Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Q & A with The Car Doctor

John Paul

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 or other popular podcast sites. Email your car questions to [email protected] Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on facebook mrjohnfpaul

Q. I have a 2019 Toyota Camry with about 38,000 miles on it, that is coming off the lease and I can buy is for about $17,000. Do you think this is a good idea, the car has been very good and only needed regular maintenance? 
A. Looking online with today’s crazy used car prices (up 30 percent over last year) the typical 2019 Camry is selling for $25,000. To me this makes buying out your lease a “no-brainer.” Of course, you may need to put some money into the car. At its age and mileage, you may be due to for tire, brake replacement and maybe a new battery. With a thorough detailing and if needed, replacing tires, brakes and the battery would be money well spent and make the car feel and look like new again. 


Q. My 20-year-old twin boys want to drive cross country this summer. The problem that they want to do it in their grandfather’s 20-year-old Lexus. What do you think of this idea? 
A. The three most common reasons people call AAA are keys locked in the car, dead batteries and flat tires. If I was to do this trip, I would bring the car to a good garage for an overall checkup focusing on parts that age. This would be drive belts, cooling system, tires, and the electrical system. I would also look at brakes, steering and suspension components and fuel and brake lines. I would also carry an emergency kit of premixed coolant, extra oil and transmission fluid, first aid kit, portable air compressor and jump-pack, if everything is repaired or looks okay the trip is certainly is possible and safe. Although keep in mind that AAA surveys show that cars 10 years and older are twice as likely to break-down and four times as likely to need a tow than newer vehicles. But what is life without an adventure. 

Q. I have a GMC 2500HD pickup that is used in for work, I’m a handy-man and some days have no weight in the truck and other times may have an entire deck. The door sticker states the front tires should be at 65 PSI and the rear tires should be inflated to 75PSI. I just had an oil change and asked to have the tires checked. When I checked with both the tire monitors and a gauge and they are all at around 63PSI.  Should I set the tires at different levels?
A. I believe in setting vehicle tires at the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, in this case 65 PSI in the front and 75 PSI in the rear. The only time I would vary the pressure is if you were carrying a heavy load for a long distance and then add more air, but never exceed the maximum tire inflation pressure on the tire’s sidewall. 

Q. I have a 2015 Nissan Rogue with 56,000 miles on it. This car ran great until I was involved in a car wreck. Now frequently, when shifting into park, engine will jump up to as high as 4,000 rpm - as though I floored the accelerator - then engine settles down to normal. This does not happen every time I shift into park but very unnerving when it happens. Is this a major concern? The body shop took the car to the dealer, and they replaced the accelerator pedal and performed throttle learn. The problem is the same thing still happens but now accompanied with vibrating noise coming from engine when accelerating up to 40 mph. What can I do? 
A. I have checked for possible technical service bulletins, and none were found. At this point more diagnostic time is going to be needed. I suspect the issue may be due to the previous body repair. It is possible that a wiring harness was poorly installed or poor chassis ground could be the problem. The vibration you hear could be that the exhaust heat shield has started to loosen up and vibrated and rattles due to the engine revving. At this point a good technician is going to need to take time with additional testing. Depending on long it has been since the body repair, the insurance company may be able to open up an additional claim based on the first repair. 

Q. I have a new 2022 Honda Pilot with only 4000 miles on it. When I come to a stop, I get a message that reads “AUTO ENGINE IDLE STOP UNAVAILABLE “. The dealer did not find a code for this message. Any thoughts on this and the Pilot in general? 
A. Since the pandemic and more people working at home some vehicles such as yours are not being driven as much as others. Certain parameters need to be met, engine temperature, seat belts on and shifter in drive normal mode, not sport or manual gear selection etc. Also important is the battery needs to be fully charged. If the battery voltage is low, it may still be able to start the engine, but will limit the “Auto-Stop” feature. With the vehicle being new and such low mileage, it is possible the battery is not fully charged. The first thing to do would be fully charge the battery at a slow rate with a battery charger. Regarding the Honda Pilot, in spite of a few problems over the years with oil consumption it is still one of my favorite SUVs.