The Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe are all very reliable, have good storage and should do well for beach transportation.
Q: I am 92 years old and keep a 2006 Honda Pilot at our beach house for short hauls to the beach. The problem is the vehicle is badly corroded and needs replacing.
Can you suggest one or two similar vehicles that could take its place?
A: I would certainly look at another Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe. All these vehicles are very reliable, have good storage and should do well for beach transportation.
I can only hope that when I'm your age I can still go to the beach.
Q: I'm a short woman (just under 5 feet) and the car market doesn't seem to build vehicles for short-stature drivers unless they are small cars.
For 10 years, I've driven a Honda CR-V that has served me very well. Soon I will be in the market for a new car, and it might be time for a change. I don't need an SUV and have been thinking I should consider a sedan. To meet my needs, a car needs to be good on the highway and in the snow (I make regular trips to Maine) and fuel-efficient.
Do you have ideas for models I should consider?
A: After all of the years of sitting a bit higher in your Honda CR-V and having a better view of the road going to a sedan may be a bit of a challenge. One vehicle that is worth looking at is the Honda HR-V.
During my road test of the HR-V, I found it to be a very capable and comfortable vehicle.
Several of my co-workers — who are similar height to you — have purchased the HR-V and have been very happy with it.
If you are looking for a sedan, the Subaru Legacy, Impreza or the latest Nissan Altima (that's now available with all-wheel-drive) would be a good choice.
Q: Last year we had a nail in the tire of our new car. We put air in the tire and were able to drive to a tire store. They patched it up and said that it was good as new.
We're driving to California from the East Coast in February and I worry that the tire might fail somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Would it be wise to get a new tire, or can we depend on the fix?
A: If the tire was properly repaired using a patch-and-plug-style repair, you should be fine.
Repairing the tire with a plug or just a patch is not an acceptable repair. A plug needs to fill the hole and a patch needs to seal the liner of the tire for a proper permanent repair.
Q: Recently we started parking our 2014 Subaru Forester outside (previously it was in a garage). One morning — after a rain storm — I found a pool of liquid on the floor of the driver's side. There was no evidence of a leak from the door, side window, front window or ceiling window.
Many years ago, my wife had a Chevy Nova that had the same problem on the passenger floor. It was the air conditioning going bad.
I took the Forester to my usual shop and the mechanic was busy, but the owner said it was 100 percent water leak. I think it's the A/C.
Who is right?
A: More than likely it is water leaking into the car from a faulty seal. If the car has a sunroof, that's the first place I would check. The sunroof seal and drains could be faulty, allowing water in to the cabin.
A good repair shop can test to see where water may be coming from. I have seen some shops use ultrasonic testers, smoke machines or just a garden hose.
Some vehicles will get water inside if the drain for the air conditioner becomes blocked with debris. This could have happened with your Nova, or it could have been a faulty heater core that allows coolant to leak into the car.
— John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 30 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email email@example.com and put "Car Doctor" in the subject field. At 8:30 Saturday mornings, tune in to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at wrolradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.