Antelope Valley Press (Sunday)

Don’t ruin trip by squeezing every last mile from Toyota

- BY RAY MAGLIOZZI Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.

Dear Car Talk: Get ready for this! I’m going to take my 92-year-old dad on a six-week, gazillion mile trek from one side of the country to the other, then back again, with many stops along the way.

While that might sound exciting, the real thrill is that we plan to make this journey in my fabulously maintained 2005 Toyota Corolla with 331,000 miles on it. OK, OK, I can already hear your groans, so let me elaborate.

Before leaving, I’ll tuck the vehicle’s title in the glove box, in the unlikely event of a fatal, mechanical issue. If necessary, I’ll trade the title for a tow and call it even. Then, I’d head to the closest dealership and buy a new car.

I was thinking — just thinking, mind you — of checking out a few vehicles before the big adventure, so I’d know exactly what to buy on the outside chance I needed another vehicle somewhere along the way.

Oh, I should add that I love my dad! — Barry

Barry, I understand that it’s important to you to get every last mile out of your car. But at 331,000, you’ve come darned close enough. Declare victory and put it on Craigslist.

Newer cars — even small cars — are more comfortabl­e, roomier and quieter than ever. They also ride and handle better. Your air conditioni­ng will work well, and you might even have heated and cooled seats.

Most importantl­y, you guys will have all of the modern-day safety equipment. There’s been a revolution in automotive safety since you bought your Corolla.

You’ll get more sophistica­ted airbags, seatbelt pretension­ers, precollisi­on warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning and even adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front of you. That’s going to come in handy when you’re driving 7,500 miles in six weeks. And you should get all of that stuff, because it’ll help keep you safe for the next 300,000 miles.

Finally, whatever you do,

I was going to suggest you remember to stop frequently, not just for the car, but for your own sanity. But then I remembered you’ll have your 92-yearold dad in the car, and he’ll have to pee every half hour, so that won’t be a problem.

Have a wonderful trip, Barry. * * *

Dear Car Talk: The left CV boot on my 2007 Honda Ridgeline is leaking. There’s a 3-inch-diameter spot of grease on the garage floor. There’s no noise coming from the front axle and no difference in the performanc­e.

A shop quoted $870 to replace both boots and axles, and said they would not do boots only. The dealer quoted $400 per side to replace the boots and axles, $300 per side boots only. The service adviser also indicated that there would be some labor savings for doing both at the same time.

I made an appointmen­t with the dealer. On arrival, the same service adviser told me it would be $1,066 + tax and fees = $1,200. I backed out of the deal, even after speaking to the general manager and receiving a lowered price of $1,000.

The truck is a spare vehicle used for only 4,000 miles per year. Is it OK to drive for a while? I would appreciate your comments. — Bill

I wouldn’t drive it for too long, Bill. The CV boot covers the CV joint, which is part of the axle. And if you keep driving it without proper lubricatio­n, you will ruin the axle.

But given how little you drive this Ridgeline, I would fix only what’s actually broken right now. While it’s fairly common to replace the axle along with a torn boot, it’s not necessary. The reason we do it is because the extra labor involved in replacing the axle, once you have the boot off, is trivial. And for people who drive 15,000 miles a year, it makes sense to preemptive­ly replace the axle rather than have to duplicate the labor six, 12 or 18 months later. But since you’re driving 4,000 miles a year, you might not need an axle for five years. Or ever.

Look around for another shop. Go to www.mechanics files.com, enter your ZIP code and look for a highly recommende­d shop in your area.

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