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

 
 

Taillights that don't work can be a sign of a larger issue.

Photo by 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.

Trevor writes: I have a 2008 GMC Yukon that has a taillight out. I replaced the bulb, and it didn't help. The fuses are ok. What is the next step?

Mike Herzing: Your Yukon, like many newer vehicles, has a taillight circuit board that the bulbs and wiring harness plug into. Vibration, moisture, and age sometimes cause the circuit board to fail. If you replace a brake or taillight bulb and it still doesn't work, this is where I would look first. Luckily, they are usually less than $15 and are relatively easy to replace.

Ed writes: I have a 2004 Subaru WRX-STI, and I love it. I am the original owner, and it is in pristine condition. Do you think this is a future classic?

MH: It is absolutely a future classic, so hold onto it. The STI (which stands for Subaru Technica International) models are great to drive. Keeping it stock (no modifications) may add value. If you do make any changes such as wheels or exhaust, keep your stock parts! That is very important to a collector to be all original.

Liam writes: I own a 2010 Chevy Colorado (and I'm in Colorado), which has what my shop calls an "intermittent no start." When it does this, I can go back later (or have it towed in), and it starts wonderfully! The problem is that it runs fine for days or weeks until it does it again. It has been tuned up and also had a new fuel pump put in last year.

MH: While I am not there to diagnose the problem, let me give you my best guess. GM used an anti-theft feature called Passlock for several years. Passlock utilizes a special lock cylinder that stops the engine from getting fuel (and running) until the proper chipped key is detected. Sometimes, the Passlock feature activates without any reason, making you sit and wait out a 10-minute delay. I have many friends that have gone on YouTube and found the exact procedure to bypass the system.

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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Beware of tracking to the left or right.

Photo by darekm101/Getty

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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