Dear Doctor: I am leasing the new 2013 Honda Accord with the four-cylinder engine. From day one, it's given us a hard, shaky, feel-every-bump-in-the-road ride, which is unacceptable for me and my wife. We are senior citizens who cannot be happy with this condition for the next three years of the lease. We went back to the dealer twice for road tests and they said this is the way the car is built and they cannot change it. Do you think it's the tires, struts, suspension shocks or anything else that would cause this problem of an unacceptable ride? -- Seymour
Dear Seymour: What gives a car a hard ride are struts that have a large piston and the springs that have a high pressure rate. The tire sidewalls are short, hard and not flexible. This would also contribute to the hard ride. The Accord is not defective, and the dealer and manufacturer have any legal responsibility under your complaint. You can, at your own expense, change the tire size to a tire with a larger sidewall. This may soften the ride enough to satisfy both of you.
Dear Doctor: I have a 1992 Nissan Maxima with 127,000 miles. At highway speeds of 60 mph and traveling downhill where I can coast I take my foot off the gas and notice the idle needle jumps and begins to vacillate between 1,500 and 2,000 rpm. I recently needed to have the master air flow sensor changed. I had the timing belt changed in 2010 at a Nissan dealer and the car has never really felt the same. I had to immediately bring it back after this job. Apparently the timing was way off. They did something to make it better but it has never felt the same. I intend to keep this car. What can I do? -- Vincent
Dear Vincent: Any time the idle is not consistent the common problem is unmetered air entering the engine. A leaking vacuum hose, EGR valve, intake manifold gasket are often cited as the cause as well. On some rare occasions a dirty throttle body can also cause idle fluctuation. Because your Maxima is pre-1996 model year the computer system is not designed to process a lot of important engine diagnostic information. You'll need a technician to find the problem. Also have the technician check all engine mounts for wear and movement.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2008 Ford Explorer, but what a difference when I saw the 2013 Explorer with the twin-turbo V-6. What do you know about this EcoBoost engine? -- Sean
Dear Sean: I agree, the bold new design adds muscle and performance looks. I drove the 2013 Explorer Sport model with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost and all-wheel-drive. The engine is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. It produces 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. The 24-valve twin-turbo V-6 has more power than the outgoing V-8 and gets better gas mileage, too, with ratings at 16/22 mpg.
Dear Doctor: I've noticed on several programs recently, especially West Coast Customs, they frequently begin the show with a brand new high-priced car or truck, remove the factory paint, and then repaint the entire vehicle. I thought that once the "original" paint job is removed and the vehicle is repainted that the quality and longevity of the paint might be compromised and would tend to chip and fade. What are your thoughts on repainting a brand new vehicle? -- Lloyd
Dear Lloyd: I see new vehicles that have been repainted every day. There is no question that the factory paint is done under perfect conditions. I work with many body shops and see a lot of repaints -- some are bad while others are perfect. I personally have had three newer cars repainted and after 5 years the paint still looks great.
Dear Doctor: I'm opening a three-bay repair shop and would like your opinion on companies that provide service repair information and help with problem vehicles. Jason
Dear Jason: Congratulations on your new venture. The first step is to listen to the customer and understand they come to your shop because they have a vehicle problem or just need routine service. I rely on Identifix and Alldata information services. The initial cost may scare you, but keep in mind they will save you a lot of time, which equals to a lot of money saved. The same will hold true for your office management system. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347