New and used car
Audi’s A5 – Buy Now or Later? PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

My wife and I are shopping for a new car and discovered Audi’s A5. We absolutely love the looks and how it drives. We were smitten as soon as we drove it. We understand there is a difference in performance between the A5 and the S5, but the car seems to be what we want.

Our question is: Have you heard anything about the A5/S5? A good build or so/so? We know it is on the A6 chassis, but this is a new design for Audi. Does this look like a model that will have to go through numerous years of maturation to get right or can Audi get it right the first time?

Any info you can offer up on this car will be greatly appreciated. It is way too expensive to make a mistake on it.

Thanks,

Mike


Dear Mike,

You obviously have your doubts about buying the new Audi its first year out of the gate, and rightfully so! I always tell everyone to wait until the second year of any new make and model no matter the manufacturer, so that it gives them time to get out all of the kinks. I have heard all of the hype about the A5 and think it will be a great ride once it hits the streets.

Audi made a ton of improvements in 2001 and I have always recommended and stood behind their product by giving the consumer all of the luxury amenities without breaking the bank. By waiting until the second year of this beast being out of the gate, you will save yourself a lot of time by not having to repeatedly go into the service department at your local Audi dealership.

Thanks for writing in,
BT

 
Customized Speakers and Resale value PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

Will it hurt the resale value of my car by adding customized stereo/speakers that are not factory?

Thanks,

Ralph


Dear Ralph,

In general, when you make any after-market change to your vehicle, you will be simultaneously modifying the potential buyers of your car. This can be positive or negative. There obviously is a range of modifications from minor to major that can be done to a vehicle. A paint job, if you go out and paint your car in some custom manner or funky hot pink color with wild green racing stripes, you will limit the amount of potential buyers drastically and probably reduce its value. I mean who wants to own a hot pink car or a car that looks like a snake skin? But, if all you do is change out the factory stereo system to an upgraded multi-disk CD player and equalizer, then I think you will be fine, but keep in mind that there is a person out there that will not want anything that has altered the way the car ran off of the assembly line.

I would also strongly suggest when creating the classified ad that you will put into the Houston Chronicle Auto section in order to sell your car, talk about how you have increased the value of the car by investing money in upgrades and make sure to inform the potential buyer that the upgrades were performed by a reputable vendor. It is also extremely important to maintain the proper service of your car on a regular basis to assure longevity and prevent it from, let’s say, backfiring when that potential buyer comes to take it for a test drive!

Also invest a little time to detail your car; I used to have a saying in the car business: spend $50.00 to get $500.00 more for that car.

Back to your original question, as long as your speakers produce a high-quality sound and do not negatively impact other features of the vehicle, you will be fine. On the other hand, if there is no longer enough room in the trunk left for a flashlight, you may have a problem.

Thanks for writing in,
BT

 
97 Honda Civic with Sputtering Problems PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I have a 97 Honda Civic with 228k miles, and so far I have had very few problems with it. Recently, the catalytic converter was replaced (on March 22). On April 11, the car would not start; there was sputtering as if the engine was trying to turn over. It was raining pretty hard, so I thought perhaps that was my problem.

I tried starting the car the next day, but it still had the same problem. On Sunday, before having the car towed to my mechanic, it started without a problem. My mechanic diagnosed the car as having "corroded" lines to the battery and so I had those replaced, and when I went to pick up the car, it started just fine. I drove to the nearest gas station and filled up the tank, and once again it started just fine. However, when I came to a red light, there was a hesitation and sputtering as though the engine wanted to shut off, but it did not.

A few hours later, I tried to restart the car; it sputtered and died, so I waited a few minutes and tried it again. The car came on and I let it run for a few minutes. It seemed to do okay, but I am a little concerned about putting it into traffic. I would like to keep this car for at least two more months. Do you have any ideas what could be going on?

Thanks,

John


Dear John,

To me, it sounds like you’re “round the world and back”. Honda needs to be retired. I hate to say this, but you may need to park it and give the poor, worn-out car a break. This is a tough one with the amount of miles because it could be a zillion possibilities. I would first get a fuel pressure test to see if you have good fuel pressure. You may need a fuel pump.

You might also run a compression test to see what type of condition your cylinders are in, and you might possibly be able to get a few more months out of your car by having a full-blown tune-up performed. How long has it been since you put new plugs and wires into it?

Thanks for writing in, and keep in mind that cars do not last a lifetime and you have been extremely fortunate to get this many miles out of yours.
BT

 
2007 Tundra 5.7 Engine Noise PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I am a faithful reader of your column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’.

I also know that you are a fan of Toyota Tundras, so I have a question for you about the 5.7 engine in my 2007 Tundra.

My truck runs great, but starting at about 4000 miles, I noticed a ticking or clicking noise from the engine. At low speed and in cooler weather, it is almost a mild diesel-like sound or perhaps a piston slap sound. I have taken my truck in to the Toyota dealer but they say the sounds are normal, because it is a big engine and that, because it is a truck, there is not that much insulation to dampen the noise.

The sound is much more pronounced when you are behind the steering wheel than when you open the hood and listen from the outside.

What are your thoughts on the noises I am hearing and have you heard anything about excessive engine noise with the 5.7 engine? I just find it hard to believe that these sounds are normal in a new vehicle, especially when they seem to be getting louder the more miles that I drive.

Thanks,

Thad


Dear Thad,

You are right… I do love Tundras, especially the 5.7 liter!

You need to get a second opinion from another Toyota dealership in town that is not attempting to blow air up your skirt. This particular motor… heck, no new motor makes this kind of noise that you are describing.

You have an internal engine problem that is covered under the factory warranty and Toyota will stand behind this. Remember that old saying “a squeaky wheel gets the grease” Thad; you need to be squeaky wheel with this problem until they correct it.

Thanks for writing in and being a faithful reader of my Column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’.
BT

 
Used Car’s Maintenance History PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I was sent one of your articles that appeared in the Houston Chronicle over the weekend and I just wanted to get your opinion. My wife purchased a used 2003 GMC Denalli from a local dealership in San Antonio in 2004. The vehicle appeared to be in excellent shape and well-maintained. I asked the sales manager and the general manager of the dealership if this vehicle had been in an accident. They both responded ‘no’. I also ran a Carfax report on the vehicle and it came back clean.

However, when my wife tried to trade-in her car at another dealership, they did a Carfax report as well and this time the report indicated that this vehicle had in fact been in an accident and had frame damage. Almost a year had past from the time the vehicle was involved in an accident to the time that it was listed on Carfax. Why would it take so long for Carfax to process this information? To add insult to injury, Carfax states in "fine print" that after you pay money to use their service, you must also register for their "buyback guarantee". I am frustrated with both the car dealership that sold my wife this vehicle and Carfax for not processing VIN# information in a timely manner and not being clear on their buyback policies. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks for reading my lengthy e-mail.

Sincerely,
Mike


Dear Mike,

The sales manager and General Manager both know how to look for paintwork and of course frame damage, and they do not solely depend on Carfax to tell them this. When they take a trade in, buy a vehicle at an auction, or from a wholesaler, one of the first things that they do is look for paintwork and not only depend on running a Carfax to tell them about the vehicle’s history.

Working in that part of the industry for years, I know this to be fact! They pop the hood and look for replacement fenders and or paintwork tape lines along with popping the doors and rear trunk, hatch, or tailgate, and also look for the same proof of paintwork and/or frame damage. You do have a legal right to stand on and they are required to take it back if they did not disclose it to you that the vehicle had prior paintwork. Hire an attorney and I bet your problem gets rectified in a quick manner!

Good luck and keep me updated!
BT

 
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