Latest Reader Questions (Sept. 30, 2017)

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Here are the latest reader questions, along with my replies:

David asks: How can I get my hands on a “banned” VW diesel? Is the VW a maintenance headache to maintain like removing the turbo of my ’96 F-350 w/ 7.3 or doing anything with the fuel heat/filtration system?

My reply: VW was forced to stop selling TDI-powered vehicles but it is perfectly legal to buy them. This means you can’t buy one of the banned cars from a VW dealership but you can buy one on the private market, from a private seller. This is actually preferable – because the privately-owned VW will (hopefully) not have been “fixed” while any TDI-powered VW eventually sold (if they ever do) through a dealership will have been “fixed.”

As far as maintenance: I asked my friend – who owns a shop and services these cars regularly – whether he has encountered or knows of any unusual service/maintenance issues with VW diesels and he says no. Many of the “affected” VWs actually have fewer such issues because they do not have urea injection. One of the “fixes” to the “affected” models is to graft on a urea-injection system.

These are great cars. I would not hesitate to buy one myself.

Stephen asks: I am looking to buy a new car soon, the Kia Niro, 2016-2018 Prius, and the 2018 Camry four cylinder and Hybrid are my top picks. The Kia dealership near me has a free tires for life deal, is that too good to be true? Also what do you recommend for car warranty? I’m hopping to get a certified used car to help reduce the price.

My Reply: Kia is trying to jump-start sales of the Niro – a very interesting car which very few people even know about (my review is here, if interested). I doubt the free tires for life offer is other than legitimate, but read the fine print. They are putting this on the table for the same reason as their superior (vs. Toyota) warranty coverage; it’s an inducement to get you to consider their vehicle vs. the competitions’ stuff. Even if you buy a used Kia, a large portion of the factory coverage will still be in force – and is fully transferable to you. I like Toyota vehicles and they are generally excellent but their warranty coverage (3 years, 36,000 miles) is meager in comparison with Kia’s.

Rick asks: I recently visited Seoul, Korea, and was astounded by the clean air in a city of 20 million people.  I lived there 40 years ago, and the pollution then was so bad that visibility was occasionally limited to 10’s of meters.  They apparently now prohibit gas powered engines, and have replaced them with LPG fueled engines.  Only water and H2O come out the tailpipe. Given the enormous amounts of LPG produced as a byproduct of fracking, why aren’t we using LPG cars?

My reply: I wrote about this at length, here. The short answer? Because it works. Because it’s efficient and makes sense. And we can’t have that!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Even the VX diesels with urea aren’t really a problem. I have a gen 2 with a urea tank. Other than the occasional urea tank needing to be topped off (usually there is enough to go between major service intervals), the only thing I’ve had a problem with is that they put a heater in the tank and if it goes, like mine did, the urea will freeze. Total tank replacement. Kinda expensive. VX is now covering this under warranty.

    Anyway, I didn’t want to get my gen 2 car “fixed”. It’s basically a SW update, but you don’t get any settlement money if you don’t get the car fixed, so…..your decision may vary.

    In terms of MPG change, I’m not seeing much, if any, significant change in mileage. I had the car ‘fixed’ two weeks ago, so time may tell, but I’m still in the high 30s to 40 mpg. If I loose some mpg, the settlement cash is enough to offset the add’l fuel cost for many years.


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