Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Hybrids make this the golden age of the automobile

Q. I’m considering buying a 2023 Hybrid SUV. What vehicles do you recommend? Is the Honda Pilot, which I have now, going to have a hybrid engine available?

A. Honda has been slower to expand its hybrid offerings, even though Honda was the first automaker to offer a hybrid (Insight) in the USA. Based on what I have read I don’t believe we will see a Pilot hybrid in the next few years. Depending on what you are looking for you have many choices. Today many manufacturers offer both traditional hybrids and plugin hybrids (PHEV). Some of the PHEVS are the Toyota RAV4 Prime, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, all which offer some pure electric range and the added fuel economy of a hybrid. For a conventional hybrid the Toyota Highlander would be a good choice as would the slightly smaller Honda CR-V hybrid. Going upscale the Lexus RX and Volvo XC60 recharge would be worth looking at. Considering the amount of choices a consumer has, today in some ways is really the “golden-age” of the automobile. 

Q. I tuned into your radio program and didn’t find the Car Doctor, where did you go and how can I get my “Car Doctor “fix? I’m a long-time listener who has won several cool prizes including a AAA membership. 

A. The last station I was on, WBOQ, was sold to a large broadcaster. Every week when I finished the program I would take the entire program and turn it into a podcast. I’m still continuing to add podcasts each week. Like the radio program these will include interesting guests, car reviews and listener submitted questions. You can find the podcast at or other popular podcast directories. Just search for Car Doctor Radio. 

Q. We’re considering taking our new Hyundai Ioniq 5 to Florida this coming January and know that we have to consider the location and availability of EV chargers along the way to make the trip successful and less stressful. Any suggestions? 

A. Last year I drove back and forth to Florida and spotted many electric vehicles on my trip that were hundreds of miles from home, so it is certainly possible. Most electric vehicles with navigation systems allow for easy searching of EV charging. I would also download all of the popular apps such as EVgo, ChargePoint, AAA, Plug Share and Electrify America. Tesla also has stated that they will open up their Superstation to non-Tesla vehicles by year end which will certainly help. 

Q. I have a 2012 Chrysler 300c with 24,000 miles on it. The malfunction indicator light came on. According to the manual if it is not blinking it may reset after a few cycles of driving. It did not. I took it to a mechanic, and he did a check and two things came up (bad/dirty oil and a misfire on cylinder seven). He said first thing he would do is change the oil which was due anyway. I picked the car up and within a few miles the light was back on. I took it right back and he said the cylinder seven is still coming up as a misfire. According to him four out of the eight cylinders shut down when the eco light comes on but cylinder seven is not. He wants to check the car out and change the solenoid which he said would cost about $500. What do you think? 

A. This is certainly a plausible answer. Also, these engines are very fussy when it comes to oil type. It is important to use only 5W-20 weight and change it often. I have seen the valve train stick due to old or wrong grade oil and have misfire codes. If the engine is running normally but the light comes on perhaps drive it for a bit, then change the oil again. 

Q. My 2011 Hyundai Accent over the past several months started to buck and makes a banging noise. This happens when trying to move from a stop or trying to go faster in first gear.  Not all the time, just randomly. It’s been happening more often recently. I took it to the garage and drove it with them but of course, the car didn’t act up.  They said they can’t fix it if they don’t see it happen. This makes sense and I appreciate their honesty however, that doesn’t help me.  When the car starts to buck, I have to play with the clutch and very slowly ease the car faster, not great when cars are coming at you.  I’m hoping the car doesn’t finally conk out in an intersection. Any thoughts? 

A. Engine bucking is usually related to an engine misfire. This could be due to a faulty sparkplugs or a faulty ignition coil. The other possibility is a worn/broken engine or transmission mount. When mounts are worn, and you accelerate the engine can bounce and bang under the hood. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your car questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook, mrjohnfpaul.