Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

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 @johnfpaul and friend him on facebook mrjohnfpaul

Q.    I have a question about gathering factory model specific information on a 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle sedan. My son bought the car in his junior year in high school (2011), and we’ve maintained it trying to stay to the OEM specs and parts as much as we could. We belong to a local VW club and get some tips and help from other members. But it seems like anyone who has a complete restoration, had a lot of the work done by VW specialty shops. My son is off at Berkeley now for the past 4 years working on his doctorate in material sciences. I have been keeping the car running and serviced.  I am trying to keep the small details as close to factory as possible but am having a hard time finding reliable factory information. Internet searches are frustrating and the documentation we have so far is sometimes not enough. Can you recommend any paths to get reliable information that can help us with this? 

A.    You may be able to find a service manual on eBay. This website has some pretty good original parts for sale as well as information https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/cat.php?id=29. There is Wagen-Werks https://www.wagen-werks.com/ which also has restoration parts. Bentley Publishers has a good range of books for early Volkswagens ranging from repair manuals to historical publications. www.bentleypublishers.com.

Q.    I have a 2014 Honda Accord that has warning lights on the dash for ABS, hands brake, VSA and power steering symbols. Altogether, at the same time and I have been told it is the ABS module. There’s no check engine lights on.  Can you tell me if car can pass inspection in Massachusetts since all these lights are related to ABS and in our state of Massachusetts ABS light is irrelevant? 

A.    You are correct that a vehicle with an ABS light on will be able to pass the Massachusetts safety inspection. The issue is that any red brake warning light is a failure. The reason is even though there may be no issue with the brake system, with the warning light illuminated you wouldn’t know if there was an actual issue with brake hydraulics of the parking brake. The repair could be the ABS module, but I would also check battery voltage and all power and ground connections. I have seen as many poor connection issues as I have faulty modules.
 
Q.    My 2017 BMW X5 5.0 came with run-flat tires which I have since replaced with traditional tires. I have called BMW to ask if they have a compact spare which could be used in an emergency and they have responded that they do not. Is there an aftermarket company or a compact spare tire that you could recommend? I thoughtBMW doesn’t make a spare tire kit for your vehicle. Since many owners don’t like the idea of driving without a spare tire, aftermarket companies are addressing this need. After a search, I found a company on-line: Modern Spare (https://modernspare.com). This company sells a complete kit, spare tire, and wheel as well and a jack and lug wrench for about $500. Although pricey, if I had a vehicle with conventional tires, I would want a temporary spare tire. 

A.    BMW doesn’t make a spare tire kit for your vehicle. Since many owners don’t like the idea of driving without a spare tire, aftermarket companies are addressing this need. After a search, I found a company on-line: Modern Spare (https://modernspare.com). This company sells a complete kit, spare tire, and wheel as well and a jack and lug wrench for about $500. Although pricey, if I had a vehicle with conventional tires, I would want a temporary spare tire. 


Q.    I have a 2006 Volkswagen convertible and the rear window is stuck halfway up. I can hear the motor, but the window won’t move. It is a convertible and I’m putting it away for the winter. What is wrong and can I fix it myself? 

A.    This is a typical failure. I have replaced both the left and right window lift mechanisms on my wife’s VW. The system uses a cable arrangement to move the window on the track. You can by a repair kit online for about $30. The repair is not that difficult, but time consuming. You need to remove the rear seat, door panel and window.  Once you get to that point you should be able to remove the mechanism and replace the damaged parts, an extra set of hands is helpful. Take plenty of pictures and watch some videos on YouTube and you should be able to repair it.