Preventing Rollovers in SUVs Jonathan Welsh answers questions –

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Preventing Rollovers in SUVs Jonathan Welsh answers questions –
Mercury Mountaineer


Updated Nov. 4, 2009 12:01 a.m. ET

Q: We own a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer SUV with side airbags but no electronic stability control. We use it to transport our three young children around town, with the occasional highway trip. The car has 80,000 miles and has been well-maintained, but we are concerned about its lack of stability control and are considering purchasing a replacement.

2002 Mercury Mountaineer Ford

A: Stability control, like a fighter pilot’s ejection seat, goes unnoticed until, suddenly, your life depends on it. It can keep drivers from losing control—which, especially in a sport-utility vehicle, could lead to a rollover. Such accidents account for more than a third of occupant fatalities in passenger cars.

Deciding whether to keep or trade in your SUV depends on how you juggle a number of factors, including guilt, anxiety and your budget. If your family finances have room for a new vehicle, and if buying one would aid your peace of mind, you should start shopping. Otherwise you can add driving without stability control to the list of day-to-day risks with which many of us live.

Q: I have owned first German automobiles, then Japanese ones, because I park in a garage, and no American brands have had a tight enough turning radius to make parking easy. Is this still true, or have domestic cars caught up?

John Malmo, Memphis, Tenn.

A: I believe this used to be true. My mother’s 1973 Volkswagen Beetle and ’79 BMW 320i seemed to have an unnaturally tight turning circle compared to the ponderous domestic cars my dad drove. But today a car’s country of origin means little. Chevrolet’s Cobalt is among the tighter turners, with a diameter of 33.5 feet, which beats the compact BMW 128’s 35.1-foot circle. (For the record, it’s hard to beat the two-seat Smart Fortwo’s 28.7 feet.)

Q. I need a wagon or SUV to fit my two greyhounds, take a few trips during the year and move a kid or two back and forth to college. I have to drive it to work about 10 miles each way. We are looking at a Toyota Highlander or a Ford Flex.

With two kids in college, I don’t want to spend a lot.

Mercury Mountaineer

Beverly Townes, Richmond, Va.

A: It may be too big, but I recently saw a 1996 Chevy Suburban with low mileage for about $8,000. Talk about temptation. Just about everything we travel with would fit inside or on the huge roof.

Among new cars, the Flex is a better hauler with a smoother ride than the Highlander. Others worth test-driving include the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9.

Q: I own a 2002 BMW 540i and am moving from sunny South Florida to Connecticut this month. My commute to work will be be on both back roads and highways, but it has been many years since I have driven in snow. I have heard various arguments for both dedicated snow tires and all season tires, but I am worried about fishtailing, given the car’s heavy upfront weight and its rear wheel drive.

Should I go the full snow-tire route, or will all-season tires do the trick?

Alexander Murray, Hollywood, Fla.

A: Snow tires are a must for your car if you want to drive comfortably on snowy, icy roads. For people who drive in snowy regions, all season really means three season. Snow tires make a surprising difference in traction, and are the best way to keep control of rear-wheel-drive cars in winter.

Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer

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