Does my car need shocks and struts?

Q. I need some advice as to whether my car needs shocks and struts. I took my 2007 Nissan Maxima to a well known tire store and they said everything was fine. Then I took it to my neighborhood garage guy and he also said they were okay. I however don’t like the way it feels on bumps and the handling is just not tight. Is there a way to improve the suspension and get the car to feel like new again? Would the shocks and struts make the car more responsive and ease the hard knocks over the bumps on the road. Will I not see much improvement if I get this expensive repair when I am told the car does not need it?


A. As the car starts to wear all of the suspension will loosen up. This would include struts, shocks, bushing and the steering. Add to this that over the past seven years the springs have most likely started to sag a bit. As the springs start to sag the car will hit the bumps just a bit harder, add in slightly worn suspension parts and the car will have a bit more of a vague steering feel. Since this is not a safety issue, only you can decide if it makes financial sense to invest in the repair.

Q. I purchased a new 2013 Toyota RAV4 with front wheel drive last April and have enjoyed it until some issues that have arisen this winter. Firstly, in January, on a warmish day with a lot of snow on the ground and a lot of fog evaporating that snow, the temperature plummeted during the day. When I got out of work 8 hours later, I found that the entire front window of the vehicle had iced up on the inside and the driver’s door was slightly difficult to open as though it has iced up as well. The car is garaged at home so I have not had that window icing issue since.


Secondly, when I drive in slushy snowy conditions, I find that the slush sticks to the rubber gasket at the inside bottom of all the doors as well as on the interior metal frame (about 2’’ wide) opposite the rubber. The slush has not got onto the car’s carpeting though. I have driven cars for 50 years and have never seen this happen before. I have brought the car into the dealership under these conditions and all they did was show me a similar model that they drove around in slush and the results were the same as mine. Basically, they told me not to worry about it. But I am worried as this may be a possible cause of rusting later.

Thirdly, when I back out of my garage down a slightly inclined driveway, the brakes squeal sometimes but not all the time. Of course, the dealership could not repeat this condition. Do you have any advice for me?

A. The ice that builds up inside the car can come from a combination of issues. Using the cars heater in the recirculation modes keeps moisture trapped in the car. Secondly, if the carpets get wet from slushy shoes, that moisture will make its way to the glass. To minimize this keep the heater on the fresh air setting and vacuum the car’s interior with a “wet vac’’ to remove any accumulated moisture. Regarding the gaskets and slush, wipe the gaskets off and spray them with silicone. The silicone will help displace any moisture. Waxing the metal surface will also help and will prevent any possible rust. Finally it is not uncommon to get some brake noise on the first couple of brake application. The noise is from a thin layer of rust that builds up on the brake surfaces overnight. This is normal and not a problem.


Q. It was recently brought to my attention that you covered an issue with a 2008 Chevy Suburban that we also experienced recently. Our 2008 Chevy Suburban engine failed on us one evening. We had to nurse the car home and had it towed the next day to the dealership. My extended warranty had only just expired and we were irate to learn the cost was going to be nearly $5000 to repair the engine that has a known problem. The dealership finally settled at $1500 to have this fixed. My question is how wide spread is this problem and shouldn’t GM be taking some responsibility for it?

A. The active fuel management V-8 engine in some General Motors vehicles certainly has had some problems. This is nothing like the Cadillac 4-6-8 engines that were truly a disaster in 1981. Readers have you had engine failure with your General Motors engine that uses “active fuel management’’? If you have, I would like to hear about it-email me at

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