‘Car Doctor’ Q&A – Saratogian

Q. I have a 2017 Kia EX 4 cylinder with 57,000 miles on it. While returning from Georgia, he broke down on Route 95 outside of Richmond VA. The Kia dealer said they needed a new GDI fuel pump, coil pack for the number 4 cylinder and an oxygen sensor. They said the oxygen sensor was the only thing covered by the warranty. A few days later they told me it needed a fuel injector not a fuel pump. Total repair cost $948 not to mention all the other costs just to make it happen. I guess I find it hard to believe that something like this wasn’t caused by some sort of factory defect. I’ve had the Kia serviced every 3000 miles since the first day at the dealership I bought it from. We own four Kias and have never had a problem. Could something like this happen without there being a factory defect?

A. At five years old, I wouldn’t call what happened a factory defect, but rather that the part failed. The question becomes what is covered by the warranty. Your vehicle’s emissions warranty, like most, is quite varied and somewhat confusing. Certain components are covered by a three-year 36,000, approximately five-year, 60,000-mile, and approximately eight-year, 80,000-mile warranty. Plus a five-year, 60-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year, 100,000 powertrain warranty. As an example, the ignition coil is only covered under the five-year 60,000-mile warranty which has unfortunately expired. At this point, I would call Kia customer service and ask the representative to review the invoice and explain why certain items were not covered by the various warranties.

Q. I have a 2014 Honda Pilot with approximately 110,000 miles. The service manual supplied with the vehicle does not mention when the timing belt should be changed. A friend who has the same vehicle was told by his mechanic that there is no need to change it unless you are using it for towing. Do we really need to change it?

A. Honda, like many vehicles, uses an indicator-based maintenance reminder system. The vehicle’s computer looks at driving conditions, mileage and temperatures to determine when certain items need repair. On your Pilot, the maintenance reminder is submenu number four. This includes the timing belt, spark plugs and some other repairs. AllData the technical database I use has an approximate conversion for maintenance reminder to mileage. In the case of your Honda, the recommendation for a timing belt replacement is around 105,000 miles. If this was my Honda Pilot and I was going to keep it, I would replace the timing belt, water pump and spark plugs.

Q. I am the first owner of a 2002 Toyota Tundra. I recently had a broken front strut and was told that my truck would not pass inspection in June due to rust, in especially brake lines, fuel lines, steering gear and chassis. A few years ago, Toyota attempted to fix the frame (by recall) by sandblasting and coating it. My questions are: Is Toyota no longer responsible for the corrosion on the frame and brake lines? Also, one of the issues with the recall, I unknowingly lost my spare tire. My other question is, if they are not responsible, is it time for me to part ways with my beloved truck. Incidentally, the body is in great shape considering its age and I have followed all the necessary maintenance.

A. The frame warranty is usually three years or 36,000 miles, but due to the rusting problem, Toyota extended the warranty coverage to 2012. The warranty covered the frame, but not the fuel lines and brakes, exhaust and other components attached to the frame. At this point, with significant rust, unless you are comfortable with the cost associated with replacing the entire frame and replacing all other rusted parts, it may be time to let your Tundra go.

Q. I have rented for many years. My current lease expires at the end of March. People are asking me to buy it this year. Especially due to the need for used cars today. The buyout seems very fair, and I have low mileage. I know I need to check my contract, but am I responsible for paying taxes again? Of course, they charge you on your first rental. My plan is to pay him back completely. What are your thoughts?

A. Every car manufacturer has “end of lease” advisors who can answer all of your questions. Generally, taxes are included in rental payments, so you may have paid part of the taxes. Rental tax also varies from state to state. I agree that if you’ve had your car serviced and it’s been no problem considering the crazy car market, there’s no better time to buy a rental car.

Q. I drive a newer Mercedes Benz AMG and it requires premium fuel. One day I needed gas and the station only had regular ones. When I got home, I mentioned to my wife that I had filled up with regular fuel and the car might “feel” different. She said she had read that it might void the warranty, is that true?
A. If your car requires a bounty, you must use it. In cases where there is no premium fuel available, you can use a lower octane fuel in an emergency (according to the Mercedes owner’s manual). Regular use of low octane fuel can damage the engine and void the warranty.

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