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


Last-Minute Automotive Gifts

December 9, 2014

Nearly two weeks have elapsed since Black Friday and there are only two full weeks left to shop before Christmas arrives. Yet, there is no need to panic. If you have any drivers or auto enthusiasts on your shopping lists, here are some items that could be ideal. They range in price from $5 to several hundred dollars.

  • GM Banking on Winning Back Midsize Pickup Buyers

    December 2, 2014

    General Motors has great expectations for its new 2015 midsize pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Nearly identical mechanically, the two models differ in trim and content.

  • Preserving That New Car Look

    November 25, 2014

    Congratulations on your new car. Sitting in it, you might feel that all is right with, if not the world, at least your little part of it. But you also know that your new car will be working in a hostile environment.

  • Crash Test Dummies Packing on the Pounds

    November 18, 2014


  • Driver's Ed for Everyone

    November 11, 2014


  • Getting the Younger Generation Hooked on Classic Cars

    November 4, 2014

    Last month, Consumer Reports opened its Colchester auto test center to younger drivers for two separate events. This week’s column is devoted to the program on Oct. 4 that introduced teens and young adults to the pleasures of driving a car with a manual transmission. Next week’s column will cover the Street Survival session for teens held on Oct. 25.

  • Winter Tires Offer Advantages Over All-Season Tires

    October 28, 2014

     It has been exactly three years since the 2011 Halloween nor’easter dumped as much as 32 inches of snow on New England, with accumulation in Connecticut topping out at 18.6 inches.

  • Driving Demands Our Full Attention

    October 23, 2014

    The trouble with driving is that it can lull us into a sense of complacency. We drive mile after mile, day after day, year after year and nothing goes seriously wrong. Then, it does.

  • Autonomous Vehicles Won't Make Drivers Irrelevant

    October 14, 2014

    No automaker is currently offering a fully autonomous vehicle for sale to the public. If there were such a car or truck, it would be able to drive itself. Think of George Jetson’s vehicle, minus the aerial capabilities.

  • Is It Time To Re-Tire?

    October 7, 2014

    A company car I use recently needed new tires. To be fair, the tires on the car still had 4/32 of an inch of tread. The legal limit in Connecticut is 2/32 of an inch. Years of experience, however, have taught me that when it comes to tire tread, legal does not equal safe. Just the week before in a heavy downpour, I detected a slight loss of steering feel when I encountered standing water. It was definitely time for new tires.

  • 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.