How To

What should I do about a car recall when the dealer can’t get the needed part?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader whose car is under recall for a hood latch issue.

Car Doctor -- The 2015 Chevrolet Spark.
The Car Doctor answers a question from a reader whos car is under recall for a hood latch issue. Chevrolet

Q. There was a recall concerning the hood latch on my 2015 Chevy Spark last August. The Chevy dealer keeps telling me that the part hasn’t become available yet. This concerns me as it involves the possibility of the hood flying open and I definitely don’t want that to happen while I’m driving.

A. Since the problem is corrosion related, the first thing I would do is inspect the hood latch for any signs of excessive rust or corrosion. I would also add additional lubrication to the latch if it seems to be sticking. According to the recall, the issue is the secondary latch, which means the primary latch – the handle that you pull – would have to be engaged first before the hood can open. If this were my car, I would make sure the hood is always firmly shut. I would also check periodically with the dealer to see if the updated parts have come in yet. Of the 120,000 Chevrolet Sparks that are a part of the recall, there have been 22 incidents of the hoods opening and one injury. Not to say that it couldn’t happen, but the odds are pretty low.


Q. I have a 2016 Subaru Outback which I purchased new. It has had five new batteries, including the original, in 41,000 miles. Apparently, certain Subaru models have a parasitic battery drain problem, which Subaru is aware of. There have been several lawsuits filed. Do you know of any permanent fixes?

A. There are a couple of issues with some Subaru vehicles and their batteries. The first issue is when the engine is off there is still electrical drain on the battery. The factory battery doesn’t appear to have enough of a reserve capacity to handle this constant current drain. The first fix is to install a larger battery with more capacity. The second issue is that the alternator/generator doesn’t always charge the battery. This charging profile is in an effort to improve fuel economy. Depending on how the vehicle is driven, the battery may never receive a full charge. The “fix” for this is that Subaru has updated the car’s computer to improve the charging profile. Readers have told me that once a bigger battery is installed and the charging profile has been updated, the car behaves as designed. 

Q. My Hyundai Sonata was running fine until one day the interior lights on the dashboard and stereo went a bit dimmer. When we got home the car wouldn’t start, but the lights were still on in the interior – so it is not the battery or alternator. My non-expert opinion is, the key fob battery finally died and needs to be changed, because approximately two weeks prior to this both keys were showing low battery. Do you agree with the battery in the fob possibly being the problem?


A. Although the key fob battery may need replacement, it would have no effect on the dash lights, radio, or much else. Yes, if the key fob battery is low, the push button start won’t work (although usually pushing the button with the fob will start the car). I suspect your car has a weak alternator which has caused the battery to become discharged. At this point, have the battery and charging system tested. 

Q. I bought a 2010 Honda Accord V-6 for my daughter two years ago. It has about 50,000 miles, and seems to have a recurring issue with fouled cylinders. It’s happened four times and I’m wondering if these engines have a history with this issue and how to best resolve it.

A. This is pretty common with this make and model. The fix is a computer update, and if that doesn’t work, then it will take a major overhaul of the engine, which includes updated piston rings. Considering the car is 13 years old and the cost of rebuilding the lower end of the engine, it probably only makes sense to get a slightly hotter spark plug to prevent oil fouling.

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 Doctor question to [email protected]. Listen to the Car Doctor podcast at


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