A necessary repair?, sap removal, jerky sensation

Q. I have a question about my 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid. This is the second Camry Hybrid I have owned. In February I went to the dealer where I purchased the car to have the 50,000-mile check-up and oil change. This type of service usually has taken no more than one hour, but this time took three hours. After a couple of hours, the service guy told me my car needed a special repair. I received an estimate and explanation of what was needed. Here is what they told me. The “sway bar links” and “front boots” were leaking/damaged, and the cost to repair this would be $545. They did say that I might not notice any problem with the car, but that eventually its handling on the road would be affected.  I told them I didn’t have the time, but, I didn’t trust them. I have not had any problems with the car either prior to the service or since. Now it is time to bring the car in for another service. I was wondering if you have any insight into this potential “necessary repair.” I don’t intend to go back to this dealer for service. It seemed to me that they were trying to take advantage of a single, older female who, they assumed, is not knowledgeable about cars.

A. At this point, I would certainly get a second opinion with another dealer or independent repair shop. Both items they mentioned are easy to see and verify if the repairs are necessary. Sway bar bushing (rubber) will crack with age and when completely worn out will affect the vehicle handling to a limited extent. The front boots, I assume are the bellows style boot for the steering system. These too are rubber and can crack as they age. In both cases, it seems a bit unusual that these items would have failed at only four years of age.

Q. My car had tree sap all over the hood and my son decided to clean the sap off with gasoline. The gas did get the sap off but what did it do to the paint?

A. After washing the car with car soap and water, I would use a light-duty polishing compound and then a good quality wax. In this case I would use a carnauba-based wax that will help “nourish” the paint and bring depth back to the finish. Once the paint looks better buy some bug/tar/sap remover or depending on the trees a car cover.

Q. I recently purchased a low-mileage 2014 Buick with a six-engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. This car looks brand new and I’m pretty sure no one other than the driver has been in the car. The car runs well, although I can feel a slight jerky sensation in the 20 to 45 mph range. This isn’t noticeable when I’m accelerating but when I am on back roads it is quite noticeable. He is the real problem; this sensation is very annoying to my wife. I went back to the dealer who pronounced this as normal. My other concern is that even though this car has low mileage, I’m the third owner. Do you think I just have to get used to it or is there something that can be done to minimize the jerky feel? Maybe the first two owners weren’t happy with the car and traded it?

A. General Motors issued a technical service bulletin that describes a clunk noise similar to your car. Here is the complicated explanation of why this happens. The reason is that during a 2-3 upshift, the 2-4 band is released, and the 3-4 clutch is applied. The timing of this shift can cause a momentary torque reversal of the output shaft which results in a clunk noise. This same torque reversal can also occur on a 3-2 downshift when the 3-4 clutch is released, and the 2-4 band applied. Long story short; General Motors considers this normal and no service is necessary. At this point, it looks like you and your wife are going to have to get used to the sensation.

John Paul is AAA’s Car Doctor. He is an automotive expert who has been writing and talking about cars for more than 30 years. He also hosts the Car Doctor radio program on WROL radio in Boston. Email John at jpaul [at] aaanortheast.com.

Search used cars for sale and find the best deals near you at iSeeCars.com.
To get a FREE iSeeCars VIN Report for a car, click here.