Questions and answers from the ‘Car Doctor’ – troyrecord


Q. I own a 2021 Hyundai Palisade which is a great car. The only problem is that the glove box doesn’t have a lock. The Hyundai dealership said that Hyundai makes a lock that can be installed, and I also can’t find an aftermarket lock that can be used.

A. Interestingly, the Kia Telluride (corporate twin of the Palisade) has a locking glove box. It may even be possible to replace the glove box door with the Telluride door. In my experience, the locks on most glove boxes aren’t very deterrent. Personally, I would be hard pressed to spend $500 (online replacement door and lock) plus labor even, even if it was possible to change them. Personally, I would find a small lock box and just store it in the center console. It would be out of sight and at least locked.

Q. On November 19, 2014, I called AAA and said my battery was dead. A man came to my house and installed an AAA battery. Next November, it will be eight years. My question is this good for a AAA battery. I’ve had a few cars in my life, but I’ve never had such long battery life.

A. The average battery in the Northeast lasts about five years. The average battery life in hot weather is closer to three years. AAA batteries are guaranteed for a total of six years, so you’re well past the warranty and certainly nearing the end of its useful life. I also have a car with an eight year old battery and although it is working well, to avoid a problem it will be replaced before the cold weather.

Q. I have a 1989 Buick Century Presidential edition that I cherish for sentimental reasons and also because I am small and easy to see. Even though my car is still parked, I’ve had to deal with rusting issues over the years from salt air, snow, and road salt. Recently it was reported that the axle was so rusty that there was a hole in it. My mechanic who took care of the car couldn’t find the part. He tried the General Motors parts department as well as several salvage locations but couldn’t find the part. Do you have any suggestions where to find parts for my car?

A. I would go online and try eBay Motors, Amazon and All of these online stores sell used parts. The other option is to find a talented welder. A good welding shop may be able to reinforce the rusted area and breathe new life into your Buick.

Q. I see E85 gasoline at a much lower price than regular unleaded used in my 2019 Mazda 3 and 2016 Honda Civic. Can I use this type of gasoline in my cars? If not, which cars can use this gasoline? I also wanted to say that I read and enjoy your car column every week.

A. Only cars and their engines labeled Flex-fuel can use 85% ethanol fuel. Unfortunately, your Mazda and Honda are not compatible with E-85 fuel and using it will damage the engine. The Alternative Fuels Data Center,, has a list of vehicles that can use E-85 fuel as well as other interesting information about alternative fuels.

Q. You have helped me in the past, my wife drives a Ford Taurus. We’re trying to figure out which car or SUV that would suit our needs that offers all-wheel drive and is also good on gas and more importantly affordable. We reviewed the Subaru Forester which sounded okay and might suit our active lifestyle. We had great luck with the Mazda 6 you recommended 10 years ago. No suggestions?

A. Certainly, the Subaru is a good choice, solid and reliable with many safety features. Depending on the budget, the Hyundai Santa Fe or the smaller Tucson is a good choice, as well as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4. Additionally, many of these vehicles have hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. Recently I reviewed the Mazda CX-50, which is similar to the CX-5 but has additional off-road capabilities. The CX-50 can fit your lifestyle and give you the Mazda reliability you value.

Q. I hope you can guide me. I own a 2018 Honda Civic with 23,000 miles, which was purchased new. The air conditioner stopped working a few weeks ago. I took it to the dealership where I purchased this vehicle. Although the car is no longer under warranty, there is an extended warranty (10 years) for the air conditioner condenser. The condenser was replaced and I was informed that I also needed a new air conditioning compressor at a cost of $2100. I called the Honda company in California to ask them how does this happen? I was told this was happening and it was due to my driving as I don’t run the AC in the winter. I have since realized that I run the air conditioning in the winter when I defrost the windshield. AC power turns on automatically. The woman handling my case said the owner’s manual says to run the AC in the winter. So my question for you, as I appreciate the opinion, does a faulty condenser cause the compressor to fail or malfunction? Also, will installing an aftermarket compressor cause future problems?

A. It’s not that unusual to replace an air conditioner compressor when replacing other components. The leak could have caused a lack of lubrication which could have led to the failure of the compressor or debris from the faulty condenser could have caused the failure. The reason for the compressor failure due to not using air conditioning all year round is not a good answer. You are correct that depending on the temperature when using the defroster, the air conditioner will turn on to remove the humidity. Also, there are very few parts of the country where you would use air conditioning all year round. As for installing an aftermarket air conditioner compressor, that’s certainly a reasonable option.

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