Q. Do you think we will ever really have a flying car? I’m a child of the 60’s and I’m still waiting for a flying car.
A. I don’t think we will ever really see a flying car. I think what we will see are planes that can transition to some form of road travel. I would put the Terrafugia being developed in Woburn MA and the PAL-V a Dutch flying car/motorcycle as that type of vehicle. Time will tell if someday we join the ranks of the Jetsons, hopefully these “pilots” will fly better than their road going driving counterparts.
Q. My 2001 Toyota Corolla LE, which I purchased new, has less than 70,000 miles. I take it to the shop for regular oil and filter changes, as well as for maintenance checks/work. Must I be concerned that the undercarriage will rot before the engine will die? How much longer might the car be dependable, such as to drive from the East Coast to the West Coast and return?
A. Regarding structural rust my best advice is to check the undercarriage of the car once or twice a year as the car gets older. A good repair shop will generally let you know about things like rust during routine servicing such as oil changes. Regarding taking cross country trips, this is where you need the help of your trusted repair shop. A good repair shop can make recommendation of things that need repair that would be stressed on long distance trips. These items would include belts, hoses, radiator, brake components, tires as well as any other items that could fail on the road.
Q. I have a 2011 Ford Focus and have just had to have the battery replaced. It was totally dead with no warning. I checked blogs and is seems that dead batteries are a problem on the 2011 Ford Focus. Can you look into this?
A. I did a little checking here at AAA Southern New England where we provide nearly two million road service calls annually. Zeroing in on 2011 Ford Focus models, it doesn’t appear that we provide road service for battery/jumpstarts on the 2011 Ford Focus more than any other similar car on the road. The typical life of a battery here in New England is 49 months. In hot weather states batteries can last as little as two years. Why your battery failed prematurely is hard to say. At a minimum, a complete test of the electrical system should be performed, to rule out any potential problems.
Q. I have been considering a vintage VW Beetle for a “fun” car. I am handy and have garage space although not a mechanic. What advise can you give me?
A. Depending on how and when you drive your car I would consider a convertible version. When the top goes down the value will go up. Now with that said, buy a car that you will enjoy not one that you plan on making money with. When shopping, always buy the car in the best condition. Buying a “basket” case will likely cost much more than a car that someone else has spent money on. In all but a few cases you will never get you money back when restoring a rusty, mechanical collection of parts. Hemming Motors news is currently listing VW Beetles from $7500 to nearly $25,000.
John Paul, the “Car Doctor,” is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England and a columnist for Boston.com. A certified master technician, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on 950 WROL in Boston (www.wrolradio.com) on Saturday mornings at 9. Need car advice? E-mail John at email@example.com or go to www.boston.com/cardoctor for past columns, tips, and repair help.