Viewer-submitted questions for The Car Doctor:
Q: I recently traded in my old SUV for a sedan. I really liked the SUV but the cost of repairs and and fuel started to take a toll on my budget. I purchased a Hyundai Elantra but after a week of driving the car, I just do not like it. I went back to the dealer to turn the car back in and get my money back, but they said “sorry, we can’t do that.” Do I have any recourse?
A: Unfortunately, there is no “right of rescission” (or “cooling off” law) when it comes to buying a car. Some dealers will have their own informal programs that allow a consumers to return a car after a period of days if s/he doesn’t, but these are up to the particular dealer. I am afraid that you entered into a contract and there is no way out. If there is any consolation, the Hyundai Elantra is one of the better small cars on the market, and it also comes with an outstanding warranty.
Q: I have had a recurring scraping noise in my 2016 Chevy Impala for over a year. The front wheel bearings have been replaced twice. This repair stated they replaced inner and outer bearings, cups, seals and repacked with grease. There is also a yellow brake light on but our mechanic told me it is okay to drive as long as yellow light doesn’t turn red. Any idea what could be the cause? And how to fix it?
A: I think it may be time for a new repair shop. The idea that the shop gave you the car back with a warning light on is my first concern. Second, the wheel bearings are sealed units and you do not disassemble them to repack them with grease like an older car. The bearing units also have wheel sensors for the antilock brakes. For whatever reason, the sensors are not functioning and causing the ani-lock function of the brake system to work improperly.
Q: I took my 2015 Toyota Highlander in for service because it would make a rattling noise in the morning. The shop is suggesting that the part that allows that valve timing to vary needs to be replaced. They want to take out the engine and totally disassemble it, replace the timing chain, gears, head gaskets and a host of other parts. I thought Toyota engines lasted forever.
A: Although the shop may be right in their diagnostic of the engine noise, they might be going too far. The variable valve timing (VVT) setup can rattle, and removing the gears does require removal of the engine. Since the engine is out and perhaps the technician, knowing your particular engine, feels that replacing the cylinder head gaskets at this point would be money well spent. Another possibility may be that the oil solenoids are gummed up and there is an internal oil leak in the engine. I have seen some technicians clean up the solenoids, remove the valve covers (not a simple job), and then replace the dried out gaskets that go to the variable gear setup. The leaking gaskets cause a loss in oil pressure when the engine is started, but once the pressure builds to a normal level, the VVT systems quiets down.
Q: Yesterday, when I went to get into my car, it would not start. AAA came out and was able to start the car, but suggested I buy a new battery. When I got home, I let the car run for half an hour. Once the car was turned off, it would not turn back on again. It was completely dead. I called AAA back and when they came out, they replaced my battery. I now have a new one. Is it necessary to go to my dealership to have them inspect the electrical system?
A: Generally, when AAA battery technicians check and replace a battery, they will not just evaluate that battery but will also test the starter, alternator and look for any signs of parasitic electrical drain. If these tests were performed (only takes five minutes or so) there is no need for additional testing.
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