Timing everything in changing hybrid battery

DEAR DOCTOR: I own a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid with 100,000 miles on it. It runs fine, but how long can I expect the hybrid batteries to last? Do they ever need to be replaced? If so, is it worth the cost to replace them? Is there a way to tell if the hybrid batteries need replacement before they die?

— Elizabeth

DEAR ELIZABETH: There is no telling how long they will last: Hybrid battery lifespan can be eight years or longer, and run to over 200,000 miles. When the battery is weak, it will set a trouble fault code. The cost of replacement on this car is around $3,500. Beware that there are some companies that claim they can rebuild the hybrid battery by replacing the damaged cell. I do not recommend this procedure.

DEAR DOCTOR: The display screen on my 2011 Hyundai is not bright and hinders me from seeing clearly the radio stations, the maps, but most of all, the backup camera. The dealer put in new codes and it was bright, but after driving just five minutes, it turned dull gray again. What can be the problem? Can this be fixed?

— Patricia

DEAR PATRICIA: Check the left upper corner of the radio to see if there is a small reset pinhole. Then turn the radio on, and use a paper clip to push the reset button in the pinhole to see if this takes care of the problem. If not, your next step is a trip to the local radio shop for their advice. A used Hyundai radio is an option, or my suggestion would be to locate a new aftermarket radio. The display lighting from the new radio will also offer more modern technology, along with a warranty.

DEAR DOCTOR: We live in an area of densely populated woods filled with critters, and our vehicles are having problems with mice taking up residence inside of them. They build messy, smelly nests in the cabin air filters of our Toyota Tacoma and Subaru Forester. After clearing out the nests I’ve tried many remedies, such as peppermint oil, dryer sheets, etc., but within weeks they’re at it again. We hope you can offer us a solution to this problem?

— Charles

DEAR CHARLES: Many repellant chemicals are available on the market. You can also check out the local RV store to see what they sell to the campers. You can also try an adhesive strip that looks like duct tape to trap them.

DEAR DOCTOR: I’m in market for a new vehicle. I have been very loyal to Nissan and have had a 2002 and 2011 Altima, which I loved because the style was so different. Now it just looks like any other sedan, nothing special. I also think that if you took the identification off of most small SUVs you wouldn’t know the difference between them — they are all so similar. Nothing really strikes me. I like the Subaru Outback and some of the Jeeps. But not being able to narrow down what I am looking for, I’m hoping you can give me some direction. What good-looking vehicles with great fuel economy, priced under $27,000, should I put on my shopping list?

— Helene

DEAR HELENE: The good news is the new 2019 Altima has all-wheel drive with the base four-cylinder engine, and it is also a redesigned vehicle with a whole lot of technology. The new Jeeps have been updated and the Wrangler is one of my favorites; it’s a fun SUV both on and off the road. The Wrangler also has very good resale value.

DEAR DOCTOR: I have a 2015 Honda Accord. Is it possible to get the technology that shuts the engine off when I’m stopped or idling at a traffic signal so I can save on fuel?

— Hugh

DEAR HUGH: I cannot advise on any plug-in or wire tampering of the system. You can check Honda forums for other owners in the group that may have an answer. There are however a few companies that offer start / stop cancellation computer download programming.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

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