Q. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the complete redesign of the Ford Escape? I am looking at a used 2013 model as well as a used 2012 model, both have about the same mileage.
A. The previous design used up until 2012 was one of the best selling small SUVs sold. The new design for 2103 certainly gives the previous boxy Escape a more contemporary look and feel. The new design Ford Escape handles well and has improved fuel economy. The overall performance and fuel economy only get better when equipped with the smaller yet more powerful EcoBoost engine. I also found the interior to be of higher quality and generally more upscale than older models. Both are good vehicles and really it comes down to price and which vehicle you like best.
Q. I have a 2006 Ford F150 4-wheel drive pick-up truck. I just had the dealership replace the front rotors and pads. Now I have a shaking in my steering wheel that is increasingly getting worse. I took or back in this morning. The guy told me it sounded like a tie rod. I don’t want to get stiffed for something that they did incorrectly. What are your thoughts?
A. I would start with tire balance first and then look at the various brake parts that were installed. If one of the brake rotors is out of balance the truck would certainly have a vibration. Although badly worn steering parts could cause a vibration, I would have thought any worn parts would have been caught when the brake work was performed. If the shop is guessing about a faulty tie-rod end I would look for another repair shop.
Q. I have a 1995 Olds Aurora and recently replaced battery with a new one. Everything functions, lights, radio etc. except it does not turn over. I turn the key once more, it sounds like it wants to start but it loses power like the battery is dying but all bells and whistles are functional. What gives?
A. I would start with a complete test of the electrical system including the new battery (it could be defective). This test should include the starter as well as the battery cables. A poor engine ground could be causing the no-start problem.
Q. What do you think of dealership ‘certified used’ vehicles? I would like to buy a one year old, low mileage Volvo XC70 but don’t want to pay full price for a new one. The only thing I am nervous about is getting it used and then finding out it’s a lemon. What is your opinion on the certified used vehicles, are they worth the extra money?
A. If it is a factory certified used car, they are typically have lower miles and zero history of any problems. In addition depending on the manufacturer these cars may have extended warranties and wear items such as brakes and tires may have been replaced. Before purchasing a CPO (certified pre-owned) car ask if it is manufacturer certified or dealer certified. Although they could both could be good cars, the manufacturer CPO the factory is standing the car. In addition typically the manufacturer has inspected the car to ensure that it top quality.
Q. I own an older Saab and the roof liner has begun to sag – big time. I tried to spray some adhesive between the roof and the liner, but it fail to hold because the insulation has become a crumbled mess. Any suggestions?
A. Short of bringing the car to an upholstery shop, you could try to fix it yourself. You can remove the complete headliner and scrape all of the material and fabric away leaving just the fiber board. Then you can attach some heavy fabric material to finish of you repair. Once everything is dry reinstall the headliner. I remember doing this same operation adding a “stylish” corduroy headliner to an old Chevy Nova, a unique look.
Q. I am considering purchasing a 2014 Subaru Legacy or Impreza. I would appreciate your advice on reliability, any past repair issues, etc. I have heard Subaru is known to have head gasket issues which can be very costly to repair.
A. Certainly past Subaru models have had their share of head-gasket issues, but it my understanding that that problem has been corrected. The latest Subaru models are in my opinion the best Subaru models. They ride better handle better are more fuel efficient and have much nicer interiors.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.boston.com/cardoctor for past columns, tips, and repair help.