.

Sporty Looks

Some have referred to the RAV4 as being somewhat bland. I thought the minor cosmetic changes which began with the 2009 models, make it a pretty attractive Compact SUV. I much prefer its looks to the Honda CRV and those crazy tall vertical tail lights in back.

What is the RAV4 Missing?

There are a few things I really miss from my previous 2009 Subaru Legacy SE:
The built-in Homelink Garage Door Opener was very useful. Not only does the RAV4 lack this feature, but the thickness of the sun visor makes it impossible for my garage genie door opener to clip to it. I have to keep it stored in front inside the little coin change holder where it’s difficult to reach. I’m surprised that the RAV4 doesn’t come with a trip computer for telling how much gas you’ve used and how much gas is left in the tank. Fortunately, the RAV4 is equipped with somewhat of a crude trip computer which provides you with the outdoor temperature, gas mileage and instant gas mileage. My favorite feature of all that I dearly miss from the similarly priced Legacy SE was the automatic engine starter. Don’t underestimate the convenience of being able to safely start and warm up your car on a -10 degree day. Now, here’s the biggest complaint from my wife so far: The RAV4 does not have automatic headlights. The salesman told us that the lights will shut-off by themselves if left on too long, but I have yet to test his accuracy on that claim. The Daytime Running Lights do provide you with some additional safety in the event you forget to turn your lights on, but the downside is that they can fool you into believing you’ve actually turned your headlights on. Gotta be careful with the headlights on this car!

Other, Minor RAV4 Quirks

I’ve noticed some very subtle vibration coming from the dash; almost like a rattle. I’ve yet to discover what is causing this. The interior of the RAV4 seems very susceptible to rattles caused by items placed within compartments and consoles. This is strange considering the V6 engine is so smooth and idles and accelerates so quietly. We’ve also noticed some squeaking of the brakes.It could be they need to be broken in, but if it continues, I will have to take it into the dealer and have it checked out.

Overall Driving Impressions: RAV4 Reviews Itself

Car and Driver, which rates the RAV4 very highly, suggests that the V6 engine might be overkill for most people. I could not disagree with them more. The V6 RAV4, which outperforms a number of sports sedans, is where this car really shines and serves its purpose on hilly mountain roads with 4 or 5 passengers and luggage. For the same price, I realize I could have leased a leather-trimmed, more fully equipped 4-Cylinder RAV4 with a few of the bells and whistles that are missing on the V6 Base Model / Value Package. I have never given it a second thought. The V6 RAV4, with its acceleration, traction, handling and high clearance gives me a feeling of confidence and authority both on wet and dry roads. All of these virtues will become even more greatly appreciated when I take the RAV4 on that first road trip. If there is one thing RAV4 Reviews and other Car Reviews don’t measure, it’s how the car feels the first time you take it up to the hills.

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Car Leather Conditioner and Restoration

Car Leather Conditioner
– A Review

Car Leather Conditioner
Turtle Wax Leather Conditioner

Best Product for Car Leather

Turtle Wax Products always seems to give me the most bang for the buck when it comes to car care. A month ago, my Best Car Wax review revealed that Turtle Wax outperformed many of the more popular, highly publicized brands like Mother’s and MeGuire’s. The same seems to be true for Car Leather Restoration and Car Leather Conditioner products. I’ve tried a few of them. I was very underwhelmed with Armour All Leather Wipes. In fact, I think I’ll stay away from all car car cleaning products in the wipe form. In my opinion, wipes should be found in the bathroom and diaper bag, not your garage. After wasting 3 or 4 of the leather conditioning wipes on the front and back seats of my car, I had a hard time noticing any difference in their appearance. What’s worse, after a few months resting in my garage, the leather conditioning wipes by Armour All completely dried out and were unuseable. I decided to stay away from wipes and go back to sprays.  Leather Conditioning wipes simply don’t bring back the appearance and softness of the leather.  Now, on to a product that does.

Turtle Wax Car Leather Conditioner

The familiar Green, Turtle Wax Bottle in spray form is an excellent Car Leather Conditoner and Leather Restorer. For about $4.50, I got a bottle of the Turtle Wax Car Leather conditioner at Walmart. With clean rag in hand, I began spraying the conditioner on the back of the drivers driver’s. The Turtle Wax formula goes on very smooth and creamy. It is more like a lotion than it is a grease. As I wiped the conditioner in with my rag, I noticed my seats began to look of a deep black color again. As advertised, The Turtle Wax Leather Conditioner really restores old, leather. I completely smothered all of my seats with the Leather Conditioner and marveled at how much more supple the leather looked and felt. The product also has a very pleasant, new-leather like aroma much like the way leather seats in a new car would smell. Here is what I recommend using the product. If your leather is looking really old and worn, I have some advice for installing the leather conditioner.

Using Turtle Wax

Here is what worked best for me. I sprayed a liberal amount of the Turtle Wax Conditioner on all leather surfaces and rubbed it in quite firmly with the clean rag. After the entire car leather had been wiped down. This insures that the conditioner is applied and absorbed deep-down into the surface of your seats. Next, I sprayed a second coat of the car leather conditioner and restoration. For the 2nd coat, I used only a very light touch with the rag to remove off excess moisture, in order to leave the black, leather surfaces looking new with that deep, leathery luster. The leather seats in my 1997 Bimmer looks new and the car smells great. Turtle Wax Leather Conditioner is a winner. I look forward to trying some of the other Turtle Wax car care products: Tire and Wheel Cleaners, Tire Shine and vinyl interior car care. Expect some more reviews soon.

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