Viewer-submitted questions for The Car Doctor:

Honda HR-V

Q. I have noticed that you frequently recommend the Honda HR-V. My wife and I test-drove it when it was first marketed and decided not to buy it for a number of reasons, primarily because of severe cowl shake at 5-50 miles per hour. This is a problem that was also noted in several automotive publications. I am wondering if this problem has now been addressed.

A. I have not driven the 2023 model but did not notice cowl shake in the earlier models that I road-tested. The previous HR-V was based on the Honda FIT, which has been discontinued. While I only road-test vehicles for about one week, I don’t recall cowl shake in any Hondas that I have driven. Like the larger Honda CR-V, the cabin of the HR-V can get a bit buzzy, and the ride is a bit harsh on the highway. But overall, ride and handling were secure. Like many small SUVs, I would have liked a little more power from the engine. But overall, the flexible interior, good resale value and overall reliability make the Hone JR-V an easy vehicle to recommend.

Window-cleaning tips

Q. I am almost 80 and cannot clean the inside of the rear window of my Toyota Avalon because of my age and the slant of the glass. I saw something on TV with a handle that looked like a flyswatter with a sponge on the end. Are you familiar with anything like this? Also, do you have any window-cleaning tips? We used to use newspapers but that does not seem to work the way I remember. I want to get rid of that film buildup.

A. I have also seen that window cleaning product “as seen on TV.” I have never used one, but the idea of a long-handled tool that is flexible and springy enough to keep even pressure on the window is a good one. I have found that the key to clean windows is a good quality window cleaner (Spayway and Invisible Glass are both good). When you are satisfied the windows are clean, go over them with a good microfiber cloth. You are correct about newspapers; many now are made from post-consumer recycled fiber which is good for the environment but doesn’t clean windows.

Car maintenance costs

Q. I have a 2014 Toyota Avalon hybrid and the dealer suggested I get a transmission fluid change and fuel injector service at a total cost of $350. Is that reasonable? Also, should I be thinking of a new 12-volt battery within a year or so?

A. While changing the transmission fluids and cleaning the fuel injectors cannot hurt performance, it is not a required service. The dealer is likely recommending this service based on time and mileage, but not by any actual inspection of the fluid or fuel injector condition. As for the 12-volt battery, at 9 years old it still may have a little life in it. The 12-volt battery does not lead a particularly hard life in a hybrid, as it is really only there to turn on the car’s electronics.

Q. My 2014 Chevy Equinox is a great running truck with 40,000 miles. The dealership recently told me I needed to service the cooling system ($229.95) and the brake fluid ($189.95), saying the chemicals break down after five years. What do you think?

A. According to General Motors, if the coolant level is maintained properly, the coolant does not need to be serviced until 150,000 miles. Regarding the brake fluid, Chevrolet does not have a specific interval for replacement, but AAA testing has shown that brake fluid can fail and become contaminated after just three years of normal use.


Q. I have a tire question. The data plate on my 1977 Plymouth states the front tires should have 28 PSI of pressure and the rear tires 32 PSI of pressure. My mechanic keeps them at 32 PSI in all four corners. I am using Firestone, 225/70R/15 tires. Would it make a difference to go with the data plate specs or keep them at 32 PSI?

A. Normally I would go with the car specs, but in this case, 32 PSI of pressure all around is a good starting point. Keep in mind that in 1977, this car did not come with radial tires. If you want a little more handling and a bit softer ride, lowering the front tire pressure a few pounds will in theory improve the contact patch of the tire tread to the road. A little more contact might give you a little better steering feel. But if you are happy with the ride and handling, stay with the 32PSI.

If you’d like more information head to AAA Northeast.