Q: We live in the
Midwest, where potholes and bumpy roads are common. Which tire/wheel
combination gives the smoothest ride? Which is less prone to damage?
Here are the combinations available on the Volvo XC40 we want:
P235/55HR18, P235/50HR19, P235/45HR20.
— J.B., Iowa City,
A: The lower the
tire’s profile, the rougher it rides. The number after the slash
is the aspect ratio denoting the profile. The P235/55HR18 has an
aspect ratio of 55. In other words, the height of the tire is 55
percent the tire’s width (the 235). The taller the sidewall and
the higher the aspect ratio, the softer the ride. Low profile tires
on big rims are more prone to damage.
Q. We need some
guidance on the purchase of a car. We are in our early 80s, and my
husband drives a 2006 Maxima and I drive a 2014 Maxima. We take the
AARP Senior Safe driving courses every three years, and are
committed to driving safely as long possible. I love my 2014 Maxima
and thought it would be the last car I would ever buy. The last
Senior Safe driving course emphasized the safety features on newer
cars, like super cruise control, lane change warnings, automatic
braking, etc., none of which we have. Would you recommend the
features you think would be useful for older drivers, and even which
manufacturer has these features?
A: We don’t have
the expertise to suggest a particular make or model. There are
plenty of other sources such as Consumer Reports that may be
helpful. Also visit mycardoeswhat.org to understand each function.
If you are excellent drivers, your Nissan Maximas have many more
miles left in them. But if you are concerned about your abilities,
new cars have lots of safety features that are well worth trading up
to. CR rates new cars by advanced safety features, including
automatic emergency braking, forward collision control, blind spot
warning, rear cross-traffic warning and lane-keeping assist.
Q: I have owned,
since new, a 2008 Toyota V-6, which is driven six months of the year
in Florida. It has 50,000 miles on it and has been serviced
according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. I recently had an
oil change and tire rotation at a dealer’s garage. I could tell by
the expression on the service adviser that I was in trouble! The
list was long, starting out with “you have a weeping water pump”
that needs immediate repair. And as long as we are replacing the
pump, the timing chain must be replaced. I was told that if the
timing chain broke, it could destroy the engine. I know this is true
but pointed out my owner’s manual says the chain should be
replaced at 90,000 miles. I believe this is a metal chain, so it
should last, right?
— P.C., Minneapolis
A: A tiny bit of
weeping at the water pump vent hole is not uncommon. If it becomes
worse, the seal is wearing out and the pump should, indeed, be
replaced. Until then, we suggest you add a cooling system leak-stop
such as Bar’s Leaks. Timing chains are very durable and, unlike
belts, usually do not have a replacement schedule.