Dear car talk: I retired last month and my husband passed away unexpectedly shortly after that. Now I own two cars.
First, a used 2019 Toyota Prius Prime with 8,700 miles was purchased in Super Speed Red paint. So far, I’ve only plugged the Prius into my garage, where my husband installed a plug for it.
Second, a new 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE with Ruby Flare Pearl paint with 10,000 miles was purchased. The Camry has aftermarket macadamia leather seats.
Both cars have all doors and bumpers to resist scratches and dings. Both are subject to a purchased extended warranty. What car do you advise me to sell? Thank you! — that
Dear Anne: Please accept my condolences, Anne. I didn’t know your husband, but you both clearly had good taste in cars.
This is the question you have to answer, Anne: What car do you like driving the most? Which one makes you feel more comfortable behind the wheel? In which car do you feel safe, in control and comfortable? This is the one you should keep.
The truth is that you have two great options here, and either one should be expected to last for many years and be largely trouble-free. They both get great gas mileage. The Prius is famous for this (54 mpg, even without plug-in). But the Camry Hybrid is almost as good, as it’s rated at an impressive 52 mpg overall.
The Camry is more substantial and a bit safer. I think it’s also quieter and more comfortable. And if you had to carry four people for a long trip, I’m sure they’d rather be in a Camry than a Prius. But maybe you rarely do, in which case it doesn’t matter. But you can’t make a bad decision here, Anne. Any car will serve you very well.
I? I take those macadamia leather seats.
Dear car talk: I have a 2002 Saturn L200. The control knob that directs air for heating and air conditioning no longer works.
Air is just coming out of the defroster now. The heat, air conditioning, and defrosting work well, and I can’t direct air out of the dashboard vents or toward my feet.
Is there a cheap solution to this? Thank you. –Tom
Dear Tom: 2002 Saturn L200? I don’t think there’s a really cheap solution, Tom, unless you want to fashion a wind deflector out of cardboard and tape it to the dashboard.
There appears to be something wrong with your mixing door.
A blend door is a movable cover that directs air to the various vents inside your car. It is controlled by an actuator, which is most likely what failed.
The truth is, if your blend door is malfunctioning, having it malfunction in defrost mode is what you want. If it’s blowing on your feet or in your face, you won’t have defroster, so there will be times you can’t see it. We call this “suboptimal driving conditions.”
So, one option is to live with it, as you are doing now. If you are really determined to make your blend door work again, you can ask your mechanic to test the actuator to see if it works. If so, it means that the part itself has failed, and you can try to find a replacement actuator. This will require some luck in an unusual car that is over 20 years old.
The actuator is located on top of the heater box located behind the glove compartment. But replacing it is not easy or cheap. The dashboard may need to be removed. A somewhat cheaper option would be to have the mechanic try to manually adjust the blend door to where you want it and secure it there somehow. This may require removing the actuator.
You will still need to blow some of this air onto your windshield so you can defrost it and defog it. But perhaps your mechanic can permanently adjust the door so that it blows some air through the defroster, and some through the dashboard vents.
That way your forehead won’t get too hot next winter, Tom. good luck.
Ray Magliozzi provides car tips on Car Talk every Saturday. Email him by visiting cartalk.com