Should I Buy a 2020 Compact SUV?
s. I’m thinking of buying a used 2020 Buick Encore. The car has 47,000 miles on it, and the local dealer has very good reviews. It looked great and went very well.
a. This was a car that Buick leased at very reasonable rates, in some cases around $200 a month. These are now good used car buys. The 2020 model year was one of the best years. The previous year’s cars had engine, transmission and electrical problems. I looked back at the review I wrote of the Buick Encore and found it was quiet with decent performance, but the cabin was cramped and there were some blind spots while driving. If you’re comfortable driving the car, I would have it checked out at an independent shop, and if it’s a good price, buy it.
s. We have a 2017 Ford Flex with 30,000 miles on it. When braking hard, a slight pull to the right develops. This does not affect steering and does not appear to be an imminent danger. The car has never been in an accident and is only driven six months out of the year because we are snowbirds. We took the car to a local Ford dealer and they installed complete brakes, including brake rotors, and did a wheel alignment. This did not solve the problem. Then they replaced the flexible brake hoses at all wheels – no correction has been made yet. Then they waited for Ford’s supervisor to get his opinion. They took it for a test drive and the problem is still there. After having the car for two weeks, they called and asked to pick it up. They threw their hands in the air and said they couldn’t solve the problem!
a. The idea of the dealer and Ford giving up is a very nice idea, and I hope they don’t charge you for all the guesswork. It is very important when looking for brake problems to perform a complete visual inspection. Hopefully the store will exclude simple items like tires. One issue I found was premature wear of a component referred to as the rear toe link. This is something they should have checked, but may have missed.
s. I have a 2011 Toyota Prius with 91,000 miles. I recently acquired a new aftermarket hybrid battery from my repair shop. The car has been running fine for a few months. Recently a warning light came on and a message appeared saying: “Check hybrid battery.” I took it to the dealer who told me it needed a new hybrid battery, but I said no. Now I’m stuck and having to tow it because I can’t shift from park to gear. At this time, the engine will not start. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
a. The dealer probably condemned the hybrid battery because it wasn’t a Toyota replacement. I have found and heard from readers across the country that aftermarket hybrid batteries work well. Even though the car is a hybrid, it still needs a good 12-volt battery, alternator, and electrical connections. The idea of the car not starting seems like a bigger problem with a 12 volt battery. At this point, it appears that you will have to have the vehicle towed back to the shop that replaced the traction battery, due to the warning light message. Most aftermarket hybrid batteries have at least a one-year warranty. Meanwhile, have them check the 12V battery and other electrical components.
s. I want to buy a battery charger. I was looking at the NOCO GENIUS10 and GENIUS5. Do any of these chargers fit a 2019 Nissan Sentra, Ford F-150, and Jeep? I don’t want to go out and buy something that’s going to be too strong. What about Noko? I seem to remember you were the battery tender guy.
a. These are battery saver chargers, designed to maintain your car’s battery when not in use. These units will charge the battery, although they charge at a relatively slow rate (which is good for the battery). Read the specifications which one best suits your needs. I’ve never used a NOCO charger, but I’ve been happy with NOCO’s emergency jump packs. I have one in my car and one on my little boat.
John Paul is the automotive physician at AAA Northeast. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Email your Car Doctor question to email@example.com. Listen to the Car Doctor podcast on johnfpaul.podbean.com.