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For Cross-Country Vacation Drive On Non-Aggressive Tread Tires

By Junior Damato, June 5th, 2010

strong>Dear Doctor: My wife and I are driving this summer from New York to California in a 2007 Ford Taurus. I want to buy four new tires that are good quality replacements, offering a smooth, safe ride at highway speeds. What do you suggest? William

strong>Dear William: There are many tire brands on the market with different profiles, styles and tread design patterns. I suggest a non-aggressive tread tire design. The ContiProContact by Continental Tires is a good choice and is not overpriced. I have sold many with great results. You can also look on the Tire Rack web site ( for owner feedback on tires.

strong>Dear Doctor: We own a 2005 Toyota Camry V-6 automatic with just 17,000 miles. On several different occasions I've had trouble removing the key from the ignition after parking the car in a parking lot. I have to bang and move the steering wheel to remove the key. What is causing the key release trouble? Walter

strong>Dear Walter: Sometimes when there is pressure from the power steering rack unit and the engine is shut off the pressure goes up the steering shaft and into the ignition safety lock assembly. The pressure can be so great that some people cannot move the ignition switch or steering wheel to turn the key. The solution: before you shut off the engine, remove your hands from the steering wheel so that it can be left in a free, at-ease position.

strong>Dear Doctor: I purchased a 2007 Nissan Altima with the 2.5L four-cylinder engine. It is very low-mileage with just 9,400 miles on it. There seems to be a vibration in the steering wheel each time I accelerate in slow traffic. The dealer said the car is fine. What do you suggest? Solia

strong>Dear Solia: Go back to the dealership and test-drive a model that is just like yours. Just remember that some four-cylinder cars, such as yours, do have a small amount of vibration at lower engine speed. This is a normal condition that sometimes seems worse with the air conditioning or defroster running. I've also seen loose fan belts, weak engine and exhaust mounts as the cause of vibration.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2010 Ford Escape Limited 3.0L V-6 with a six-speed automatic. When I accelerate from a stop there is a noise that sounds like a soda bottle opening. I went to the dealer and they showed me Technical Service Bulletin #9-25-03, referring to the noise and said this is a normal condition. Do you have any ideas? Bob

strong>Dear Bob: Ford has shown you that there is a TSB on this and they agree with the sound you are hearing. However, at this time consider it normal. It is not a safety concern. If Ford comes up with anything regarding this TSB they will contact you.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am interested in a 2010 BMW 323xi. I remember the older 3 Series seemed a lot smaller than the 2010 models. What are your thoughts on the car? Sally

strong>Dear Sally: The size of the 2010 BMW 323xi is like an older 5 Series and I think the 2010 has grown up in a very good way. The car seats four comfortably, has all-wheel-drive for safety, plenty of six-cylinder power with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters. There are no confusing, fussy controls for climate or audio. The engineers at BMW took a lot of time to fine tune this car.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am a longtime avid reader of your column, but I strongly disagree with your opinion about letting a car warm up for several minutes on cold mornings. I live in the Northeast and on cold mornings I think it is best to drive the car slowly until the entire drivetrain is warmed up. Art

strong>Dear Art: We cannot always agree on all matters in life, however I do sincerely appreciate that you've been reading my column for many years. It is perfectly fine to drive slowly on cold mornings until the engine warms up. There are others however, who will rely on the remote car start key fob (where permitted) to warm the engine and car interior on very cold mornings.

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