Dear Car Coach: I wondered if you have any tire suggestions for me. I only need two tires and am not sure if I should match brands. Although I originally went to school to be a mechanic, I am far from a tire expert. I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla Sport (185/65/14 85T) and have always purchased BF Goodrich TA Pro from Sam’s. I know Michelin has a good reputation, but price is somewhat of a factor in my decision. Thank you!
Dear E.S.: Never mix tire brands as they have different temperature and traction ratings and this can affect your braking, handling, traction and ride quality. If you need tires, check with www.tirerack.com and then call around and compare it with your local tire suppliers. I do like Michelin tires.
Dear Car Coach: Thanks for listening to my car problems. I love my 2003 Saturn L 300 sedan. I keep up with all maintenance appointments, because having a car is how I earn my income. For the past three to five months my car has been stalling when the engine light comes on, almost like a hiccup. It will be running OK, then slow down, like the automatic gears have been shifted. This is the best way I can describe it. I took it to the dealer three times with no satisfaction. First, they told me I have to come back when the light is on to check the diagnostics. Second, when I went back with the engine light on, they told me it was a burned-out light socket in the back window. The third time, they told me to check it out it will cost $90 plus parts and labor and they will have to keep the car at least three to four days for repairs. Some of my co-workers said it sounds like my oxygen sensor? I don’t want to have my car repaired by my dealer. I’m afraid if I don’t take care of this problem, it will get worse. My car’s warranty time is over and I canceled Christmas to save for the car repairs. Please help! What should I do?
Dear A.L.: I’m sorry to hear that the mechanic gave you the runaround. I’m not sure if you are referring to the GM dealer or a repair shop, but either way they should be able to connect a computer to your car and find out how it’s running and repair the problem. Most likely your oxygen sensors are not causing the problem with your car. They could be setting off a code because another fault is causing the sensor readings to be outside their normal range. Vacuum leaks can cause your vehicle to run poorly and set a check engine light with oxygen sensor codes. Vacuum leaks will cause the engine to run poorly because the computer does not recognize the unmetered air entering the engine and does not add enough fuel to compensate. If you fix any vacuum leaks, your problems may go away. In addition, look for an ASE-certified technician to work on your car. I would definitely NOT go back to whoever was working on your car before. In addition, if you have a check engine or warning light on your dash, almost any auto parts store will connect a scan tool and give you the codes and what they mean for free. If you are handy with tools, sometimes you can repair the problem yourself.
Dear Car Coach: I’m looking for a new car and just know how much I can afford. Are there any websites that can help me find out which cars I should test drive? I feel that I’m empowered to negotiate a good deal. I just need a starting point.
Dear JP: There are many great websites to help you find the best car. Use online buying guides to compare vehicles in a particular class (minivans, passenger cars, SUVs, etc.). Plus, find detailed pricing, technical specifications and driving impressions and reviews. Knowing what each car has to offer, as well as its sticker and invoice pricing, is the first step toward getting a good deal.
Once you’ve narrowed your vehicle options, focus on financing specifics. Peruse current rebate and financing offers; see which vehicles retain the most and least value; learn about various payment options.
In addition, contact your insurance agent and see what the costs will be for your final choices to help you decide.