Q. I am considering buying a used 2012 Lexus LS460 it is a beautiful car, but as I was doing my research I was reading about the Hyundai Equus. The Equus looks like a great car and is priced about the same as the used Lexus. What do you think of this Hyundai and how does it compare to the Lexus?
A. The Equus has a lot to offer, it has more room, higher horsepower and better overall warranty. In addition the Equus offers concierge customer service where the car is picked up and dropped off at your convenience for any service. In fact the Hyundai Equus matches or exceeds just about any comparative specifications from any luxury manufacturer. There was a time when I would recommend Hyundai because of the great warranty and decent overall value. Today Hyundai builds high quality cars and SUVs. That said, Lexus has a reputation of building some of the highest quality cars made. At the end of the day only you can decide if you want to drive a Lexus or a Hyundai.
Q. I recently purchased a 2005 Grand Cherokee with only 44,000 miles on it. It has an intermittent problem starting; there is plenty of power coming from the battery but it won’t start. I took it to the dealer and they could not come up with any diagnostic code, said it may be the starter. I don’t want to put money into repairs without knowing the problem. Do you have any suggestion?
A. In this vehicle, the starter shouldn’t draw more than 250 amperes during normal operation. I would also ask that the shop inspect both battery cables. A poor engine ground cased by corrosion could be the problem. If the shop wants to go a step further, see if they would be willing to hook up some sort of light that you can monitor if the engine doesn’t crank. It would be a simple setup with a light that would illuminate when the starter is engaged. If the light comes on and the engine doesn’t crank, the problem would be the starter.
Q. I have a 2010 Hyundai Elantra, which is still under the warranty. One of the things that needs to be inspected to keep it under the warranty is the climate control air filter. My own mechanic did the inspection and he replaced what he called the cabin filter. Is the cabin filter the same as the climate control filter? Do I always have to go back to the dealer for warranty coverage?
A. The climate control filter and the cabin filter are the same. Technically, the filter is called a cabin air/particulate filter. This filter is designed to filter out dust as well as odor. Certainly having any work performed at the dealer allows for easier paperwork but it isn’t necessary. To maintain the warranty you really only need to have the work performed or even do it yourself and document the repair and keep any receipts.
Q. I drive a 2003 Chevrolet Blazer SUV; I am getting a “coolant-sweet” odor from the heater ducts, not all the time. Sometimes smoke or steam comes out of the front grill area. I don’t know what to call it. The coolant level is fine and I can’t see any leaks. Can you give me your opinion on this and a guess at the cost?
A. The steam from the radiator is more than likely condensation being drawn onto the hot engine. The smell from the vent is likely the beginning of a heater core leak. Even a very slight leak will translate into a coolant smell. A garage should be able to pressure test the system to check the radiator as well as the heater core. If the heater core needs replacing it is expensive. It will take about nine hours of labor to remove and replace the heater core. The price of the heater core itself ranges from $75 to $180 depending where the part is purchased. Add to this the cost of coolant and any necessary heater hoses.