Auto Doctor: Car buyers ought to take extended test drives
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Dear Doctor: I plan to purchase a 2013 Acura TL with the Advance Package. There was a negative comment in a consumer magazine that this model had noticeable "road noise." Have you found this to be true? I plan to travel to and from the Northeast to Florida yearly. -- Rick
Dear Rick: There is some road noise that you can hear, due in part from the tire design, tire width and low profile. I can tell you that the hard ride is now much more forgiving. Make sure you take the car on an extended test drive on all the roads you drive daily before considering a purchase.
Dear Doctor: I was interested in buying a certified pre-owned 2009 BMW 328, but I'm concerned about the cost of repairs with routine things, such as a battery replacement and what an expensive hassle it could be with resetting the computer, etc. Do you recommend these cars? -- Paul
Dear Paul: There's no question that higher-end vehicles cost more for maintenance and repairs. With this said, if the BMW is what you really want, then buy it, along with a warranty from the dealer.
Dear Doctor: We've been having issues with our 2008 Ford Taurus. Occasionally, the car seems to buck when going around 40 mph. The other day my wife said it banged once while beginning to drive then rode fine. We went directly to Ford but they found no trouble. Any ideas? -- Christopher
Dear Christopher: It's difficult to find an intermittent problem such as you describe without the issue setting a "check engine" code. You could be looking at either the engine or transmission causing this problem. It would be best if a technician takes the car home or overnight so he could feel the bucking you are experiencing.
Dear Doctor: My 2003 Ford Explorer recently failed to turn off interior lights after exiting. Also, the driver's door panel lock-unlock switch failed to work. I discovered that by turning the rotating dimmer switch to off that the lock-unlock and interior lights would be OK. However, with the switch off there are no dash lights at night, so I have to turn the dimmer switch on and remember to switch off when leaving the vehicle. Is this simply the dimmer switch failing? -- John
Dear John: Check for trouble fault codes in the body control module. I see a lot of sticking and frozen door light pin switches. These switches are located in the door latch. The interior door panel needs to be removed to access the latch. In some cases you can buy just the switch and in other cases you need to buy the latch assembly.
Dear Doctor: I'm the owner of a new Dodge Charger. When traveling at 70 mph the vehicle runs like it's idling at 1,500 rpm, due to the eight-speed transmission. The electronic oil gauge is at 32-34 psi. In past, the oil gauges would read at the middle or just above, however, it's between 1/4 and the middle. In the long run will the engine be fine? -- Don
Dear Don: Oil pressure readings are lower now than they were years ago. Today's oils are thinner and flow more easily. Oil pressure will be more when the engine is cold and first started. There is nothing to be concerned about. This is a normal condition. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347