Jim MacPherson is the host of "The Car Doctor" show Sundays at noon on WTIC-AM. Send comments, questions, suggestions in care of Special Publications, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115. For more automotive news, check out the On The Road section each Wednesday in The Courant.

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Jim MacPherson

Jim MacPherson

On The Road


Going Electric is Easy for These Local Drivers

September 30, 2014

Transportation in this country is dependent on oil for 93 percent of the miles we drive. The remaining 7 percent of the energy used for transportation comes from biofuels and natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In a chart that agency put together at the end of 2012, electricity doesn’t even register.

  • Celebrating a Century of Memories With Dodge

    September 23, 2014

    There is something undeniably satisfying about taking a low-speed corner in an older car with manual steering. I recently had the chance to experience this at historic Meadow Brook, the estate built by the widow of John Dodge in Rochester, Mich. John and his brother Horace founded Dodge Brothers and built their first car in 1914.

  • Collectible Cars Make for Risky Investments

    September 16, 2014

    It¿s a topic that springs up from time to time: Can an antique car be a viable investment? The answer is usually no, though there are some notable exceptions.

  • Crunching the Numbers on What We Drive

    September 10, 2014

    For much of August, while family and friends were enjoying the summer weather in Connecticut, I was secluded in my office compiling data on what features come with what cars sold in the United States. Some 96 different features for 240 cars were on the list. That meant researching and filling in more than 23,000 data fields.

  • Put the Top Down this Fall

    September 3, 2014

  • Why We Don't Accept Diesel

    August 27, 2014

    Recently, an Englishman visiting family in Connecticut came across my Aug. 13 review of the diesel Volkswagen Touareg. “I was pretty surprised and disappointed to see you comment that ‘there is no smoke or diesel odor’ as if this is something new,” he writes.

  • Heavyweights Brawl Over Pickup Truck Towing Title

    August 20, 2014

    An incident late last month that seemed more like a sixth-grade schoolyard dustup than a disagreement among major automakers shed new light on the way pickup truck tow and payload ratings are determined.

  • Celebrating a Century of Memories with Dodge

    July 22, 2014

    There is something undeniably satisfying about taking a low-speed corner in an older car with manual steering. I recently had the chance to experience this at historic Meadow Brook, the estate built by the widow of John Dodge in Rochester, Mich. John and his brother Horace founded Dodge Brothers and built their first car in 1914.

  • Go Farther for Less this Summer

    July 15, 2014

    The summer driving season is in high gear. Unfortunately, this has coincided with heightened instability in the Middle East, which is prompting higher crude oil and gasoline prices.

  • Chrysler Lends a Hand to DIYers

    July 9, 2014

    Advancements in technology have made cars more dependable. They have also made life harder for the backyard mechanic. The days when a clever individual could keep the family car on the road with basic hand tools, a little bit of knowledge and some free time on a Saturday afternoon are long gone. Without the proper – and often expensive – test gear and access to factory manuals and diagnostic procedures, a shade tree mechanic doesn't stand much of a chance in getting to the bottom of many problems. As a result, many people have given up on do-it-yourself projects and repairs, and with that they have become less enthusiastic about their cars.

  • Driverless cars still a long way off

    June 24, 2014

    Two years ago, the annual MIT/New England Motor Press Association Technology Conference focused on autonomous vehicles. These are cars and trucks that can drive themselves. The conclusion: Autonomous vehicles will impact every aspect of vehicle and road design.

  • Going, going, gone!

    June 17, 2014

    Major auto auctions are typically reserved for licensed dealers. Many people are convinced that this is where consumers could find a phenomenal used car bargain, if only we were allowed to participate.

  • How Would Your Car Grade You?

    June 10, 2014

    Regardless of the age of their students, all driving schools have one thing in common. When it comes time for behind-the-wheel instruction, they rely on a real person.

  • What are You Paying Extra For?

    May 27, 2014

    Many people are unaware that Audi is part of Volkswagen’s automotive empire. In the past, cars with Audi’s four-ring symbol have shared engines, transmissions and platforms with less prestigious Volkswagen models. This approach is common in the auto industry and you can expect this to happen more often as carmakers continue to try and save money.

  • Land Rover Unveils Technology of the Future

    April 29, 2014

    Press days at the New York International Auto Show are always interesting, not only for the cars and trucks that are unveiled, but also for the volume at which the introductions take place.

  • To Shift or Not to Shift, Part II

    April 23, 2014

    The column I wrote two weeks ago, To Shift or Not to Shift, focused on the decline of manual transmissions in cars sold in the United States. It prompted a surprising number of comments from readers. Most were from people who would never think of buying a vehicle with an automatic transmission. They like the added feeling of control that a manual transmission provides, not to mention the improved fuel economy, longer transmission life, lower initial purchase price and the added fun manual gear selection and use of a clutch brings to driving.

  • Return of the Fours

    April 1, 2014

    Go back to the beginning of the automobile in the early 20th Century, and you’ll find cars powered by one-cylinder engines. As with most lawnmowers today, a single cylinder did the job. If you’ve ever heard a “one-lunger,” as these single-cylinder cars are sometimes called, you’ll never forget the sound and cadence of the power stroke that seems too infrequent to produce forward motion. Yet, it worked.

  • Fudging Your Car Insurance Numbers? Be Prepared to Pay

    March 26, 2014

    Most people think of staged accidents when it comes to insurance fraud. However, there are other forms fraud can take. Exaggerating a loss or injury after a crash is just one example.

  • License Renewal Test Might Not Fix Bad Behavior

    March 18, 2014

    What would happen if every driver had to pass a written test on the rules of the road before getting their license renewed? That’s the idea behind Raised Bill No. 335 that was discussed at a Joint Transportation Committee public hearing in Hartford two weeks ago. This draft legislation called for a written test to be administered at every license renewal. It also required that a driver who failed the written test would not only have to try again – and pass – but would also have to pass an on-the-road test.

  • Diligent Driving the Best Prevention for Backover Accidents

    February 25, 2014

    When teaching new drivers or a driver improvement course, one of my favorite questions is asking when the act of driving actually begins. Answers usually range from opening the driver’s door and sliding behind the wheel to the moment the car begins to move. One of the more popular responses is when the key is in the ignition switch. None of these are right, and it’s rare for a participant to give the correct answer.