Cars

How much will a coolant change cost me?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who’s due for a coolant change on an eight-year-old car.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Q. I am scheduled for a coolant change at 100,000 miles. Currently I have 96,500 miles on my 2014 Toyota Camry. What is a reasonable price for this?

A. In most cases these days this is considered a drain and refill. The price of the coolant varies, but $25 for a gallon is average, and a complete cooling system, which includes a drain and refill, inspect for leaks, and checks for proper cooling system operation, takes about an hour and a half. Depending on labor charges, $175 to $225. AAA also has a repair estimator that can give you a range of different repairs and services. 

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Q. My neighbor has a 1956 Ford Thunderbird with a 312 V8 engine. He wants me to change the oil for him but I wasn’t sure which weight oil I should use. What would you recommend?

A. I would use a good quality 15W-40, maybe Shell Rotella, available most everywhere. This oil seems to be very popular with old-car enthusiasts and works well with flat tappet engines.

Q. I just purchased four new tires in July. They were sold and installed at the local Land Rover dealership. I drove 6.5 miles and found the ride to be bumpy with a slight vibration, so I thoroughly examined the tires. I am a mechanic. I found after learning about the expiration date of tires that my “new” tires are six years old. In addition, they are not the same speed rating.  Is there a law that protects us from this safety hazard?

A. Currently there are no laws that prohibit selling old tires. There has been talk over the years in states with vehicle inspection that tires over six years old should fail inspection. The tire trade organization the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends that tires over 10 years old should be carefully inspected and replaced if they show signs of aging. I suspect your new tires may have been “take-offs” from another vehicle and sold to you as new. I would go back to the dealer and tell them you want the proper new tires for your vehicle.

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Q. I am thinking about possibly looking around for an outdoor car cover that would be good with the change of seasons that we have here in New England. I was wondering if you have any thoughts or ideas in this regard.

A. It is always best to use a quality cover and not a tarp. A quality cover is typically multilayer, allows the car to breathe, and protects the paint. If the car is a vintage variety with aging paint, even a good car cover can wear off the paint. On my own car, I have had good luck with the covers from Empire. I keep a car outside in Florida, and the Empire cover held in place during a hurricane last year. 

Q. What is going on with your radio program? I have been listening to you for years on several stations. I did listen to your podcasts, but I like it when people call in. My Saturdays are not the same without the Car Doctor.

A. Thanks for the kind words. The last station I was on was sold, but after a few weeks off I’m back on the air on 95.9 FM or online at www.959watd.com Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon. The program will be live, so call in to say hello.

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Q. I’m looking for an SUV for  me, my spouse, and a labradoodle. Seems like everything I look at is too small, way too big, or too macho. I also want to be able to tow our small boat in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. I have looked at Jeeps which are nice, but I have concerns about reliability. The Hyundai Santa-Fe just didn’t feel right, and the Kia Telluride and Ford Bronco were too big and hard to get. I also looked at the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango and they weren’t a fit either.

A. Vehicles are a personal choice, and it makes sense to buy what you want that fits your needs. Something I honestly almost forgot about until recently was the Honda Passport. This is a five-passenger SUV and now can be packaged with the TrailSport trim which adds additional off-road capability and has a bit more rugged design. With eight inches of ground clearance, 280 horsepower from its V-6 engine, and the ability to tow 5,000 pounds, the Honda Passport in standard or TrailSport trim could be the perfect fit.  

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 the Car Doctor podcast at johnfpaul.podbean.com.

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