Q. I recently replaced my 2002
Chevrolet Impala, which I bought new and drove 130,000 miles, with a
Buick Lucerne, one of the last four the dealership had on its lot in
early June. I’ve asked four times to be given the brochure for
the Buick, as I’ve always kept one for each car I have bought.
The dealer didn’t have one the day I bought the car, but I was
assured it would get one for me. I don’t think I’m being
unreasonable asking for a brochure after not only buying a new car from
the dealer and previously spending lots of money at it for service work
on my cars. —B.E., Arlington Heights, Ill.
A. The dealer seems like a throwback to the 1950s. I’d contact its owner and demand the brochure—and then contact Buick’s customer service folks, who should be listed in the back of the owner’s manual of your car.
Q. I have a 2001 Honda Accord with 195,000 miles on it that still runs good and has had no major repairs. I’m torn between treating myself after all these years to a new car or keeping “old reliable.” Your opinion? — F.W., Glenview, Ill.
A. For heaven’s sake, get a new car. For one thing, I feel you owe it to yourself. And I assume that you’ve kept the Accord running safely by replacing safety and performance parts when they’ve come close to wearing out so you don’t injure yourself or others in an accident. No matter what type car, parts wear out.
Q. The tread on my car’s original equipment tires still looks good, although they’ve been driven 80,000 miles and are nine years old. I’d like to continue using them until 100,000 miles, or am I pushing the envelope? — F.K., Seattle, Wash.
A. Get rid of them.Tires that old develop flaws even if they’ve been left standing without being used for nine years—often in areas you can’t see.
Q. How many people on summer vacation drives know how to change a tire? — E.H., Baltimore, Md.
A. A Hankook Tire survey has found that 70 percent of Americans plan to take a road trip this summer and that the average road tripper will log 725 miles. The survey also found that, while 72 percent of men say they/re “very sure” they could change a tire, only 35 percent of females are sure about doing that. Hankook says consumers could save 11 center per gallon at the pump with properly inflated tires.
Q. What types of vehicles will
be more often used for vacation drives this summer? —G.C.,
A. Sedans will be chosen by 40 percent of travelers, says a survey conducted for CarMax Inc. The survey also says that, although SUVs and minivans provide more room for comfortable travel and luggage, only 26 and 13 percent, respectively, plan to take a road trip in those type vehicles this year. Only 8 percent will use a truck and just one percent will take a summer trip in a convertible. Some 42 percent said they would pack food instead of stopping at restaurants, and 39 percent said they would drive instead of fly. Almost 30 percent said they would vacation closer to home than they typically do.
Q. There are so many automakers selling cars and trucks in America that I’ve lost count of the number of them. And all vehicles look pretty much alike to me. What’s one of the most important things an automaker can do to attract customers? — R. B., Las Vegas, Nev.
A. Automakers are fighting to win customers by offering the “most appealing lineup of vehicles in history,” says J.D. Power and Associates, a well-known research firm. Its study found that overall vehicle appeal has reached an all-time high since the study’s inception in 1996. It added that recently launched all-new and redesigned models are “substantially more appealing” than their carryover counterparts. “Offering highly appealing vehicles is one of the primary means to succeed,” J.D. Power said. While it found all-new and redesigned models have more problems, on average, than carryover models, it also found these models are more likely to offer the styling, performance and features that customers are looking for. Consumers are generally more willing to pay more for vehicles that combine high appeal with high initial quality, it added.