Introducing from the glove box and automotive podcast with Mike and Tony Tatich, the father, son team, and owners of TMT Automotive in Northern Indiana. On today's episode, we talk about the best-looking cars, buying your first car, and brakes and calipers.

All right. All right. I'm Mike. We are automotive shop owners in Northern Indiana. Been in that a long time. So that's almost 40 years for me. Anyhow, we're automotive shop owners. We bring you this podcast, talk about just some different fun things about cars, maybe talk about some general maintenance, take a call or two from somebody out there, and stuff.

But we always like to open up with the subject of talking about different cars. So we've talked about our favorite cars are, you know, some of the cars that were not so good. We've talked about our favorite drag race cars and movie cars. 

The Best Looking Cars

In this episode, we're going to chat about the best-looking car. Let's talk about the best-looking cars. Maybe somewhat modern, I guess. That doesn't matter too much. But we can go anywhere, Tony. The one thing about this podcast, there is no script. So it just kind of comes from the heart. We are automotive guys that love automobiles and enjoy what we do. But what do you think about the best-looking car? What comes to mind for you? I had a matchbox car and a poster of one. It was red in color. It was produced from 1987 to 1992. What is it? 87 to 92 matchbox hot wheels are the better. Well, again, we'll get on brands on that. And a poster. And the car was red. Ferrari? Yep. OK. What model? Hell, I don't know. Ferrari F40. Ferrari F40. So why was that from your childhood such a special cool car? What poster was it? It was just a poster of the car. Oh, wow. OK.

So I think we got it at the, what they call that thing at the. Cavalcata wheels. Yeah. Yeah, there was always a local car show around where we live called the Cavalcata Wheels. It was an old joy center in Notre Dame held on campus in Notre Dame. I think it's a switch maybe. But that was always a cool car show. We could go see all sorts of new custom or mainly custom cars and stuff like that. But yeah, probably was that.

So for the age of the person that I am and stuff in the mail, the red Ferrari was always just something that you aspire to get to. That's what you saw. Michael Jordan drives. That's what you saw any famous sports superstar drive, either Ferrari or Porsche. And you know, that car was just cool. Now that car modern days at Barrett Jackson and Mecham and places like that is going for astronomical numbers. At this point in time, you have people like the infamous Richard Rawlings from Gas Monkey Garage that restored a wrecked one and was the first person to paint one.

Another color besides red is the Ferrari F40. I believe you could only get the 40 model in red. You could not get it in any other color. And Richard Rawlings restored one and painted it black. Oh, wow. Pissed a lot of people off. So there was an old TV show Magnum P.I. That guy drove around a red Ferrari for sure. So that was quite interesting.

You know, for me, I mean, we obviously go to sports cars as being pretty cool, but I also want to maybe pivot off of that. I mean, I think a lot of you know, the here in the last few years, we've had a lot of retro looking cars for you know, so Dodge has come out with their whole lines of, you know, Chargers and Hemi's and all that cool stuff. And Mustangs have come out with, you know, Ford has come out with different ones of those that have been really cool. And of course, Chevy's done the same thing.

I often, you know, really think the new brand new style Corvette is really cool when we go to the mid-engine one. Yeah. So Tony and I go to some meetings several times a year and we go through Bowling Green, Kentucky. You can roll into there and go to the Corvette Museum and so sit up there. And I don't know how many car enthusiasts are out there, but you can literally pick your brand new car up as it came off the assembly line at the Corvette Museum.

So they had them all lined up there and there were people rolling in to pick up their new Corvette and a lot of different, different cool things with them for sure. So you can also see the sinkhole. They have the sinkhole. So that was quite an amazing thing in Kentucky, which doesn't normally happen. As much as it does in Florida, they had a sinkhole and a bunch of cars fell in a hole and they made an exhibit out of it. So it's actually pretty cool.

The Best Looking Trucks

But what else? I mean, what about trucks? 

I mean, God, there are a lot of good-looking trucks. I mean, I know in going back to my air again, Dodge came out with one called the Little Red Wagon, which is a pretty cool truck and had chrome pipes and stuff on it. Nowadays you have the Ram TRX, you have the Ford Raptor, you have all that stuff. But I'm going to go back to the one that kind of started all of that because I don't think it was until the mid-90s when they started really thinking about building a performance truck from the factory. Now a lot of people did it aftermarket and stuff like that.

And Chevy, and I think it was 1990, started the Chevy SS 454, which was a standard cab, short bed, 454 cubic inch pickup truck that was kind of built as a race type of truck and everything. So I think that kind of launched a lot of this. I had one of those. I thought you did. I had a black one. Yeah, it was a pretty fast truck. Yeah, they did start putting some big engines in the trucks and stuff. As trucks changed, I mean, trucks were used for farmers and workers and stuff like that. Now trucks have changed into the modern. I remember being in England a few years ago and I saw no pickup trucks around in London and stuff. And I asked the Uber driver, whatever we were in, I said, why don't you guys have any trucks? I mean, because in America, I mean, what, 50% probably more on the road are trucks and SUVs. And he looked at me and he says, we don't drive trucks because we're not farmers.

And I thought, well, that's kind of a mean comment. But it was just a fact that you know, as, and that was a few years back, but they still had, they called them Toyota Hiluxes, which were what we call it Tacoma now, a lot of different ones with that. But yeah, I think there are a lot of cool different things. I mean, I think all manufacturers have done a better job changing up the models and making them look cooler and better.

We went through a pretty plain stage for a while, for probably 15, 20 years. And it seems, you know, people are doing modern things with headlights and taillights and, and, you know, just different, you know, visions of, you know, the way the car looks and the way the car comes at you. They do some really cool things and average, average daily drivers. I keep waiting for Dodge. Dodge has put in a Hellcat engine. So a 707 horsepower V8 engine and everything other than a minivan. I keep waiting for the minivan to come out. Yeah. You're probably going to wait a little while. Yeah. And then you can drive a minivan instead of your hybrid. It gets 40 miles a gallon. You can drive one that gets 10. My wife will love me when we get a 10-mile-per-gallon, 707-horsepower Dodge caravan. I'm going to, ladies and gentlemen out there, I'm going to bet money on it, but that's probably not going to happen.

So anyhow, that's a little bit about some of the good-looking cars, but think about for yourself, what's attractive to a car? What do you like about the looks of it? You know, I'll share with you one last piece. My wife bought a new SUV a year or so ago and she talked about it, she didn't overly like the front grill of it. But she loved the interior and I said, you know, as you drive this vehicle and you own this vehicle for whatever time we own it, where are you going to spend 99% of your time? She said, well, in behind the steering wheel. I said, well, isn't that the most important thing other than the outside look?

If you didn't like the big grill that a lot of cars have. And she said, well, that's true. So she ended up buying, that SUV because she loved the interior. No, I can't do that. Well, I'm telling you, but that's, you know, you bought the right car when you walk away from it and you turn around and you look back at it when it's in the parking lot.

So you like a car that looks sexy when you walk away from it.

Buying Your First Car

So, okay. Hey, just looking to buy my first car this summer. You guys got any tips? So if we listen to what the caller was asking about looking for their first car, you know, and I guess we didn't really pin down whether this is, you know, the first car just got your license, maybe first car driver, you know, cause that's one thing that has changed. Most everybody was really, really excited and got licenses. You know, the minute the second that you could go get a license, not everybody's that way. So I see, you know, I know my youngest son didn't get a new, you know, didn't get right away on that wasn't that important to him and stuff.

But anyhow, the caller is looking for, you know, things to look for in a, in a first car. So I'll let Tony share with you a couple of pieces with this. And let's just talk this out a little bit. 

 The Vehicle's History

The biggest thing I think would be to look at a vehicle history report, whether that's car fax, whether that's a dealer report, whatever that is, make sure the vehicle hasn't been totaled, make sure it's got a clean title, and make sure all those small intangibles are in proper documentation beforehand.

To me, the second thing would be to try to figure out if the vehicle has any service records or service history. A lot of times if you're buying a vehicle from a dealership, that's a used vehicle, it could have gone through an auction or something like that. So there's going to be little to no records of the service history of the vehicle. You know, let's volley this back and forth, so you talked about a couple of things and I'll throw out a thought or two and let's just throw several things, but new buyer, I think what Tony talked about looking for service records.

And I'll tell you, it seems like what we see coming to our shops, we don't see a lot of service records other than car fax or something, being able to show much on yours. So tell everybody a little bit about what car fax are and how that helps you kind of look at the history of a car.

So car fax do a couple of things and I touched on that point at the beginning of that.

So car fax will tell you if there are any major wrecks, any wrecks that have been turned into the insurance. It will not tell you if the vehicle has been damaged and not turned in insurance or not had a police report. So a vehicle could have been wrecked, hit a deer, or something like that, not gotten a police report, had major damage and still gotten repaired if somebody paid cash out of pocket for it. 

But if it got turned into insurance, it's going to get reported to car fax. There are shops across the country that also report service history to car fax to where our POS system or our point of sale systems are linked to car facts to where car fax can actually download the service history of that vehicle based on that VIN number to where you know what the service history of that vehicle is.

But not every shop sends that information.

So you may go pull car fax, but if they don't report service information to them, you'd have no idea what was done.

Correct. Correct. So I think, and that's a good point with that. So although that's a good tool, I would question how many percent of shops actually report that stuff. Like Tony said, if it's an insurance claim or a police report, yes, it's going to be.

But if it's just general maintenance, a lot of those that I've looked at just don't have a lot of that information on them. Well, and I think the thing with this is there's no one size fits all guide to buying your first car. So there's a bunch of different things that you need to pull a couple of things from to be able to do it. The other thing being is if you can't obtain any of this information, if you can't obtain the history record of the vehicle, if you can't obtain whether the vehicle has been in any major wrecks or anything, then in I recommend this regardless if you can obtain or can't obtain that stuff. But I would recommend that you take it to a third party, i.e. another shop, not the dealership that's selling you the car. 

Take it to a third party, another shop and have the car have a safety inspection or what's called a used car safety inspection performed on it. You stole my volley thing. That was the subject I was going to talk about. So I'll take it from here. Tony's right about that. Most shops don't overly advertise that. I know ours doesn't do a really good job sometimes advertise that, but we will do a pre purchase inspection for you on an automobile. So take it to a third party because if you go to your local mechanic, wherever you are in your city or town, he's going to hear she is going to be looking out for you and your needs and wants and desires, not so much just to sell you a car.

So go get an honest opinion on what kind of shape that car is from your local trusted shop and technician. And that gives you a good idea. Two things can come out of that. You can find out that the car is really pretty good shape and only need to minor couple things. Maybe the dealer will fix it for you or maybe they'll discount the price so you can fix it at your local garage.

Or number two, you may find a car that's not really great and has a lot of issues and it's much better to head that off in advance and stuff. So many times we hear this question though, and I'll let you answer this, but the car that I'm looking at buying, the dealerships already performed 170 point inspection on it.

Why do I need to go take it for another inspection? 

Yeah, this is a touchy subject, but we'll tread on it delicately. Some of the inspections performed aren't as detailed maybe as your local mechanic would take care of that car for you. So if you think about this, if a dealer trades in a car and has it for sale and it needs a bunch of work, every dollar they put in it takes away from profit. So if they have to go put a lot of things, so a lot of times maybe they'll do the minimal work on it and not fix a lot of different things on that. Whereas maybe you like to really service a car and make sure it's got great brakes and suspension and tune up and all that type of stuff.

So sometimes those, I'm not saying always, but sometimes those inspections aren't as detailed as you'll probably get from your local shop, service center, somebody that you know and trust. It's again looking out for your benefits. I always tell our customers this, I'm working for you. I'm inspecting the car for you. We're going to point out the good, the bad, the ugly and we'll help you decide that way. I have no interest in selling you a car. So if you go to an independent service center like we run and there are thousands and thousands across the United States, they're really looking out for your best interests for that, not trying to sell you a different car.

Buy Something Practical

So I would also, I would caution too, Tony, I think a piece on this, somebody buying a first car is buy something somewhat practical. Talk about some of the cars that maybe have come into our shop that somebody, you know, maybe you're a 16 year old that got a two or $3,000 and you bought a really old BMW because it's cool. 

We just were talking about cool cars, but let's talk about that a little bit.

I was talking to one of the young guys that work for us about this the other day. So because he has a tendency to lower everything to the point where you can't drive over a penny. So that's a good point. Shout out Dalton. But you know, the problem is, is a lot of times when we're young, like I was talking about in a couple episodes ago with our first car, we want to customize stuff. We want stuff to look cool. We want it to sound cool. We want it to appeal to us and stuff. There is a huge difference between what is called a daily driver and what is called not your daily driver, i.e. your custom car.

A lot of guys get really confused and girls between making their daily driver too custom to where it can't go over a speed bump or railroad track or so on and so forth. So an older BMW like that is probably a good car if you really have a passion for it and you have a disposable income because that car is going to need a little bit more TLC and going to cost you more to repair in a lot of areas than what, let's say, what's a modern good front wheel drive car, Toyota Camry. Yeah, Camry, Honda Accord. So that BMW, the cost of repair is going to be greater.

Number one, it's going to require a special type of repair. Number two, and number three, a lot of times once you become an enthusiast, that car is going to have a little bit more customizable options and stuff like that that could cause you to do stuff to it that may not be recommended for your daily driving first car.

That's a good point. 

Like Tony's talking about, if you're going to get into one of that types of cars, make sure that you have the budget to allow that because there are cars that are more expensive to repair than a general Toyota, Honda, Chevy, Ford, a lot of those things. You got some great looking European cars, but as they get older, they can be pretty costly. So with the budget, which is what the caller was asking about, respectfully look for something that's practical, look for something that's dependable, reliable. Past service records are awesome.

If you're in the Northern climate, all wheel drive, front wheel drive should be factored into your decision heavily versus a rear wheel drive car because of snow and ice and stuff along those lines too. Great point. We were talking about that. So I want maybe the parents and the others that are out there listening to this also, we take our least experienced driver that's 16, 17, 18 years old and we put them in the junkiest car in our fleet while we go drive the nice new car with airbags and analog brakes and new tires and all that stuff. So you're taking your rookie driver and putting him in the car that handles not the best as we were talking in other episodes also.

So really factor that in, but hopefully you all have service centers in your area that you're going to rely on that can give you good, honest opinions about that car so you can make some right decisions.

Mike and Tony back with you from the glove box driving the discussion. That's right. It's awful. I know it is. That's why I was asking our producer. Our esteemed colleague. Yeah, our esteemed producer that helps us through these things and stuff. So I don't know these are in the title producer yet. He's yeah, we know he's he's producer. We're giving a big, we're giving a big title, but driving the discussion. Big words for a small glove box that we're in right now. It is. That's very true.

Break Jobs, Break Pads, Break Calibers, Oh My!

So you know, the subject we talked about, we always try to kick around some different ones as breaks, break jobs, break pads, break calipers, break rotors. You drive down the road and you see all sorts of pricing for these jobs. I mean, you can buy these jobs for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars of difference. Probably like you could buy a couch for $500 or $5,000.So let's let's let's chat out a little bit, because obviously we want cars that stop and stop efficiently and don't allow us to run into things that speed doesn't kill you. It's a sudden stop. It kills you. Exactly right. So that's the that's the thing that hurts the most. So so you know, and you know, let's talk about those things. Let's talk about, you know, how long the average break should last and stuff and, you know, driving habits and all that.  

So let's open it up a little bit about the subject called breaks, which everybody that's owned a car has probably made this purchase over the years. Well, I think the thing that that is happening more and more now is newer cars. That first break job is way out there, meaning used to be when you had your first break job, maybe you had your brakes done around 30, 40, maybe 50,000 miles and most in a lot of cases on a brand new vehicle, we're seeing that first break job happen in the 70 to 80,000 mile range, which is great under the pretense of a couple of things.

That pretense is your first break jobs going to last 70 to 80,000 miles, which is wonderful.

Don't expect your second break job to last that long. The reason being is things like calipers, things like wheel cylinders, things like master cylinders, all the other portion of a break job that is not your pads and rotors have age on them then and have 80,000 miles on them. So while you're going in and you're replacing your pads and rotors, which is the friction material of your brake system, you're not replacing anything of the hydraulic side of your brake system. I think a lot of people get really confused between a brake system having two different systems really that operate it, those two systems being there's a mechanical system with your pads and rotors and friction pieces.

Some cars still have brake shoes and brake drums. And the second part of that system is the hydraulic side.

So the master cylinder that moves all the brake fluid out to the brake calipers that actually squeezes the brake pads and operates those or the wheel cylinders that pushes the shoes out to make your vehicle actually stop. There's actually three, there's actually a third section of that. There is. What is it? The third section is the anti-lock brake side of it, which is strictly controlled electronically and stuff.

So I think- And that kind of includes your power brake booster and some of that type of stuff too that's all vacuum operated and in a lot of cases still at this point in time or hydro boost in a lot of cars now. So- Well, and I think as Tony shared with that, I mean, brake systems have changed immensely over the years. There was a phase where you would have what we call disc brakes on the front and drums on the back and you would replace those front brakes two or three or four times to every one of the rear.

Now modern cars have figured out how to balance the braking. Like a couple episodes we talked about the suspension and stuff, but modern cars are a much better balance in braking so they understand how to get a car to stop quicker and more efficient. There should be another component in the car that controlled the balance of the brakes. What was that called? It's old school. It's an ASE test question. A proportioning valve. Yeah. Yeah. Hold.

We're not trying to be technical on this one. This is a common folk conversation, but that is true.

But think about a brake caliper. You take your foot and put it on the brake and I'm staring at a water bottle in front of me. So if I want to pick up that water bottle, I reach my hand over, I squeeze my hand together and I pick up that bottle. That's when you're applying the brakes.  When you take your foot off your brake, it would be like your hand releasing and setting the bottle back down. So there's components in there. 

So when we do brake jobs in professional shops, that applying and releasing of your hand or the caliper, that's what does that. It squeezes that brake pad against the rotors, what stops the car. You think that you let your foot off the brake pedal, that the brakes have released, but things get gummed up and age and time like Tony talked about, and weather and all that, it doesn't release quite a bit. So there's much more than just going down to your local parts store and grabbing a set of brake pads and slapping them on your car. Want to explain a little bit about that? Yeah.

I mean, a lot of people are starting to get really irritated with vehicle manufacturers because according to the general consumer, the vehicle manufacturer is making the vehicle to where you can not service it yourself. While that in part is true, I think they're doing stuff to try to make the modern automobile more efficient, meaning the introduction of computer systems, introduction of computer controlled braking systems, that type of stuff.

So this is really spun to, you're not going to be able to do your own brake job in your driveway anymore unless you have some type of scanning equipment or a high end scan tool to be able to actually retract the brake calipers. So when I first learned how to do a brake job in 1997, 98, when I was nine or 10 years old and learning in the back of the shop, we used to take a two by four, put it in your brake caliper and then squeeze your brake caliper with what's called a C clamp to be able to get your piston retract. You don't do that anymore.

Now you go to the scanner, you press a couple of buttons and the caliper spins back in real fast and now you can put your new brake pads in. Because what happens is when your brake pads wear down, the pads start out at 10, 11, 12 millimeters of thickness. So let's call it half an inch, quarter of an inch, somewhere in there. And as they wear down, that piston has to travel out further and further and further to be able to make the brake pads actually squeeze against the brake rotor. So when you go to replace your brakes, you have to push the piston all the way back basically to new. 

Well, a couple of things are happening when you do that. Number one, the piston actually has to move back. Boy, this is getting really technical. I'm getting bored even.

So okay, we're moving the piston back. You're moving the piston back. So which is moving brake fluid back. One thing that people don't really realize is brake fluid is recommended to be flushed about every 20, 30. Some cars now up to 36,000 miles, some cars as low as 12,000 miles. The reason being is when you push that piston back, you're actually moving brake fluid out of the caliper that has been sitting there for a long time because brake fluid is the only system on your car that does not really make a complete circle.

So meaning all the brake fluid goes out to the wheel and doesn't come back every single time. So that gums the caliper up and by gumming the caliper up and not flushing your brake fluid can eventually cost you hundreds if not thousands of more dollars depending on your vehicle to be able to replace those calipers. Okay. That's a good point. I think, again, trying to use an analogy this came to me, but when you apply your brake pedal, you push your foot on the brakes to slow it almost like a squirt gun that squirts this fluid that makes the brakes apply and release and then different than a squirt gun, you're able to retract that back in. So that's kind of what goes on.

But I can share this with you. I mean, modern cars, like Tony said, do have brakes that last a lot, lot longer. There are six or seven or eight different qualities of brake pads and rotors for most cars. So just like if you go to the grocery store and go to the green bean aisle, you can buy green beans and probably 10 different price ranges and generic and premium and frozen and yada, yada, yada. Brake pads are the same way. So the common thing to share with our consumers out there is no two brake jobs are alike.

So we would always suggest that you go to a good quality reputable shop that has a long warranty that does a full service brake job that's servicing. Because these things are really important. I mean, you think of driving down the road and you're maybe not paying attention, your phone rings or a text pops in and you take your eyes off and then you see traffic stopping in front of you and you panic stop. That's the difference between good brakes and great brakes. If you go to your shop and they say you still have 30% remaining on those brakes, you do and they will last another X amount of thousand miles. But that car definitely will not stop as quick as a car with new brakes.

So depending on how you like to drive and what your safety factor is, sometimes it's best not to wait till they're completely worn out because you don't get the best brake. Same way with a tire. If you like traction, you don't wait till it's completely bald before you replace it. So I would suggest this, Tony, and I think we like to find this out for our consumers. How do you like to service a car? How safe do you want to be? Because everybody has a different opinion. But that's a little bit on brake service. Make sure to talk to your local shops to get the best value and get good brake jobs so your cars stop and you all are safe out on the road. Make sure to have your brakes inspected before you just deal with the price over the phone on them.

That's a good point, too. We would always suggest go to a shop. Most shops will do a free preliminary inspection versus calling around and pricing. It's just not very accurate. Have them really look at your car. As cars come into our shops, you usually know two brake jobs are alike.

Hey, this is Father and Son team, Mike and Tony Tadich. Just want to thank you for hanging out with us again today. So you got anything to wrap up, Tony? It's shutting the glove box time. So we'll see you next time on the next episode. Take care, everybody. Make sure you're here for our next one. Have a question for Mike and Tony? Call then at 888-201-0858.