Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing sets the record straight on radial tire pull

Beware of tracking to the left or right.

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On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Shawna writes: I can't afford a new SUV, but my old one is on its last legs. I heard you talk about lease returns being much cheaper. But aren't lease or rental cars trashed? I don't want something that has led a hard life. Do some cars hold their value more than others?

Mike Herzing: That's a great question. It's common knowledge that a vehicle loses value as soon as you drive it home from the dealership. Most vehicles lose 10-15 percent of their value the first year, and 10 percent (on average) each year thereafter. So if you buy a vehicle coming off of a lease, much of that depreciation has been paid. Also, most lease return vehicles are two to three years old and usually have less than 36,000 miles. That means that they should be covered by the original factory warranty and may be eligible for a certified pre-owned (CPO). warranty, which provides the best coverage for the best value.

There are several vehicles that are known to have higher than normal residual value, and two are the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota Tacoma. Sometimes it is a better value to buy them new and drive them for several years. In my opinion, the best value is to buy a good vehicle and keep it as long as you can.

Landon writes: I have a 2016 BMW that seems to want to track to the right. The tires have been balanced and computer aligned twice. The car has 54,000 miles, and the tires only have 3,000 miles on them. What else could it be?

MH: Sometimes a tire (or tires) can experience what is called a "radial tire pull." This is a manufacturing defect that isn't apparent until driving on it. Have your shop switch the tires from right to left and see if the pull changes directions. If it does then have them perform a road force variation (RFV) test to see which tire is the problem.

Johnathan writes: I am looking at buying a truck with only 21,000 miles. The seller says that the truck has been salvaged and rebuilt. Is that why it seems like a great deal? I am assuming it is the hail damage on the entire truck that caused it — it has little dents all over it. What are the problems with buying a rebuilt truck? And what is the difference between a salvage car and a rebuilt car?

MH: What you have found is a vehicle that has been previously damaged to a point that the insurance company has declared it a total loss. The seller you found most likely purchased it at auction with a salvage title. After repairs are made, the owner or dealership must have the car inspected by the state and show proof that repairs were done before a rebuilt title can be issued. Was the hail damage the only problem? You never really know. Also, because of liability, many insurance companies will not fully insure a rebuilt vehicle. Yes, the price will be considerably lower than a non-rebuilt vehicle, but is it really worth it?

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

There's an easier way to repair hail damage

Photo by djedzura/Getty Images

On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Astrid writes: I have a 2016 Ford Explorer that has hail damage from a recent storm. My Jeep was parked next to it and has no damage. Why is this? Is the metal thinner? What is the best way to have this fixed?

Mike Herzing: The race for better fuel economy had caused car companies to make vehicles as light as possible. Your Explorer has an aluminum hood and other panels to save weight. Unfortunately, aluminum dents easily. Luckily, there is a process called paintless dent repair (PDR) that would work for you. PDR services employ body men with specialized tools and training that allow them to massage out the dents. It is the perfect repair for this type of damage. Best of all, your hood doesn't need to be re-painted. It's also cheaper, so the insurance companies love it.

Bill writes: I want to buy a new SUV, but I remember my father saying to wait a year and let the bugs get worked out. What are the pros and cons of buying a new model?

MH: That used to be the rule, but nowadays, with computer-generated simulations and a lot of road testing, most production and design problems are avoided. However, I still recommend waiting a couple of months to allow the early adopters to buy first. Once the newness wears off — and inventory builds — dealers will be ready to make some deals.

George writes: I have a 2009 Kia Sorento that has been running a little hotter than usual and is losing antifreeze. My shop tells me it has a leaking water pump. Since it has the original hoses, should I replace them even though they aren't leaking?

MH: Since you are already replacing the pump, the labor cost is almost nothing to go ahead and replace the hoses. If you plan to keep the vehicle, I recommend you use OEM parts. The price of the original parts is just a little more than aftermarket parts, and the quality is better. Hey, they lasted 11 years, didn't they?

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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Stay cool this summer.

Photo by Julis Yanti Binti Mohd/Getty Images

Just like humans, cars don't like extreme heat or extreme cold. Since summer is upon us, let's talk about the maintenance you can be doing to avoid a costly breakdown.

Cooling system: One of the most common primary cause of summer breakdowns is overheating caused by a cooling system malfunction. A cooling system that isn't running at peak efficiency cannot keep the engine at the correct operating temperature. Get it flushed every 30,000 miles to ensure everything is moving smoothly.

A note for do-it-yourselfers: The most common coolant type contains ethylene glycol, which according to the EPA is toxic to humans and animals. Because of this it must be disposed of properly, so a flush might be something you should let a professional perform for you. When performing a coolant flush, the technician should also check the condition of the belts, hoses, engine fan, and thermostat. Any of these could cause a problem, so they should be inspected by a trained professional.

Oil: We all know that oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and it also provides cooling for your engine so don't overlook this important element. Replacing the oil at the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) suggested intervals is essential. It is just as important to use the oil weight and grade specified by your OEM (check your owner's manual for the requirements).

Air conditioning: Your car's A/C keeps you cool, but if it's not clean it can cause engine overheating. The A/C condenser is located right in front of the radiator and a dirty condenser can block airflow to it. As a result of emission requirements, newer engines have higher operating temperatures than engines built, say, 20 years ago. Because of this, their cooling systems must be operating at peak performance to provide the durability we have come to expect.

Overall, maintenance is the keyword to remember here. By doing a little upkeep now, your car should be running happily into the fall.

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new Let's Talk Wheels podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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