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The Yankee Express

CDs, LEDs and Rotors, Oh My!

John Paul

Q. I have a basic manual transmission 2019 Subaru Impreza 5-door (no frills). One thing I miss is not having a CD player which has been deemed no longer feasible. When I purchased the car, I asked if a CD player could be installed, and the dealers told me no. Can I have a CD player installed elsewhere and is my car capable of having Sirius Radio?
A. There are plenty of ways to go about this with add-on components. You can get a CD player that simply plugs into an available USB plug, SXM has adapters as well. But the other option is to upgrade the radio to one that has everything you want. If it were me, I would go to an auto stereo store and see what they have.  The other option is a Bluetooth adapter for SXM and stream from your phone to your current radio.  

Q. Two days after the water pump and timing chain in my 2015 Ford Explorer, an engine ratting noise started and it is coming from the timing chain area. I took it back twice, but they can’t locate the problem. The head technician has ideas where the noise is coming from but is not 100 percent sure. The Ford runs great, and I have a good relationship with the shop and the engine was quiet before this work was done.  I am trying to sell this car, but the noise is pushing buyers away. I also tried to trade it in but trade offer too low because of the engine noise. The dealership claimed it was the timing chain. 
A. If the noise is loud and only on, startup (4 hours plus sitting) the issue is with the camshaft phasers. The shop is likely reluctant to take the engine apart again to check their work (an all-day job) but this may be necessary to solve the problem.
Q. I’m writing about my 2013 Buick. I have to replace a blown headlight bulb. Can I legally replace it with a Sylvania XTRAVISION H11 bulb instead of a GM OEM? I read a review on the Sylvania bulb and one buyer said they both blew out in two months. He thought it was a fluke so he replaced them with the same Sylvanias and they both blew out in four months, four hours apart. Do you have any experience and recommendations with these bulbs? And what is your opinion on LED replacements for my car?

A. Proper lighting is important especially as we age. We need three times as much light to see at 60 years of age than we did at 20. I have mixed feelings about higher performance bulbs, I have Sylvania SliverStar Plus in my car now (about $55) and they are good. I have used them in the past in other vehicles and have only lasted about 18 months. They produce whiter light and certainly seem brighter. Conventional bulbs last a really long time, but they start to dim after three years. So sometimes just replacing the stock bulb with a new bulb just seems to make an improvement.  As far as LEDs, technically they are not legal, since they are bigger than stock bulb and throw the optics off. Yes, they will be brighter but may not be aimed properly. Also, some require additional kits to trick the body control computer. The LED bulbs draw less current, and the car’s computer thinks a bulb is out.  You will find that the LEDs are not made by Sylvania, Wagner, GE or other major lighting companies and use words like almost exact size, works with most vehicles, and my favorite 300% Brighter than halogen bulbs: Well, I don’t think you can have a bulb that is 300 percent brighter. Typical halogen bulbs are 1000 lumens, BMW high intensity discharge (HIDs) and LEDs are 2900 lumens. My poor math skills would put the LED claims at 150,000 lumens. 
Q. My neighbor is a mechanic and does the maintenance work on my car. He is going to replace my car’s rotors and brake pads. He is going to spray the rotors with a coating to prevent rust. Is this recommended because the rotors rust?

A. Seems like anything you spray on the rotors would wear right off since the brake pads are constantly “wiping” the rotors. A few years ago I even purchased rotors that we’re supposed to be impregnated with some anti corrosion material, after about 60 days they rusted. Surface rust is not a concern, it wears off after a few stops. As long as this spray is not oil based it shouldn’t case any harm but the results in my opinion will be short lived. Give it a try and let me know.

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 questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.