Questions and answers from the ‘Car Doctor’ – The Saratogian
Q. My question pertains to reputable resources for aftermarket parts, specifically headlight housings. I have a 2002 Honda Civic LX. Being 20 years old, the plastic headlight housings have become faded/clouded, which diminishes headlight power. I understand the do-it-yourself cleaning kits only provide short-term improvement. I understand some body shops wet sand the lenses and apply clear coat. However, I saw an example and it only provided mediocre improvement at best. A body shop suggested to me to use aftermarket housings as the only reasonable cost-effective solution. Can you suggest reputable companies that provide reasonable quality aftermarket parts for this purpose?
A. You are certainly correct, AAA studies have shown that clouded headlights can reduce light output be up to 90 percent. The DIY and professional restoration can work out well, but like most anything it really depends on the time and effort you put into it that determines the end result. Regarding aftermarket replacement parts, this is also a very cost-effective method to restore the headlights. When shopping for headlight assemblies, look for headlights that are CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) certified. This nonprofit organization oversee the quality of automotive body parts. You can find CAPA certified headlight assemblies at many online parts stores such as CariD, RockAuto and Carparts.com.
Q. Years ago, I had a Toyota Matrix – great car. The only thing that would happen once or twice a year the check engine light would come on. First time it happened, I panicked and ran in to the dealer, which tried to tell me I needed a $1500 emissions system overhaul. Seemed odd as the car wasn’t old – I did quick research, found out that tightening the gas cap might do the trick – sure enough it did. The light went off after about 50 miles. My brother still drives that Matrix, close to 200k miles now and has never had another problem. Fast forward to today. My 2013 Prius IV has about 85k miles. Last year the Check Engine light came on. Based on my prior experience with the Matrix I tightened the gas cap and again the light went out after about 25 to 30 miles. A couple of months ago it happened twice, so I bought a brand-new gas cap from Toyota thinking maybe the old one was just shot since the car is from 2013. However, the last couple of weeks even with the new gas cap I’m getting the same pattern. Light goes on, tighten cap, light goes out. Frankly, I’m leery of the dealer trying to sell me a solution I don’t need – but I don’t want to foolishly damage my engine. Should I try another cap? Bring the car in?
A. You should bring the car to the dealer or a good independent repair shop. Very common with Toyota products is a minor leak develops with the evaporative emissions system which also includes the gas cap. The car will run fine and even the fuel economy may have not changed, but your car is polluting the air. A simple test will reveal a fault code, then some additional testing will determine which part has failed.
Q. I read your column and listen to your radio program. What is the name of the company you had on earlier this year that made car covers? I’m looking for a quality cover for my new to me Ford Mustang.
A. I have two car covers that I use. One is by Empire covers (http://empirecovers.com and it does a great job of protecting the …….