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


The Downside of Low Gas Prices

February 10, 2015

Every cloud, we are told, has a silver lining. Is the opposite also true? Does every bit of good news also come with a potential downside?

  • Getting to Know Your New Car

    February 5, 2015

    If you were one of the more than 16.5 million people in this country who bought a new car or truck last year, congratulations on your purchase. Congratulations, too, if you were one of the more than 40 million individuals estimated to have bought a used vehicle during 2014. That vehicle may not be new, but it’s new to you. May you enjoy many miles and years of trouble-free motoring.

  • Vehicle Rankings are Often in the Eye of the Beholder

    January 29, 2015

    While in Los Angeles for that city’s major auto show last November, I stumbled across a copy of USA Today with a ranking of midsize family sedans. Stumble is the proper word. The hotel tossed a copy right in front of the door to the room.

  • A Manual on Manuals

    January 20, 2015

    Going relatively unnoticed at the Los Angeles International Auto Show two months ago was the introduction of the newest version of the Jaguar F-Type sports car. It’s a 2016 model equipped with – we pause for gasps of disbelief – a manual transmission.

  • What to Do When Disaster Strikes Behind the Wheel

    January 13, 2015

    Just about every assessment of the top motoring stories of 2014 has placed the delayed General Motors ignition switch recall at the top of the list. The death toll alleged to be associated with the problem reached 42 as of last month.

  • Don't Get Carried Away by Lower Gas Prices

    January 8, 2015

    The recent drop in gasoline prices has created an interesting problem for people now in the market for a new car or truck. Is this break in high fuel prices a temporary dip, or is it the harbinger of what will be an extended period of $2-per-gallon gasoline, the result of reduced worldwide demand for fuels and new sources of oil? The answer to this question will influence which vehicle they buy.

  • How Luxury Vehicles Have Changed with Time

    December 30, 2014

    Last week’s On The Road section, with its emphasis on luxury vehicles, brought back memories of the annual gatherings for auto writers and their spouses that were hosted by the late Terry Ehrich. For 33 years Ehrich was the editor and publisher of Hemmings Motor News, a publication known as the “bible of the old car hobby.” As a result, these get-togethers, held at Hemmings’ headquarters in Bennington, Vt., focused on what was new in the collectible car market.

  • Redefining a Luxury Car

    December 23, 2014

    As with beauty, which is found in the eye of the beholder, what makes a car a luxury vehicle is usually determined by individual preferences that are constantly evolving.

  • Crunching the Numbers When it Comes to Driving

    December 16, 2014

    In three of my recent car buying presentations, some of the questions posed by attendees dealt with what could be called “Motoring Math.” These included computing payback periods for a more expensive but more economical engine or drivetrain, determining the cost-per-mile, computing depreciation and even how to figure out fuel economy. So, here are some hypothetical examples showing the ways to figure out each of these motoring expenses.

  • 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