Q: We have a 2008 Volkswagen Touareg we purchased used from a dealer with 40,000 miles on it. Now we have 80,000 miles and have dealt with many small problems, none of which the dealer could solve. Last month our horn went out, and we were told it will cost $600 to replace the high and low horns. Not that the horns cost so much, but because the front end of the car has to be removed to do it. I don't feel we should have to pay for VW's decision to place the horns where nobody can get to them. Also, whose horn wears out at 80,000 miles? I was considering writing to Volkswagen but thought I would run it by you first. It is indeed dangerous to drive without a horn?
— K.M., Olympia Fields
A: Horns generally last the life of the vehicle, and probably beyond. Maybe that's why VW stuck them there. We would consider installing a nice pair of chrome air horns mounted on the roof. But if you don't want your SUV resembling a semi, have a shop install new horns in a more convenient location than the originals. But ask them to check the horn relay first. That may be all you need.
Q: I have used One Grand paste cleaner to get hard water spots off glass. This may help your reader who had hydrofluoric acid stains on his windshield from the detailer.
— J.Q., Chicago
A: We are not familiar with this product, but it may be similar to other glass polishes that contain cerium oxide. In the hands of an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer, such products can lead to more harm than good by causing dullness or wavy areas in the glass. A smart option is to contact a professional auto glass shop where the techs have the proper tools and training.
Q: I follow the regular maintenance schedule on my 2008 Nissan Frontier with 49,000 miles on it. While at my dealer for an oil change, they suggested a brake fluid flush and refill. I have never done that on any vehicle I owned. I turned it down for now. Is this something I should do with the ABS system with this low mileage?
— R.D., Carol Stream
A: Crud in the brake hydraulics can mess up the anti-lock brake system (ABS), particularly the modulator. Repairs can be expensive. Yet, it is not necessary to flush and fill the brake fluid too often. The professional approach is to test the fluid for signs of copper, which indicates a need to change the fluid. A pro will use special test strips for diagnosis.
Q: I have a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder and the rear trunk door will not stay up in the winter. It is really heavy, and I have to be extra careful when I load and unload groceries. I tried going back to the dealer, and they say it is not covered by Nissan.
— J.C., Chicago
A: Nitrogen-charged gas struts support the lid. Eventually, their seals get tired and some of the pressurized nitrogen leaks. The struts are inexpensive to replace, and most aftermarket struts come with a lifetime warranty.