Question: We took our 2009 Honda Accord, with 61,000 miles, to our dealer for a state safety inspection. The technician recommended that we install a timing belt package (timing belt, water pump, accessory drive belts) due to the age of the car, at a cost of $1,000. We declined. We then received a call from the dealership urging us to bring our car back to have this work performed. I thought timing belts were good for 100,000 miles. Should we do it now, or wait?
- M.C., Havertown
Answer: Your car's timing belt should be replaced every 105,000 miles or seven years. Under severe use, it should be replaced at 60,000 miles. Sure, it's expensive, but if the belt breaks, the expense for repairs go up by a magnitude.
Q: My daughter has a Ford Fusion with the fancy brakes that will slow or stop the vehicle without driver input. She says that when the vehicle applies the brakes, the brake lights do not light up. They do work when the driver applies the brakes. Is this normal, or does she have a problem?
- M.K., Woodstock, Ill.
A: It depends on whether the adaptive cruise control is activated. If ACC is on, the system provides autonomous braking and will illuminate the brake lights. The system will not illuminate the brake lights when it uses the transmission to slow the vehicle, though. If the ACC is not activated, the forward collision warning still works, but it does not include autonomous braking. The brake lights will not illuminate until the brake pedal is depressed.
Q: I have a townhouse in Glendale, Ariz., where the temperature can get up to 120 degrees or more in the summer. My wife and I generally rent a car when we go there and park it under our carport. We go there only about three weeks a year, during the cooler months. I'm thinking of buying a new car and thought I might drive my current 2004 Lexus with 89,000 miles out there and leave it there for when we come to town. My wife thinks the car would be under stress sitting there all that time not being used, with the possibility of all the car fluids and parts drying up, thus causing damage. What do you think?
- J.B., Chicago
A: In our opinion, the vehicle will be fine. The fluids will not evaporate. Just prepare the car for extended storage and be sure to use a battery maintainer.
Q: You once asserted that there are no legal aftermarket high-intensity discharge headlights. Are aftermarket LED headlights legal? If so, do they last longer and are they brighter than OEM lights?
- G.B., Crown Point, Ind.
A: We cannot speak for every lamp manufacturer, but many headlight bulbs can be replaced with LED bulbs. We like them. Not only is the color temperature often higher, but LEDs also last much, much longer than halogen bulbs. Philips was the first to market street-legal exterior LEDs as a direct replacement for exterior incandescent bulbs. There are others. If the package states that the bulbs are SAE-approved or DOT-certified, you're safe.