Cars

I need advice choosing a new luxury SUV

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who’s considering purchasing a new Acura RDX.

The 2022 Acura RDX. Acura

Q. Any thoughts on the latest Acura RDX? I’m looking at that, the Volvo XC60, and the Audi Q5. This would be a car I plan to keep for a long time. I’ll be using it to carry my bikes and commute to work. 

A. In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t driven an Audi Q5 in several years. The last model I road tested had a wonderful interior, very nice road manners, and a solid feel. The Volvo XC60, depending on engine choices, delivers a nice balance of luxury and sporty performance. The Acura RDX has only one engine – a 280 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-charged four cylinder that blends drivability and sporty performance. If you like technology the RDX has just about every tech feature available including wireless Apple CarPlay. In the driving and comfort category I would put the Volvo and Audi as a tie with the Acura slightly below. If you are looking at long term reliability and resale value, the Acura RDX is at the top of the list. Just to add to your choices you might also take a look at the Genesis GV70. It is sporty, luxurious, and has stunning good looks. 

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Q. I have a 2005 Honda Pilot with 208,000 miles. When it reached 195,000 miles, it started vibrating in the rear of the vehicle when accelerating between 30 to 40 mph. The vibration noise disappears both when I accelerate and when I take my foot off the gas. I had it at the dealer for three days and they were not able to identify the noise, yet my passengers can all hear the vibration. I also occasionally hear a vibration in the front of the car. I’m wondering if there are two separate issues. Any ideas on what could be causing this? 

A. Honda uses a very specific rear differential fluid (VTM4). This fluid is designed to work with Honda’s active torque rear differential. Over time this fluid will wear out and cause a chatter. Since the dealer couldn’t find any mechanical problems, ask them about changing the fluid. I have seen many cases where this will help. In regard to the noise in the front of the car, that could be the result of a loose or vibrating exhaust heat shield.  

Q. I have a 2003 Volvo S60, and am having a problem with the radio. At times I am unable to hold a station.  This happens throughout the winter, and it is starting to happen as the weather has gotten warmer. For some unknown reason, the digital stations will scan through nonstop, or just move up or down one station. Sometimes tuning the radio with the steering wheel button helps, or else I just turn the radio off and start over.

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A. Volvo did issue a technical bulletin for erratic radio operation. Apparently a cable inside the CD player portion of the radio chafes and causes problems. There is no specific repair other than replacing the radio. 

Q. I recently purchased a Ford dump truck that I plan to use on a construction project and to plow snow on my property. When I raised the bed up, I saw a lot of rust. I had someone look at it who banged it with a hammer and told me the frame was shot. It runs well. Can a rusted frame be fixed? 

A. I would find a welding shop that works on trucks. Cleaning up the rust and welding in metal should keep this truck going. Just like repairing rotten wood that requires you to clean it up and get back to solid structure, welding a rusted frame is essentially the same. 

Q. My wife  is convinced that if we use premium gas in our car we will get better fuel mileage. I think it’s just a waste of money. What do you think? 

A. If the car was designed for premium fuel and requires premium fuel, follow the recommendations of the owner’s manual for the best performance and mileage.  Many cars are designed to run on 87 octane regular and only recommend higher octane. If this is the case with your car, paying for premium is just a waste of money. 

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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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