What’s wrong with my Avalon’s heat?

Q. I purchased my 2002 Toyota Avalon new and it is in excellent condition. The car has dual zone heating/air conditioning as well as heated seats. The problem is on the driver’s side, the heat/air conditioning will only go up; it is set to 83 degrees now, cannot go any lower, but will keep on going higher. Also the heated seat will not turn on. The passenger side heat and seat heater work fine, do you have a suggestion?

A. The seat heater switch is part of the climate control system and both problems could be related. My suggestion is to find a repair shop that is familiar with Toyota climate control systems or take the car to the dealer. A good independent repair shop could certainly fix the problem, but since this an uncommon problem, you may be paying for additional diagnostic time. The dealer may have seen this symptom before and offer a cheaper remedy.

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Q. I own a 2003 Mini Cooper and it has only about 38,000 on it (I love this car). The Mini service department, as well as my local auto repair man, told me that the oil pan has a very slow leak in it. They describe it as more like a weeping than leaking. I never see oil on the ground, and when checking the oil, I never see a loss of oil. I change the oil and filter once per year since I drive so little. I am tempted to add in one of the products that claim to seal oil leaks. The service technician tells me not to add the product. What is your opinion?

A. I don’t think I would do anything other than enjoy driving your car. Certainly the leak may not get any better by itself, but it may not get any worse. At this point, I would just monitor the oil leak and only consider a repair when you start to see spots on the ground. Regarding the use of an additive, I have had little success with these types of products.

Q. One day when it was very cold my car would not go over 15 miles per hour. I then pulled over and turned the car off and restarted the car and it ran fine. Could this have had something to do with the recent very low temperatures?

A. It is possible that all the right conditions were present that the fuel system throttle body built up with ice. Pulling to the side of the road and letting the car sit for a few minutes caused the ice to melt and allow the car to drive normally. Since the car is now running fine, I would write it off to an abnormality.

Q. I have been in the market for a new SUV for over a year now. Maybe you can help me with my decision. The Audi Q5 is so over done, Acura MDX has no style, FX by Infiniti is too long for me, I’m petite and the Mercedes GLK is too small. Should I go with the Jeep Grand Cherokee or maybe a Range Rover sport? My daughter says I’m a snob if I go with the Range Rover Sport or the Mercedes. Safety is my number one issue. I’m over 50 and always have some decorating project I need to carry. Do you have any suggestions?

A. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a great vehicle but will only get better for 2014. I recently saw the latest Jeep (pre-production) and liked the looks, but more importantly it will get a new eight speed transmission that will help improve fuel economy. The Range Rover Sport is a nice vehicle but drives bigger that its size. Have you looked at the Range Rover Evoque? The Evoque has more style than the GLK or Q5, although cargo space can be tight compared to the other competitors. One vehicle that I have always liked is the Mercedes Benz M-class. The M allows several engine choices including a diesel.