Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing picks his favorite low-priced SUVs for a listener

Now's the time to buy.

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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.

Daphne writes: I heard you mention last week that new car deals are terrific right now. I am in the market for a new compact hatchback or SUV for commuting 60 miles a day in traffic. Since you always say there are no bad cars on the market these days, what would you choose if you had a budget of $20,000?

Mike Herzing: Indeed, new car deals with zero percent financing, rebates, and even deferred payments have been announced by several dealerships. My first pick would be the Hyundai Kona (priced from $20,300) followed by the Jeep Renegade, (priced from $22,375) and the Mazda CX30 (priced from $21,300).

My next choices would be the Nissan Kicks (from $18,870) and, finally, the Hyundai Venue (from $17,350). These prices are list prices. It's important to remember that dealerships are in the business of making deals. Also, to curb the spread of COVID-19, many dealers are selling cars without physical contact with the customer. This service includes delivering your new vehicle free of charge.

Les writes: I just bought a 2020 Wrangler and love it! But when should I change the oil? I have heard people saying 3,000 miles and also those saying 7,000. I live in Dacula, Georgia, outside of Atlanta and my mileage is mostly highway and some off-roading.

MH: If it were mine, I would change the oil at 5,000 miles and use at least a synthetic blend oil. Using a full synthetic would be even better. You'll also want to take that opportunity to rotate the tires at the same time.

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler owner's manual says to change your oil every 3,500-4,000 miles and no less than once every 12 months. The change oil message will illuminate when it's been 3,500 miles since your last oil change.

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

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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.

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.

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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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