The Car Doc on annoying software updates, high-end cars and more

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

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Q. My wife and I purchased a 2015-1/2 Volvo XC-70 in August 2014. I used the built-in GPS many times since and found the maps (Software Version 1040, Map Version V 30.13.02) would not recognize locations constructed after 2014. In late 2015 I ordered the software update provided by HERE, LLC. Following the installation instructions I loaded the three DVD’s which required the engine to run for almost five hours. I found this unbelievable, but the dealer confirmed it was required. Is this typical for other late model cars GPS units? Also, are there other firms offering software updates compatible with my system? We love the car, but the infotainment system could be more user friendly!

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A. GPS systems in cars use a variety of software updates. In some cases the manufacturer will send a memory stick, in other cases there may be over the air updates and in cases like your car DVDs that need to be installed. It is easy to forget how much data is included in the navigation system of a late model car. Your car may in fact use 30 gigabytes of data to operate the navigation system, this is about the equivalent of 30 full length movies and although time consuming that amount of data takes time to load.

Q. I was watching television one night and saw a million dollar Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentley models selling at an auction. What makes an ultra-luxury car so expensive and are they worth it?

A. This is an age old question with many types of products such as: is a Rolex watch really 50 times better than a Timex or is $4000 Louis Vuitton rolling carry-on bag that much more useful than a Swiss-Army bag that costs $300? It is really more about image, status and exclusivity. The latest Chevrolet Corvette Z-06can travel to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and has a top speed of nearly 200 miles per hour. The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster can reach speeds of nearly 220 miles per hours but is also $300,000 more expensive. Functionally the cars are very similar but you will see many more Corvettes than Lamborghini and for just that reason alone some people think it is worth the money. Recently I had the opportunity to drive a Rolls Royce Dawn This is a two-door convertible that has a silky smooth ride, ultra-quiet cabin, beautiful hand crafted interior and the performance to get this big heavy car to 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds. Is the Rolls Royce Dawn worth $400,000? Only the person that can afford it can say for sure.

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Q. I am looking for a small station wagon not a small SUV. I own a well-used (worn-out) Acura TSX wagon and love the sporty feel and the overall handling and performance. Now that it is time to replace it I’m finding few choices. I have looked at the Subaru Impreza and it seemed a little rough around the edges. The BMW and Volvo are out of my price range these days and the Mini Cooper may be a little too young for me. Do you have any other suggestions?

A. I would certainly take a look at the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, The interior comes close to the fit and finish of a luxury car, the handling is very good and the turbo-charged engine provides spirited performance while still returning in the case of my test drive 36 miles per gallon. The cargo area is quite roomy for a small car and gets almost cavernous with the rear seats folded. Even with all of Volkswagens troubles lately I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this car. Volkswagen also showed an all-wheel-drive version of this wagon at the New York Auto show that should be in showrooms soon.

Q. Whenever I go to the quick oil change place they always put a sticker on the car for me to come back in three months or 3000 miles whichever comes first. They also send me email reminders to do the same. Is it really necessary to change to oil in my car that often?

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A. There was a time when oil changes happened every two or three thousand miles. Today with higher quality filters, better oil and more highly controlled fuel systems in cars the 3000 mile standard is no longer necessary. The best advice comes from your vehicle owner’s manual which typically will be 5000-10,000 miles. Recently I read that in California a bill is being considered that would require quick-lube businesses to be registered with the state Bureau of Automotive Repair and recommend factory oil-change intervals. Now of course consumers can always change their vehicle oil more often.

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