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The Yankee Express

May 28-June 25, 2021

May 26, 2021 06:02PM ● By Chuck Tashjian
Q.
I am considering a new car with pushbutton start and keyless entry. What does AAA do when the battery in a keyless entry car dies, you are on the road and locked out?

A.
The key-fob contains a hidden key that, in most cases, slides out of the key fob. The key is then used to open the locked car. In nearly every car there is at least one door lock (it may be hidden under some trim on the door handle. Once inside depending on the car, there is a spot to hold the key-fob while pushing the start button. Even a key-fob with a nearly dead battery has enough energy to communicate with the car to get the engine started. 

Q.
Our mechanic is suggesting that we change the timing belt/chain on our 2013 VW Beetle-Fender edition. The reason is that the engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and it is an inherent problem that the timing belt/chain breaks or comes off and destroys the engine. The mileage on the car is 107,000, and I intend to drive it for a few more years. The mechanic also says that the rear main seal is leaking a little bit and should be replaced. Should we do this work as well or just put an additive in to possibly correct the problem. The mechanic said an additive could cause more of a leak. It’s approximately $1,400.00 to change the rear main seal. Please advise if the timing belt/chain issue is something that should be done, and when. Are you aware if VW has any sort of recall regarding this issue or will pay for this work to be done?

A.
In certain model Volkswagens with this engine, the timing chain (which typically lasts the life of the car) failed early. There was a class action lawsuit that, from what I have read for certain qualified vehicles, has warranties on timing chains and timing chain tensioners have been extended by Volkswagen to 10 years or 100,000 miles. This leads me to believe that the timing chain typically fails earlier in the life of the engine and perhaps you and your car are one of the lucky ones. Regarding the rear main oil leak, it will not get any better by itself, but it may not get any worse. So perhaps in the case of the oil leak “watchful waiting” makes the most sense. Regarding additives that stop leaks, I am generally not a fan, but I haven’t seen any that cause harm.  Some readers have told me of success using “high-mileage” oil that has additives to stop or slow leaks. Perhaps try that oil on your vehicle’s next oil change. 

Q.
I’m in the market for an SUV, however I find that most of the SUVs are all-wheel-drive which I don’t feel I need as I drive only four thousand miles a year and I don’t drive in the snow.  Besides traction on slippery roads why do I need a vehicle with AWD.  Is AWD standard on most SUVs or is there an option?

A.
All wheel drive offers better traction in all driving conditions, but even all-wheel-drive, as good as it is, can’t change the law of physics. Here in the Northeast most sport utility vehicles are all-wheel-drive; in Southern states that isn’t always the case. The other issue is that if you order an SUV in front-wheel-drive, when it comes time to trade it in, it will have less value than a comparable AWD SUV. Depending on your budget, the Kia Soul (FWD only vehicle) has the utility of an SUV. If you wanted to move upscale, a Volvo wagon is always a good choice.  
I have a 2006 Ford Mustang GT.  The headlight lens/covers (which are plastic and part of the headlights) are very fuzzy and cloudy.  I have tried the headlight cleaners in the auto store to no avail.  I have also tried scrub pads I read about online, but still not good.  Any suggestions what to do?  New headlights are $400 apiece. 

Q.
I have a 2006 Ford Mustang GT.  The headlight lens/covers (which are plastic and part of the headlights) are very fuzzy and cloudy.  I have tried the headlight cleaners in the auto store to no avail.  I have also tried scrub pads I read about online, but still not good.  Any suggestions what to do?  New headlights are $400 apiece. 

A.
At 15 years old the plastic may have deteriorated to a point where they cannot be polished back to satisfactory performance. Although the factory headlamp assemblies are $400 each, you could try an aftermarket replacement. I have seen CAPA (Certified Auto Parts Association) approved replacement headlight assemblies including the bulb for $80 each online. The new light will improve the headlight performance as well as the appearance of the car.