The Car Doc on leasing vs. buying for elderly drivers, oversize tires and more

John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,” answers readers’ car-related questions.
John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,” answers readers’ car-related questions.
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Q. My vehicle is 12 years old with a little less than 100,000 miles on it. I am in my late 70s and I’m thinking it would be nice to have a new vehicle. I would like your opinion as to the pros and cons on buying or leasing, particularly at my age.

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A. Leasing has both advantages and disadvantages. When you are leasing you are basically “renting” the car for the length of the lease. One advantage of leasing is that you may end up driving a car that you may have considered outside of your price range. These more expensive cars may have more creature comforts but more importantly have additional safety features that may not be available on lower priced models. Leasing is also best suited to people who drive less than 10,000 miles per year. One caveat is that if the car is damaged beyond what is normal wear and tear you will need to have the car repaired prior to the end of the lease or be financially responsible for any damage. At the end of the lease you have a couple of good choices. You can walk away, lease a new vehicle or buy the car you have been leasing (this can be a popular option and sometimes a good deal).

Q. I have a 2010 Nissan Sentra and recently when I have come to a complete stop the car dies. This has a happened a couple of times in the last three months. I was just wondering what it could be.

A. Since the items happens so infrequently this will be a bit harder to diagnose. At this point I would try to rule out a fuel problem. As a first step try to run the fuel level as low as possible and refill the tank with a high quality fuel. I would do this for a couple of tanks. Other possibilities are a faulty mass-air flow sensor and a problem with the throttle position switch.

Q. My mother has a Nissan Maxima that is 20 years old, has very low mileage and is in good condition, it does have a small bit of rust and needs a new muffler. She is 85 years old and does not drive any more. What can we do with her car?

A. At this point all you can do it try to sell it. Then establish a price use a price guide such as Once you have an idea of what your car is worth then compare your car with similar models selling on popular websites like and This way you can determine a realistic price for your car.

Q. I’m hoping you can help us. We have a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with oversized tires. The spare tire mount is factory with the 2 separate hinges on the tail gate. The spare tire bangs when on bumpy roads. We’ve tried a spare tire spacer (suggested by the dealership), didn’t work. We tried heavy duty larger bolts to attach the tire to the mount, didn’t work. Any ideas how to stop the banging? Everything seems to be tight and well attached. We don’t want to lose the spare in traffic one day.

A. It is the oversize tires that are the problem. There are aftermarket oversized rubber spacers that help quiet the banging but the permanent fix may be a replacement spare tire holder. Looking online there are heavy duty holders that look more robust and don’t look like they will shake and bang over bumps.

Q. Any thoughts on the new Honda Ridgeline. I need a truck from time to time for light hauling and occasional trips to the home improvement store. I have two questions how does it drive and what about the plastic cargo bed?

A. The Honda Ridgeline drive like a Honda Pilot, decent ride and handling with all the creature comforts of any premium SUV. I like many of the features such as the dual opening tailgate and large waterproof trunk. As for the cargo bed, I don’t see any issues, it is a heavy composite and looks very rugged and should easily stand up to years of use.