Q. My Nissan 350Z roadster is a great car, and in excellent condition, with only 60,000 miles. For the past few months, randomly (i.e. twice in one day then not at all for several weeks) I push in the clutch, turn the key-the starter turns over, but engine will not start. Sometimes it will start on the next try, other times it takes 15 minutes. In any case, it starts fine and runs great. I had my alarm fobs recoded and the problem continues. My local mechanic and Nissan dealer have only suggested that, "If it doesn't start, have it towed and maybe we can figure it out." Any thoughts would be much appreciated. I would prefer not to be stranded!

A. The shops are correct; it would certainly be much easier to diagnose the problem if it happened in the shop. Possible problems could be a faulty computer, camshaft sensors, even a fuel delivery problem. Doing a little research online, it appears that the computer could be the most common issue-but certainly a very expensive guess. I hate to say it, but in this case “time” may be the best diagnostic tool.

Q. I have a question about my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD. A piece of rubber that is on the shifter has broken apart and fallen down into the shifter cavity.  I took it to my mechanic who called the Jeep dealer and they said the piece of rubber is not sold separately. The entire shifter would need to be purchased at a cost of $800.00.  I’ve searched eBay and most of the parts I have found cost about $400.  Any ideas?

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A. With a little research, I did find a technical service bulletin that states that the shifter bezel is now serviceable without replacing the entire shifter assembly. The bulletin is number: 21-016-06 REV. A. The problem with many Chrysler products is that, although this was issued in 2006, it may not be valid with the various corporate changes at Chrysler. Have your mechanic or dealer reference the bulletin and see if the parts are still available. 

Q. I am replacing my six year old battery on my 2006 Buick Lacrosse before it lets me down. What will I lose, if anything, if I don't keep an alternate power source and just disconnect it? My other thought was to use my battery charger, hooked up to the battery clamps, until the battery is in?

A. Good idea to replace the battery before it fails. In fact, studies by AAA and others show that the average life of a battery is just over four years. You can safely replace the battery in your car without any problems. The only issue that you will have is that most likely you will need to reprogram the radio presets and on some GM cars you may need to enter the radio security code. This code should be in the vehicle owner’s manual. Trying to keep the car powered with a battery charger-with a battery in the car, is in my opinion never a good idea.

Q. I've read that they are churning out Honda Accords in Ohio at three times the normal rate and that it's Honda's first attempt at a CVT (continually variable transmission).  Would you still consider Accord as a first choice over a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima? In the long run, is it best to get all the bells and whistles if you plan to keep a car long term?

A. Honda builds great quality vehicles and I have no problem recommending the latest Accord. If you are timid about the CVT in the Accord, you could always buy the model with the V-6 engine which has the conventional automatic transmission. In my opinion, if you keep a car forever, having all the “bells and whistles” will have little effect on the value of the car. On the short term, options such as leather seats and a moon roof will certainly affect the resale value. Once the car gets older they have far less value than just keeping the car well maintained.