QUESTION: In these tough economic times I'm in the market for a used car and want to support the local (North American) manufacturers.
Is there any make in particular you recommend?
ANSWER: No. First of all, buying a used car puts no money in the pockets of any manufacturer - you have to buy a new car to do that.
Perhaps you would consider a less-expensive new car. There are some awesome deals out there. If you did that, there are any number of vehicles to consider that are made in North America.
As for a North American manufacturer, I assume you mean a company that pays wages to a Canadian or American worker at an assembly plant on this continent. That list would include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Subaru and Suzuki.
All have manufacturing facilities in Canada and/or the United States. Others have plants in Mexico and huge amounts of the parts used to make all of these vehicles come from around the world. It really is an international business these days.
Coolant and warranty
QUESTION: I purchased a base model 2008 Subaru Impreza and have started to use an independent garage to service my vehicle (oil change etc.), rather than a dealership.
The manual states: "Always add genuine Subaru coolant and genuine Subaru cooling system conditioner whenever the coolant is replaced."
Is it necessary for my independent service centre to use Subaru brand coolant in order to retain the warranty?
If so, should I retain proof that is what they used in case a problem does develop?
Also, the dash is not equipped with a dial to show me the engine temperature. I assume that, should trouble develop, I will have to rely on a warning light showing up on the dash.
ANSWER: Yes, your garage should use Subaru coolant and conditioner and provide proof that is what was used.
Subaru has found that some older and less evolved coolants can cause corrosion and subsequent leaks and damage to the heads. The Subaru engine has an aluminum block and aluminum heads, just like many other manufacturers.
Some Subaru owners have experienced damaged heads. Subsequent investigation revealed the coolant had been replaced or diluted with fluids that contained harmful substances. It requires non-amine, non-phosphate, non-silicate antifreeze. While most coolants might fit this description, it is a lot easier and more secure for Subaru to demand a fluid it knows.
For consumers, the benefit is that if an issue or warranty claim arises, it cannot be blamed on an old or unapproved coolant.
I just drove the new 2010 Legacy and noticed the temperature gauge has been replaced by one that encourages economical driving - sort of like a vacuum gauge of old.
I too will miss the temp gauge, as much for the ability to monitor it warming up to operating temperature as for any warning.