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Car Doctor: 2010 Subaru shakes on the highway

Posted by John Paul  July 22, 2011 04:57 PM

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Q. I have a 2010 Subaru Legacy and it has a vibration at highway speeds. The dealer has balanced the tires, but the vibration continues. What could be wrong?

A. Subaru has had a few problems with vibration concerns. Some of the issues can be corrected with tire balancing, if performed correctly. The second repair involves replacing some suspension bushings. The bushing replacement should be covered under the basic warranty.

Q. I am looking for your suggestions on a five passenger SUV. I would like something that is roomy inside, handles well on the road, returns good mileage, and is safe. I also hope not to spend more than $28,000. There are so many choices these days and would like to narrow my search if possible.

A. You are correct that there are plenty of choices but one that to me comes to the top of the list is the Hyundai Sante Fe. It has a great warranty, standard stability control, quiet, comfortable ride, and did well in crash tests. The Ford Edge is also worth looking at; it seats five and is an all-around good performer. Although a bit on the smaller side, the Subaru Forester is always a good choice. It's comfortable, dependable, and redesigned with a more contemporary style. Readers, what are your thoughts?

Q. Based on your review, I’m hoping to order a Chevy Volt. I commute 49 miles round trip and fully expect to drive 34 miles gas-free. The additional 15 miles should cost me about $2 to $3. This works out to a saving of $65 a week over my Jeep SUV. I haven’t driven the Volt yet, but hope to at the Main Street in Motion-General Motors event. Would you say my calculations are correct?

A. Based on my experience with the Chevy Volt I would say your calculations are “spot-on.” In fact, in the time I drove the Volt, it had hardly any impact on my electric bill — although there most certainly is an electric cost. Now keep in mind to save $65 a week you are spending $41,000. To make this less confusing to consumers, the EPA has developed new fuel economy labels.

Q. I have a 1996 Volvo 850 wagon and have discovered the trip odometer stays frozen at 000 and the odometer is stuck at 213627. I am also having a hard time turning the radio on after replacing the battery. My co-worker with the same model has the same problem. Is there a quick and simple fix I could do myself?

A. One possible problem is with the vehicle speed sensor; this sensor relays the information to the speedometer and odometer. Of course it could be a faulty speedometer or wiring problem. The radio features anti-theft circuitry. If the radio is removed from the vehicle or if the battery power is disconnected, a special code must be entered to enable operation of the set. You should have a radio code card. If not, you will need to go back to the dealer to retrieve the code.

Q. What is your opinion on the 2006 Nissan Altima? I have seen one that interests me and it looks like a good deal.

A. The Altima is a decent car but does suffer from some recalls that need to be looked at. The recalls involve stalling, possible engine fires, and a defect in the rear sub-frame. Before buying the car have a complete evaluation performed.

John Paul is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. He can be reached at or on Twitter @johnfpaul.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Boston Overdrive reports the latest trends, auto shows and wrings out the newest cars in our city's hellish maze — and across the great roads of New England.
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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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