Q. I am considering purchasing a 2016 or 2017 Audi A4. Has Audi finally fixed the oil burning issue in the 2.0 liter turbo engines? My understanding that there is new version of the 2.0 liter engine in the 2017 A4.
A. The latest 2.0 liter engine is a modified miller-cycle design engine that breathes better, produces more power and should get a little bit better mileage. The previous engine tended to use a quart of oil in 1,000 miles and in some cases even more. My guess would be that as part of the redesign, the engineers at Audi/Volkswagen corrected any oil consumption issues.
Q. I took my car into a Subaru dealership to get an oil change. When they were done they told me I needed a rebuilt transmission and the engine needed a head gasket. The total cost was to the tune of almost $5,000.00. I am not having issues or see any visible leaks. My car does not overheat. Someone told me to check oil dip stick for any water bubbles and there were none. Also I checked exhaust, put my hand there during running to check for moisture and there was none. There are about 156,000 miles on the car. I have owned it for almost two years. I have only put 5,600 miles on it since I have owned it. How would they know these things, they never took it out for a test drive. Oh yeah they said would I want to put that kind of money into a car that’s at the time 9 years old or would I rather put it toward a new car. I told them I neither had the money to fix let alone buy a new car. Do you have any advice for me? I spent my savings to buy this car and I really love it and feel they are just trying to take advantage of an older woman.
A. It would not be unusual for an older Subaru to need a head-gasket; in fact this is a common failure for Subaru models up until 2009. The leak is typically an external leak. My experience is that the gasket can sometimes leak for years before it gets to the point of showing signs of leaking on the ground. The transmission fluid may be badly discolored which could indicate the transmission may be starting to fail. At this point I would get a second opinion. If you are looking for a shop you can trust, check out the Approved Auto Repair section of www.aaa.com
Q. Are car manufacturers planning for the day when many cars on the road, especially the self-driving ones are emitting radar signals, laser pulses, etc., to sense their surroundings? Will these cars be able to navigate in such “noisy’’ electromagnetic environments? Also how likely is it for “drivers’’ to be able to put down their smartphones, etc. and take control instantly if the cars behave abnormally? The better and more reassuring the cars become the more dangerous they will be when something goes wrong! Do you have an opinion this?
A. The car manufacturers I believe are doing a good job of shielding their cars from stray electrical signals. A bigger concern is vehicle hacking, as we see more cars with built in Wi-Fi hot spots the potential is there for hacking. This topic is a high-priority for car manufactures all over the world. Regarding drivers who may rely on self-driving features, that is always a concern. In fact some aviation experts have warned that airline pilots are becoming so reliant in autopilot systems their skills are getting rusty. I recently had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Dr. Mark Rosekind the Administrator for NHTSA and he echoed some of the same concerns. To listen to the interview on my radio program go to www.johnfpaul.podomatic.com
Q. I recently purchased a 2016 Honda Accord EX-L, this car gets terrific mileage. Sticker says 27/37. I was on a highway trip and got 38 miles per gallon when I checked. It has a CVT transmission. The Accord has many terrific features including, remote start and rear view camera on the passenger side mirror, both standard. Why has nobody written about this car?
A. I have to agree the 2016 Honda Accord looks like a great car. I have reviewed the 2015 Accord and found it to be one of the best mid-sized sedans. My impression is that there are few differences between the 2015 and 2016 models and any improvements can only make a good car better. Regarding Honda’s Lane-Watch system the New England Motor Press which I’m a member gave a technology award to Honda for this potentially life-saving system back in 2013.
Q. I work in a supermarket and as careful as I am it never fails my car gets dings all over it. I’m not sure if it is inconsiderate shoppers or runaway shopping carts but my car looks like it hit everything but the lottery. Is there anything I can do when I buy my next car?
A. There are a couple of options, you could have extra moldings added that could help prevent some dings. You would have to decide how the moldings change the appearance. The second method is with a removable car door protector. This is a foam strip that temporarily attaches to the doors to protect the car. One company is www.nodoordings.com the product looks like it would work although not very attractive but perhaps better looking than dents.