Car Guides

Will a broken car seat be a big repair problem?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader dealing with a broken Infiniti passenger seat.

The 2014 Infiniti Q60. Infiniti

Q. I drive a 2014 Infiniti Q60S coupe, with 90,000 miles. It runs great and is fully paid for. My 5-year-old grandson broke the passenger seat climbing over it, making it essentially a one-person car. The cost to replace the seat with a new one is about $5,000, according to an Infiniti dealer. If I buy one used on eBay or at a junkyard, it would be much less, but the air bag would need to be reset in order for the dash light indicator to stop flashing. I’ve been told it is illegal to reset the light unless you are the dealer. What type of service shop should I be looking for?

A. The airbag light is on because there is a fault in the airbag system. One theory is that when you replace the seat, the airbag fault should be corrected, and the light will go out. A mechanical or auto body shop should be able to do the repair. In fact, body shops replace broken seats after collisions on a regular basis. Regarding resetting the light after the faulty codes are repaired, there is no law that only a dealer can perform this repair. Of course a repair shop can’t disconnect an airbag or any safety system — that’s illegal. If you search online, you will find many videos on how to clear an airbag light with Nissan and Infiniti products without any special tools. 

Q. My 2018 Toyota Corolla with 16,000 miles was serviced two months ago. Recently, on each start up, I get the message on my dash “maintenance required soon”. How can I clear this message since I know all the fluids were checked during the service?

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A. The repair shop should have reset the maintenance minder as part of the service procedure. This reset is easy and doesn’t require any tools: Turn the ignition switch to ON. Press the ODO/TRIP switch knob until TRIP A appears. Turn the ignition switch off. Turn the ignition switch ON while pressing and holding the ODO/TRIP switch knob. Hold the ODO/TRIP switch knob until the following conditions are met and five seconds have elapsed: Once completed TRIP A shows “000000” and the multi-information display shows that the reset is complete.

Q. I would like your opinion on brake pads on a 2016 Toyota Highlander. Would you use Toyota pads or other brands? If the brake rotors look good, would you skip this or replace them while the pads are being replaced? The car has 61,000 miles on it. 

A. You can never go wrong using factory parts, but there are quality aftermarket parts as well. If you were going with aftermarket, Wagner Ceramic are quite good as are NAPA Ultra/Premium brake pads. Regarding brake rotors, if you are performing the work yourself and plan on keeping the vehicle, save some time and replace the brakes and rotors together. It will only add about 10 minutes additional work per side to replace the brake rotors. Once completed, hopefully you won’t need to worry about your vehicle brakes again for another 60,000 miles. If you are using a repair shop, let them make the determination on the condition of the rotors. 

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Q. I need a truck, and like the idea of an electric truck, but I’m not ready to buy a Tesla (if they ever make it) or a GMC Hummer. What do you think of the hybrid Ford F-150? This would be my only vehicle. I’m a semi-retired carpenter and still do some home repairs for former customers.  

A. I recently drove the Ford F-150 Power-boost full hybrid and the first thing I noticed was this hybrid truck drove absolutely seamlessly. Without looking at the display it was very hard to tell when the truck was in hybrid or full electric mode. Performance was outstanding as was the fuel range — nearly 700 miles. The four-door CrewCab that I drove was the Platinum edition and had an interior as nice as any luxury vehicle. In addition, our tester had an on-board 7.2-kW generator that offers four 120-volt, 20-amp outlets and one twist-lock 240-volt-30-amp outlet, that should run just about any power tool. The tailgate is designed as a work surface and like many Ford trucks has a pull-out step for easy climbing onto the bed — a feature I have grown to appreciate as I get older.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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