Need Suggestions for a 2-Door Car

Q. I have always liked two-door coupes, and now that the kids are gone I’m considering a two-door car. I’m too old for a Mustang or Camaro so I was thinking of something like a Hyundai Genesis or Honda Accord coupe. Do you have any suggestions?

A. The Genesis and Accord coupes are great choices. Both cars have stylish good looks but they are quite different. The Accord is a front wheel drive car, where the Genesis is a rear wheel drive car. Think of the Accord as a sporty car and the Genesis as more of a traditional sports car-in fact, Hyundai even offers a track package. Last year I tested the 2013 Accord coupe with a V-6 engine and a manual transmission and found it to be quick and sporty with a pleasant ride that you could enjoy every day. For me, living in New England, I would choose the front drive Accord over the rear drive Genesis.

Q. I have a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe and the “service engine soon” light comes on intermittently. The codes are po171 and po174. They don’t tell very much as the condition can be too lean or rich, etc. I have had the fuel pump and filter replaced with no luck. I have noticed that the light goes out when I am towing a fairly heavy load with my landscape trailer and it goes out when it is empty. Otherwise it seems random, although the light has gone out sometimes when I fill up the tank and then comes on shortly thereafter. The engine runs the same whether the light is on or off. What do you think is the problem?

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A. There are a variety of items that need to be checked. Your repair shop needs to follow a typical fault-tree diagnostic procedure to find the issue. Some of the items to check are vacuum leaks, restricted fuel filter, leaking exhaust, and even the integrity of the intake manifold.  

Q. Like most people, I like to do only what’s necessary for car maintenance. My question is regarding the necessity of the cabin filter. I drive with the window open for six months out of the year. My home has no dust filter, why do I need one in my car?  Will it cause any problems if I simply remove it and do not replace it?

A. I would not remove the pollen/dust filter; I would just replace it when it gets dirty. Although you may not drive on dusty roads, you do drive during pollen season. With most cars, replacing the filter is generally a very simple do-it-yourself project. Personally, I would replace the filter when it gets dirty, not based on mileage. As an example, with my car, I have only replaced the cabin filter once in five years and it took less than five minutes.

Q. Do you ever think there will be a hydrogen car for the everyday driver? I like the idea of not buying gasoline, but electric cars just don’t seem practical.

A. At this point, a hydrogen car suffers a little from the “chicken or egg” syndrome. Without an infrastructure of hydrogen refueling, vehicle manufacturers are not inclined to build production cars. This is not to say that vehicle manufacturers are not working on hydrogen cars; most manufacturers are. The other issue is the amount of energy needed to produce hydrogen just about equals the energy content of the hydrogen produced. Until there is a more economical method to produce hydrogen, in my opinion, hydrogen cars will have very limited use.

Q. I have a 2005 Acura TL that has had a problem with excessive road noise for a while now. This was due to the tires wearing oddly because of a wheel alignment problem on two different occasions. During the last trip to the dealer, I was told that one of the rims is slightly out of round. The dealer has given me two choices; buy a new expensive rim or have the rim straightened. Does straightening work and is it safe? I am about to buy new tires and I don’t want to put a new tire on a bad rim just to ruin it. 

A. Repairing a rim will certainly be cheaper than buying a new wheel. As to the safety issue, if the wheel is repaired properly, there should not be a problem. The wheel repairs that I have seen have looked almost as good as a new wheel and were considerably less costly.