Cars

Can I change the seats in my Ford Focus?

Q. I have a 2005 Ford Focus and have found the front seats to be very uncomfortable after an hour or so of driving. The seat seems narrow for my back although I am not a very large person. I would like to know if seats are interchangeable between manufacturers and what other seats could I swap out, either aftermarket or from another car?

A. To find a seat that would fit I would start with a vehicle upholstery shop. Some of these shops have experience swapping out seats with other makes and models. Although keep in mind that changing the seat could have an effect on the crash worthiness of the vehicle. Airbags and seatbelts are designed specifically for a certain make and model of car.

Q. I just passed 88,000 on my 2007 Camry and was having an oil change at a local tire shop. They called me and said all four struts were leaking and this is a known issue with 2007-2011 Camry models. Have you heard about this? I checked online and have found a few stories and threads about this but not sure if this is a Toyota problem or a case of up-selling by repair shops.

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A. There have been problems with rear strut mounts and the rear sway bar. In both cases there will be a clicking/banging noise. Regarding the struts, at five years old and 88,000 miles, it is possible the struts have started to leak. Although considering the cost of replacement, I certainly would get a second opinion.

Q. I am in the process of ordering a new Porsche Boxster and have the option of the standard 18 inch wheels or an upgraded 19 inch wheels. What are advantages/disadvantages of the 18 inch wheels versus the 19inch wheels, if any?

A. The 18 inch wheels and tires in my opinion may be a better choice here in New England. Although the 19 inch wheels are lighter and add to the already great handling of the Boxster. (I recently drove the 2013 Boxster S and found the handling and performance about as good as it gets). I’m concerned about expensive tire/wheel damage. My reasoning is, these slightly smaller diameter tires have a bit more sidewall and may be a little more forgiving when encountering potholes.

Q. I live in Massachusetts and have a 2001 Dodge Intrepid and the anti-lock-brake light came on. The mechanic said it was okay to keep driving the car but it will be dangerous to do so in the winter and I won’t be able to get a new inspection sticker. Is this true?

A. When the anti-lock brake system shuts down the car will act just like a car without anti-lock brakes. Certainly in slippery weather, anti-lock brakes can help prevent a crash but no more than a skilled driver without anti-lock brakes who anticipates the road conditions. In Massachusetts if the ABS light is on your car will not fail a state vehicle inspection. This is not the case in some other states.

Reader comment: Jamie the owner of FasTrack Automotive in Peabody writes. When we have a customer wit this intermittent no-start problem similar to what was in your column, we give them a second option rather than replacing the ignition switch. We install a resistor that makes the anti theft system recognize the key. Although it will disable the anti-theft system, it’s a permanent fix and only costs about $100.

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