Q. I have been reading about the new Subaru WRX, what is your opinion of this car? I’m looking for a fun, fast car but don’t have a budget for a Porsche 911or a Nissan GT-R.
A. I think the latest 2015 Subaru WRX is the best yet. The interior has improved and the clutch and shifter operation now match some of the best cars on the road. Combine this with the very responsive 268 horsepower 2.0 liter turbo-charged engine, accurate handling and steering; this latest WRX is a winner.
Q. I have a question on my 2008 Honda Odyssey. At what time do I need to change the timing belt about how much would it cost? The car has 105,000 miles on it.
A. The car is due to have the timing belt replaced. The basic cost is about $75 for the timing belt itself and about four hours labor to perform the repair. In addition to this cost, if there are any seals, drive belts or associated items that need to be replaced, this would add to the final cost.
Q. I drive a 2005 Nissan Xterra with approximately 125,000 miles. Starting in January, I started to experience trouble with my truck when it would suddenly lose power when I pressed the accelerator. The truck continued to run roughly at idle, but the accelerator was non-responsive. Even though the service engine light comes on, there are no codes in the computer. I called a local mechanic who did the following: checked the fuel pump, replaced the spark plugs, tested the fuel quality and replaced the mass air flow sensor. After all of that, my truck continues to experience this periodic loss of power. What do you think it could be?
A. There is a history of failure of the computer relay (ECM relay) with these trucks. Some of these models had a recall. If this relay has not yet been replaced, this is the first place I would start with my diagnostics.
Q. I have a 2009 Honda Civic and a couple months back the battery died and I had to call for help. My car was given a jump start and I was able to drive to a nearby store to buy a new battery. When I received the car I noticed that the inside dome light does not come on when I open the doors. There is no power to the radio and the daytime running lights only come on long after I start the engine. Another problem I noticed, which happened before the battery died, is the ABS. Whenever there is snow on the road and I apply my brakes, even at a very slow pace (between 10 and 20 mph) there is a growling sound coming from under the brake pedal, actually it sounds like it’s from the ABS and the car does not stop unless I take my foot off the pedal and reapply the brake again by pumping the pedal. I don’t experience this when driving in better weather conditions. I am afraid that I may not be able to stop the car at some critical moment. This is a pre-owned car that was bought at a dealership and had only 25,000 miles on it. What should I do?
A. I suspect when the battery was either jumpstarted or replaced a fuse or electrical connection failed. The dome light and the radio memory may be on the same power circuit. This could also be the case with the daytime running lights. Regarding the ABS brake system, the most common issue is with cracked or rusted wheel speed sensors and tone rings. This will cause low speed application of the anti-lock brakes.
Q. I have a 2012 Kia Sedona and a light appeared on the dashboard looking like a red enclosed exclamation point with a circle around it. I looked it up in the manual and there is no explanation. Nothing is leaking and it runs great, what do you think it could be?
A. There are two indicators that look like the one you describe: one is the tire pressure monitoring system indicating a tire is low on air. The second indicator, and more critical one, is a warning of low fluid level for the brake system. In either case a repair shop should be able to identify the warning light and suggest any necessary repairs.
Q. I just bought a beautiful 2002 Lexus SC430 with 70,000 miles on it. Would you recommend, due to age, that I replace the timing belt and water pump? I think the manual recommends 90,000 miles but considering the car is 12 years old, I’m thinking it might be the right thing to do.
A. Considering the age of the car, it would make sense to replace the timing belt. Regarding the water pump, I would also replace it since it is an integral part of the timing belt system. The labor to replace the timing belt is just under five hours and it is only another 18 minutes to replace the water pump. In my opinion, this would be money very well spent.
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.