Viewer-submitted questions for The Car Doctor:
Q. I currently have a 2008 Honda CR-V EX-L and am looking to buy a new SUV. My car still runs great with no problems, but I have almost 95,000 miles on it. I am looking for a new SUV that offers luxury, performance, and reliability for less than $42,000.00. Is it out there? To me this does not sound unrealistic. I am considering models from Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, and Audi but have not driven any yet. Could you please point me in the right direction?
A. The price point may be a little harder to meet than you think. The average new vehicle transaction price is just over $48,000, and the average price of a typical hybrid (sedans) is almost $41,000. Since you are looking for a SUV that offers luxury, performance, and reliability I would be looking at top trim levels of Honda, Toyota, and Mazda, rather than luxury brands. There are some models of Audi, Lexus and Acura that start in the low- to mid-$40,000 range but that is the base models of these cars. One vehicle I would consider that is not on your list is the Hyundai Santa-Fe in Calligraphy trim. This model has just about every luxury and tech feature, a great warranty and 2.5L Turbo-charged 281 horsepower engine with an eight-speed transmission, all-wheel drive, and a suggested list price of $44,300.
Q. I have owned three Genesis models and two have been great. This latest model, the GV 70, has been a disappointment. The navigation system was not working due to outdated mapping software, and the dealer told me it would be six weeks before they could look at the car. They sent me some DIY instructions which were completely useless. I called Genesis customer care, and they sent me more directions in a relatively easy-to-follow format, but the instructions involved going online, downloading new software, installing it on a SD card and then installing it on my vehicle (about six hours of my time). What do you think of this?
A. Genesis offers two updates per year for three years and these updates can be downloaded from their vendor website (through Genesis) or purchased on a SD card or flash drive. What is a bit odd with the Genesis models is that, although the map will display, the navigation system will not let the driver add destinations due to the outdated software. This essentially forces you to update the system and then purchase the updates after the free three-year period. Personally, I think Genesis and or their dealer should have offered to provide you with the preloaded SD card to simplify the DIY installation. Readers, what do you think?
Q. I read your column every week and you have stated you would answer every question. Since you work for AAA, how about a AAA question? I am a member and have a new car, what info is needed to update my membership?
A. This is an easy answer: nothing. AAA membership will cover you in any vehicle (that can be serviced with conventional towing equipment) that you own, or even if you are passenger in someone else’s car. This includes cars, trucks, electric cars, rental vehicles, and even two bicycle calls per year.
Q. I recently purchased a 2011 Mini from a private party. The car is great fun and has very low milage. The one oddity is sometimes when I lock the doors the two windows go down. It is not a big deal, I just put the windows back up. Is there some sort of reset for the key fob or windows?
A. Mini uses a part called a footwell module that controls this function, and the repair is to replace this module. You should check with your local Mini dealer, however, as there was a voluntary recall on this part due to corrosion issues.
Q. I have a 2011 BMW 535i with 62,000 miles on it, which I bought as a certified pre-owned from the dealer ten years ago. The car runs great, and I have had relatively few problems. However, yesterday I set my air conditioner to max, and the fan started slowing down and shut-off after a couple of minutes. I turned the whole thing off, waited a minute and turned it back on. I turned it to max, and the same thing happened again. If I run the air conditioner at less than max, say at level three or four, it runs fine and never shuts down. I wanted your take on this before I take it in for service and am told that I must install a new compressor or some other expensive part.
A. Though it could be a wiring issue, I suspect the fan itself is faulty. These fans can get some moisture into them which causes them to slowly seize up. Many BMW forums point to the switch or resistor, but with a resistor issue you would usually have only one high speed, not lower speeds. And switches are pretty solid. One other odd issue is if the cabin filter is really plugged up you will see reduced air flow from the vents.
Q. I have a 2011 Volvo C30 with less than 45,500 miles that runs like new. The dealer is advising me to replace the timing belt and water pump because “the car is 12 years old.” A friend tells me I don’t need that because the car has such low mileage. I just cannot make up my mind if I should cancel my appointment and wait until I accumulate more mileage. If I could get your thoughts on this, I would be most appreciative! I understand that every vehicle is different, but I just cannot shake off the feeling that this is unnecessary.
A. On this model, Volvo recommends replacing the timing belt at 120,000 miles or 10 years, whichever comes first. If you replace the water pump you need to replace or at least remove the timing belt. Replacing both together makes sense if you are keeping the car. If you only keep the car for another year or two, providing the water pump looks good, you could take a chance. The potential problem is if the water pump starts to leak, then coolant will get on the timing belt and damage it. Would I do both the timing belt and water pump if it were my car? Yes.
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