How can I make driving my older car more comfortable?

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AAA Northeast Auto Doctor John Paul answers a question from a reader who is considering new tires to improve the handling of his 2010 car.

Car Doctor – Hyundai Elantra

The car doctor answers a question about how to improve the handling of an older car. Hyundai

Q I own a 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring with 80,850 miles. It’s a tough ride for an old man like me. Would higher profile tires improve my driving comfort? My car tires are 195/65 on 15 inch rims.

A The low-profile tires are one of the reasons your car feels stiff and unsteady, but this model also features stiffer touring suspension. You might get a slightly better ride by swapping out the wheels and tires, but I don’t think it’s worth the extra effort. Additionally, by the age of 13 the suspension has probably started to sag, making the ride even harsher. If it was my car I would just live with it.

Q I just read an article about clogging tires and now I’m confused. I read that you only recommend a connector and patch combo. Is it still like that?

A The best practice for repairing a tire is to remove it from the rim, inspect the tire for damage, and then use a plug and patch combination. The patch seals the tire, the plug part prevents water from entering the tire. Did I clog a tyre? Yes, in an emergency (in fact I keep tire plug kits in my emergency kits in my cars). As soon as I’m back on the road I go to a good tire shop and have the tire checked and properly repaired.

Q I regularly drove on I-95 between New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the evening hours. It has become increasingly dangerous as vehicles drive in the dark of night without their headlights and taillights on. How can we as a country mandate that vehicle manufacturers must always ensure that all exterior lights are turned on whenever a vehicle is turned on?

A At AAA, for safety reasons, we recommend always having your lights on as the vehicle is much more visible. Although automatic headlights are not mandatory, they are installed in many new cars today. I test and rate about 50 cars a year and can’t think of a vehicle that doesn’t have an auto headlight setting. Even my Hyundai 2018 has automatic headlight adjustment. My wife’s VW has daytime running lights and that’s a problem because at night it seems like the lights are on but the taillights aren’t on. But the car is eight years old. Since the average car on the road today is 12 years old, it will be many years before all cars have automatic headlights. So at this point we are left with education and laws requiring lights to be on during inclement weather and after sunset.

Q Should I have a wheel alignment done after my mechanic installed two new front struts on my 2002 Honda Accord?

A In my opinion, anytime a suspension part is replaced, the wheel alignment should be checked. Even carefully marking the position of the old parts and fitting the new parts does not guarantee that the wheel alignment will not change.

Q I bought a 2012 Nissan Leaf in Massachusetts from a used car dealership for $7,000 and live in Rhode Island. It doesn’t hold a charge and will only charge up to 64 miles if left on the charger for 24 hours. I took it to my local Nissan dealership and they said the large battery needed replacing for $13,000. The store I bought it from tells me it’s not a lemon because the check engine light isn’t on and changing the battery is just a suggestion.

A Unfortunately, a range of 60 to 70 miles is pretty typical for a 10 year old Leaf. Range was only 90 miles new (although Nissan stated 100 miles). As all rechargeable batteries age, including phones and power tools, the capacity of the batteries decreases. A 110 volt charge will give you a range of around four miles per hour and should be fully charged overnight. Without knowing more about your car, this area sounds normal from your description. As an aside we have a Nissan Leaf at AAA for training purposes and the range is around 60-70 miles, slightly less in wintry weather.

John Paul is the auto doctor of the AAA Northeast. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE-certified master technician. Email your Car Doctor question to [email protected]. Listen to the Car Doctor Podcast

Tom Vazquez

Tom Vazquez is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Tom Vazquez joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Tom Vazquez by emailing

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