Q. I often see Range Rovers on television and they look pretty impressive. Are they worth the money? Although I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to buy one, I can dream.
A. The latest Range Rover is a very impressive vehicle. The interior is very luxurious, certainly as nice as any premium sedan. With older models, I was always somewhat critical of the on-road handling. The last Land Rover that I drove was the best Land Rover to date, with much improved ride and handling. Where the Range Rover may surprise people is how competent its off-road abilities are. The Range Rover can handle any weather conditions and just about any terrain in its path.
Q. My family has recently expanded to include a daughter and 100 pound dog. We are currently in the market for a car that can handle our new additions plus a future child. Since we are still in a recession and times are tough, I was wondering if you could recommend a particular car that meets our needs for reliability, comfort, and gas stinginess. So far, I've looked at the Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, and the Subaru Outback. Any recommendations?
A. Of the cars you have looked at, the Subaru offers, in my opinion, the best combination of fuel economy, reliability and comfort, followed by the newest CRV. Since I don’t have a dog or kids, let’s see if the readers with dogs and kids will make some additional recommendations. Readers email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I have an Acura that I brought in for a 60K check yesterday. At 39K, I was told that the brakes were 36 and 46 percent worn respectively. At 48K, the brakes were 49 and 51 percent worn. At 59,000 miles, I was told the rear brakes were more than 95% worn and I needed new pads and rotors! How can they get so worn in such a short time? I've never had a car that I could just replace brake pads- it always ends up being a major repair even though I'm religious about bringing my vehicles in for regular service. Is this a scam on the part of the dealerships? Is it even worth having regular service, or should I just wait until things fall apart?
A. I certainly believe in regular and preventative maintenance; it is my opinion that it pays off in the long run. Regarding the brake wear issue, certainly a good technician can look and give a “guesstimate” of remaining brake life. I personally find it a little hard to believe that any repair shop could be this precise in determining brake wear. Whenever in doubt, get a second opinion.
Q. My 2002 Mercury Sable seems to idle very high. My mechanic put it on the computer and said nothing is wrong. It seems likes it accelerates some on its own while driving and the needle will go up and down- especially when the car is in park. I have owned this car for nine years now and it was fine up to this point.
A. The idle speed is controlled by the idle air control motor. If the IAC is sticking, it can cause the idle speed to be out of specification. Prior to looking at this part, I would want to check the basics. Something as simple as a vacuum leak could be the cause of the problem.
Q. I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla and I'm thinking of replacing the timing belt. I’ve done some research and I am a bit confused. On various websites I have read some owners replace timing belts at 100,000, others 150,000 miles. My car has 90,000 miles on it now. Can you please advise me on this matter?
A. My first bit of advice is don’t believe everything you read on the internet. The 1.8 liter engine in your Toyota Corolla uses a timing chain and not a timing belt. The timing chain requires no regular maintenance and should last the life of the car.
Reader response: Several readers with Lincoln Town Car and Ford Crown Victoria models suggested that the water leak in a past column could be caused by a leak near the passenger side windshield wiper. Leaves collect in this area of the cabin filter, causing a problem that results in water leaking into the cabin.
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About Boston Overdrive
|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
|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 About.com. 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