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The Yankee Express

Jeep Wrangler a good summer and winter vehicle … but …

John Paul

Q. I was wondering if people hire you to find vehicles for them. If so, how does that process work? I am looking for a relatively inexpensive Jeep Wrangler for the beach. If you do not, do you have any leads? Favorite websites? Any help will help.

A. There are car brokers who search for vehicles (not me, perhaps a second career). Today new and used cars are still in short supply and people are holding onto their current vehicle longer than any time in history. The Jeep Wrangler is a fun summer and winter vehicle and also holds its value longer than many SUVs. If I was looking, I would check Jeep forums, Facebook pages, and websites such as iSeeCars, CarGurus and AutoTrader. Jeeps can also be prone to rust issues, transmission and transfer case failure and any used Jeep should be checked by a good repair shop prior to purchase. 

Q.I have a problem that I hope you can help me with. I have a 2019 Toyota Highlander. About a year ago, it started having a problem with the rear hatchback door. Sometimes when I press the button to open it, it begins to open about one foot or so but then stops.  Sometimes I am unable to get it opened or closed but after a few tries it does. I brought it to the dealer who said they ran a diagnostic test but tells me everything looks okay.

A.I would start by erasing the vehicle computer memory (the equivalent of a computer reboot). Start with disconnecting the battery and connect the cable ends together for 15 seconds. This will clear any memory functions (including radio presets and seat memory).  Now you will need to reprogram the lift gate. With the lift gate fully open push and hold the close button until it beeps four times, and the lift gate closes. This will reset the system. You will also need to reset the auto up and down feature of the windows. This is also simple, open the driver’s window fully, now close the window and hold the up button for a few seconds this should reset the automatic controls. 

Q.I have owned a 2010 VW EOS since 2012. It had about 57,000 miles on it and is great running condition. In the years that I’ve owned it, I have had the convertible top repaired a number of times due to failure to open or close and/or water leakage. The dealership I had covered the cost of these repairs because the EOS was still under warranty. We moved to a location that was very far away and began using another VW dealership for repairs and general servicing. The top had to be repaired about three or four times because it would stop going up and down or leaked repeatedly and had to be brought in to be fixed. These repairs were very expensive, but I was able to deal with it. Finally, I brought the EOS in due to leakage and of the opening and closing of the top again. The dealership kept my car for about a week and finally called me and asked that I come in and discuss what needed to be done. When I got there, he told me that the entire top had to be replaced to the tune of $15,000 and would not be covered. The top does not work, and it still leaks.

A.There have been many technical service bulletins about that roof, which when it works correctly is a mechanical marvel. I have seen many seal leaks to the roof so it won’t go up or down in hot weather. It is very complicated with servos motors and computers, but for the life of me I don’t know why you would replace the steel roof when there are so many other parts to check. I would ask the VW dealer if they could contact a VW field engineer and see if they can offer a better solution than spending more on the roof than the value of the car. 

Q.My 2009 Chevy Silverado needs the passenger side upper control arm replaced according to the local garage mechanic. I have been out of the shade-tree mechanic practice for years and so am confused.  Should I replace both the left and right upper control arms and ball joints? The mechanic says in order to save me money, only the one side upper needs replacement. Also, I thought that the lower control arms and ball joints bear most of the weight of the vehicle so that is most likely to go bad. Any thoughts?

A.You are correct in the suspension style used in your truck, the lower control arms and ball joints carry the majority of the load. It is also typical the right will wear more rapidly since the right-side tire is in the gutter of the road. Considering the cost of parts and labor these days I see no reason only to repair what is wrong now. I would also thank your mechanic for looking out for both your safety and wallet. 

Q.While waiting for various traffic lights I hear people in cars next to mine also waiting for the light, turning on and off their cars.  Is the purpose of turning on and off the car to save gas and do you recommend I do this to save gas?

A.Many cars made in the past few years use an idle stop feature that when certain conditions are met, will stop the engine to save fuel. These cars will typically have more robust battery and starter. In your car to save fuel, keep tires properly inflated, accelerate gradually and apply the brakes gently. Easy on the gas and brake saves fuel, stay at the speed limit and if you frequent coffee and other fast food drive throughs park the car and walk in. These small changes in driving habits have proven to save gas and improve overall miles per gallon. 

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 readers’ questions each week. You can find the Car Doctor podcast at or on other popular podcast sites. Email your car questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.