Is $1,000 a fair price?

John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,’’ answers readers’ car-related questions.
John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,’’ answers readers’ car-related questions.

Q. I have a 2007 Grand Cherokee Laredo. The dealer said I need new struts in front and quoted me a price of $1,000, saying it’s a big job. I want the least expensive struts as I do not do a lot of driving. Is $1000 a fair price and can it be done cheaper?

A. I did a bit of research and $1000 sounds quite expensive for just replacing the front struts. The factory replacement strut is about $110 each and the labor to install both is about two hours. If the shop is suggesting a strut/spring assembly, that would add another $200. I would suggest shopping around and getting a second opinion.


Q. I am considering purchasing a Ford Escape and wonder if there are any recurring problems with the car. To put it another way, has a particular problem occurred throughout the car’s history?

A. The Ford Escape has been one of the most popular compact SUVs on the market. The Escape hasn’t been without problems but overall it has been a fairly reliable vehicle although it is one of the most recalled nameplates in history. I believe there have been more than a dozen recalls over the years. The Escape still sells well and is quite popular, although there are, in my opinion better choices. I would categorize the Escape mid-pack in this category of small SUVs. I would also look at the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and the Subaru Forester.

Q. I have a question regarding my 2013 Honda CRV, the other day while it was raining very hard I put on my hazard flashers and the entire dash, radio and GPS screens went blank. After arriving home I shut off the car and restarted it and all was normal. I called the Honda dealer and they stated for them to work on it, they would need to see a problem. Any suggestions would be helpful, should it get it on record so that if I go out of my warranty it might be covered? Is there any recall or other documented issues?


A. It is nearly impossible to fix something that isn’t broken. I would certainly bring your CR-V back to at least have the dealership take a look for just the reasons you mentioned. From your description it presents similar to a faulty ignition switch. Regarding recalls or technical service bulletins there are none that I know of that address this type of issue.

Q. I drive a 2010 GS350 Lexus and on the gas door it is printed’’ Premium Unleaded Fuel Only’’. Is this totally necessary and why?

A. There are two general recommendations when it comes to premium fuel use of. The first is when the vehicle manufacturer states premium fuel recommended. With this type of engine, to get optimum performance you need to use premium fuel. If you don’t use premium fuel performance may suffer slightly. With your car, the manufacturer is stating premium fuel only and that is what you should stick with. If you use lower octane fuel, the car’s computer will make corrections and reduce the possibility of engine damage. That being said, it has been my experience that using a lower octane fuel results in lower fuel economy making any savings at the pump negligible. If my car stated premium fuel only-that is what I would use.

Q. My Hyundai Sonata has a strange problem concerning the interior heat. When I have the temperature at max heat and the car is at an idle such as a red light cool air comes out of the vent even after the car runs for a while. When I accelerate heat comes out of the vent like normal and warms the car like normal. I have had the fluid flushed and changed as well as replaced the thermostat. Still has same problem. There are no leaks anywhere. I talked to my mechanic who said it may be a water pump problem? The car runs fine and the pump is not leaking. Do you have any recommendations?


A. This is a classic example of a clogged heater core or low engine coolant. As the engine speeds up coolant is being circulated at a faster rate. It would be odd that the water pump would be faulty and the car would not overheat. Start with the basics of checking the coolant level and then test for proper heater operation. There is also an air-door actuator that when signaled will adjust cabin temperature from cool to warm. I would be looking at the basics first before looking at the air/temperature control system.

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