Close this search box.

The AAA Car Doctor is here when you can’t ask a mechanic

John Paul

John Paul

ask a mechanic

Having a trusted local shop for car repairs is key, but many routine car issues aren’t worth the time and money to ask a mechanic. John Paul is AAA’s Car Doctor, and he’s here to answer your questions any time. Email him here for a personal response.

ask a mechanic

Q. A recent question made me want to reach out to you. A reader asked how best to deal with a car that will be sitting for six weeks, you said to make sure the battery is charged, the tires properly inflated, and add a gas stabilizer. I will be in Florida next winter for five months if all goes well. What are your recommendations for a car that will sit for that long? It is a 2006 Toyota Camry with 46,000 miles and is very well maintained.

A. Here is what I did with a car that sat for six months: I changed the oil and filter and lubed the door locks, hinges, and just about anything else that moves. Filled the gas tank, added fuel stabilizer, and aired up the tires to the maximum amount on the tire (the only tire you should do this). I also got four pieces of foam construction insulation about an inch thick and put them under each tire (to help prevent flat spots). Put a moisture absorber (damp rid type of product) on an aluminum pie plate to collect moisture and avoid mildew. I hooked up the battery to a Battery Tender (a special charger that maintains the battery. I also cleaned and waxed the car and covered it with a car cover. When I returned, the car looked good (maybe with a little dust) and ran perfectly.

ask a mechanic

Q. I’m referencing your answer regarding the 2014 Honda transmission issue in your column. My Chevy Colorado has the same issue. I contacted my local guy about changing the transmission fluid, as you recommended. He said that, on occasion, it has had a negative effect. Are you aware of this possibility?

A. In older cars, changing the transmission fluid on a vehicle with a lot of varnish buildup could sometimes cause problems. And usually, the owner suspected a problem with the transmission and hoped a fluid change would help. So, it is assumed that the fluid change caused the problem. If this was my truck and it had a transmission “chuggle,” I would change the fluid and add a friction modifier such as Lubeguard or Lucas Transmission Fix

Q. I have a simple question, I have a 2020 BMW X3. My question is should I rotate the tires? I can’t seem to get an answer, pro or con.

A. BMW just states to inspect the tires every 10,000 miles and never mentions a tire rotation. So, in this case, I would say that tire rotation is not necessarily based on the factory maintenance schedule.

ask a mechanic

Q. I’m replacing my Lexus RX 300, which has been a good vehicle. I am thinking about a Mercedes, and the vehicle I am looking at is the GLE 450. What do you think of this vehicle?

A. Like all Mercedes vehicles, it feels solid both on the road and when you close the doors. The technology is impressive, with just about every advanced driver assistance system available. There were a couple of critiques. Some minor functions are difficult to find and use. It took a couple of minutes to find and adjust the lumbar support. Also, the infotainment system can be a little daunting to operate. The seats, once adjusted, were quite comfortable, and the overall ride and handling were perfect for an SUV. I was also pleased to see that this vehicle has a spare tire.

ask a mechanic

Q. Regarding your recent red warning light diagnosis, I had the same warning lights with my 2009 Cadillac CTS. Through the warning code, the dealer diagnosed the problem as a worn wheel bearing which was replaced, and the problem was solved. I wonder if the mechanic ran up the bill to replace the brakes or incorrectly diagnosed the problem.

A. A worn bearing will typically turn on an ABS light, not the red brake warning light. The RED warning light will come with a parking brake or a hydraulic issue.

Share this on your community


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest guides, news, and reviews.

Scroll to Top

Subscribe our newsleter