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Should I buy this 2020 compact SUV?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who’s considering a used SUV purchase.

Car Doctor -- This is a 2020 Buick Encore GX Sport Touring model on display at the 2020 Pittsburgh International Auto Show Thursday, Feb.13, 2020 in Pittsburgh.
The Car Doctor answers a question from a reader considering a used SUV purchase. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Q. I am considering buying a used 2020 Buick Encore. The car has 47,000 miles, and the local dealer gets very good reviews. It looked great and ran very well. 

A. This was a car that Buick leased at very favorable rates, in some cases about $200 a month. These are now pretty good used car purchases. The 2020 model year was one of the best. Earlier year vehicles had engine, transmission, and electrical issues. I looked back at a review I wrote for the Buick Encore and found it to be quiet with decent performance, but the cabin felt cramped and there were some blind spots when driving. If you are comfortable driving the car, I would have it checked out by an independent shop, and if it is a good price, buy it. 


Q. We have a 2017 Ford Flex with 30,000 miles. When firmly braking it developed a slight pull to the right. It does not affect the steering or seem to represent imminent danger. The car was never in an accident and only driven six months out of the year as we are snowbirds. We took the car to the local Ford dealership and they installed complete brakes, including brake rotors, and performed a wheel alignment. This didn’t fix the problem. They then replaced the flexible brake hoses to all the wheels – still no correction. They then waited for a Ford supervisor to get his opinion. They took it for test drives and the problem still exists. After having the car for two weeks, they called and said to pick it up. They threw their hands in the air and said they could not solve the problem!

A. The idea that the dealer and Ford gave up is pretty amazing, and I hope they didn’t charge you for all the guessing. It is critical when looking for brake issues that a complete visual inspection is performed. Hopefully, the shop ruled out the simple things like the tires. One issue that I have found is premature wear of a component referred to as a rear toe-link. This is something they should have checked, but maybe they missed it. 


Q. I have a 2011 Toyota Prius with 91,000 miles. Recently it got a new aftermarket hybrid battery from my repair shop. The car was running fine for a few months. Recently a warning light came on and a message saying, “Check Hybrid Battery.” I took it to the dealer who said it needs a new hybrid battery, which I declined. Now I get stuck and have to get it towed because I cannot shift from park into gear. Right now, the engine will not start. Any insights or suggestions would be much appreciated.

A. The dealer may have condemned the hybrid battery because it was not a Toyota replacement. I have found and heard from readers across the country that aftermarket hybrid batteries work well. Even though the car is a hybrid, it still needs a good 12-volt battery working starter, alternator, and electrical connections. The idea that the car will not start sounds like more of a problem with the 12-volt battery. At this point, it sounds like you should have the car towed back to the shop that replaced the traction battery, due to the warning light message. Most aftermarket hybrid batteries have at least a one-year warranty. At the same time have them check the 12-volt battery and other electrical components. 


Q. I want to buy a battery charger. I was looking at the NOCO GENIUS10 and the GENIUS5. Are either of these chargers good for a 2019 Nissan Sentra, Ford F-150, and a Jeep? I don’t want to go buy something that will be too strong. What about NOCO? I seem to remember you were a Battery Tender guy. 

A. These are battery maintainers chargers, designed to maintain your vehicle’s battery when not in use. These units will charge a battery, although they charge at a relatively slow rate (which is good for the battery). Reading the specifications either one of these would suit your needs. I have never used a NOCO charger, but have been happy with the NOCO emergency jump-packs. I have one in my car and one on my little boat.

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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