Q & A with The Car Doctor
John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years’ experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. He will answer reader’s questions each week You can find the Car Doctor podcast at www.johnfpaul.podbean.com or other popular podcast sites. Email your car questions to [email protected] Follow John on Twitter @
Q. I have a leased 2019 Mazda CX-9, which is a great car except back in February my display screen cracked internally in the upper right corner. Then in April, my car sat for the day, then on Saturday morning when I started it the lower left side cracked from the inside. There are no scratches on the outside of the screen or markings, I am the only driver of the car. Do you know what is happening?
A. In previous models, there was a defect in the display, in fact Mazda issued a technical bulletin concerning the spider cracking issue. The factory warranty is 36,000 miles or three years, If the car has more than 36,000 miles on it, I would contact the dealer and have them contact Mazda and reference the technical service bulletin.
Q. I have a 2015 Dodge Journey with 33,000 miles. I ran great for over five years. I did replace the starter and at the same time replaced the battery. Now it starts every morning without fail and when I leave work it also starts without fail. However if I drive the car five minutes and then wait twenty minutes it will not start. When this happens there is no sound, then if I wait about 40 minutes it will start every time. If I leave it in the driveway and start and restart 10 times without moving the gear shift it will start every time. If I start it and put it in gear and back to park it will also not start. I swapped the starter relay, and some say it is the ground cable, but I think it is something with the anti-theft system. No one seems to know what the problem is, any thoughts?
A. There are a couple of possibilities. From your initial description it sounds like a faulty transmission range sensor (neutral switch). Unfortunately, Chrysler did not make this easy to replace, it is about four hours labor and about $80 for the switch. The second possibility and one that I suffered with was with a replacement starter. It was also an intermittent no start, but I was thinking how could it be the starter, it was only 11 months old. In fact, it was a faulty starter. Since the issue is consistent, it would be easy enough to check the starter using something as simple as a test light.
Q. My husband owned a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette for approximately 40 years. I believe he was only the second or third owner. It is white, red leather interior, 4 speed, black soft top roof, with a white hard-shell top. When he bought it, it was stripped down to the fiberglass and showed no damage. The car is in excellent shape and runs perfectly. Unfortunately, I must sell the car. I cannot drive it and my children do not want it. I have been offered $50,000 but that was the first person to see it and his first offer. I know how difficult it is to determine what is a fair amount for the seller to receive but am I being taken advantage of? What could or should I ask so as not to “give away” my late husband’s dream car?
A. The first generation C1 Corvette is an extremely popular vehicle. Some buyers keep them all original, and some people modify them (resto-mod). The resto-mod vehicle can sell for $200,000 or more. The stock vehicles with documentation can sell for $80,000-$120,000 depending on condition. Considering the value of the car, having an appraisal of the vehicle would be money well spent. This way you will have a better idea of the actual value and spending the money on the appraisal could keep you from making a $40,000 mistake.
Q. I am about to buy two of the Battery Tender Juniors that you recommended. When I emailed this company, they said to buy the larger unit. I am right that is incorrect since the larger units charge and the Junior maintains. Would this be accurate?
A. Actually, both will charge a battery, the Battery Tender Junior would just do it much slower. I have used the Battery Tender Junior for the past two years on cars that sat idle for six months and the engine always start because the battery is fully charged.