Q: Our problem is with the windshield wipers on our 2007 Honda Civic. They've recently developed a problem — stopping and starting at different times and quitting any time, sometimes in the middle of the windshield. An Internet search seems to point to a faulty wiper motor. What is your take on this issue? It's very expensive to fix. Why is this not a recall, as it is a huge safety issue? Is the problem the motor, and will there be a recall?
A: While there have been several TSBs — technical service bulletins — from Honda dealing with windshield wiper problems on 2006-07 Civics, no recalls have been issued to date. Honda did recall '03 Accords for a wiper issue caused by water invading the wiper motor. The solution was to replace the motor assembly.
In your case, I can't tell you why no recall was issued. The two standards used by the NHTSA — National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — to determine if a recall is warranted are whether the vehicle or component in question does not meet federal safety standards or whether the issue in question is a safety-related defect. In many cases automakers initiate recalls based on their own findings. In other cases the recall is mandated by the NHTSA.
To fix your wipers, you have three options. The first is to ask your dealer to ask Honda to pay for the repair as a customer goodwill adjustment. By documenting the TSBs covering this issue on your car along with your awareness that Honda has recalled earlier make/model vehicles for the same issue may help encourage the dealer and Honda to help.
You could obviously just pay for the repair at the dealer. According to my ALLDATA database, the culprit is the wiper motor cover plate # P/N 76505-SNA-305, but the dealer may want to replace the complete motor assembly.
Or, you could replace the wiper motor yourself with a new, used or remanufactured unit. I found several online priced between $30 and $100.
Q: My wife and I recently purchased a new 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser. The vehicle uses 0W-20 synthetic and the owner's manual recommends oil and filter changes every 10,000 miles. That makes me a bit nervous. Our family also owns a 1998 Land Cruiser with 233,000 miles and a 2004 Sienna with 190,000 miles. Both were purchased new and have never seen more than 4,200 miles between oil changes. I realize I can continue to do "early" oil changes, but would appreciate learning what you think about the recommended 10,000-mile intervals on our new Toyota.
A: Like you, I have a great deal of trouble trying to convince myself that 0-weight oils changed at dramatically longer intervals will protect our high-dollar investment for the life of the vehicle. And like you, I try to change oil in our daily drivers at 4,000- to 5,000-mile intervals regardless of manufacturer recommendation.
I did find some interesting information in my research. Toyota does, in fact, recommend 10,000-mile oil change intervals using their 0W-20 synthetic oil. However, according to my ALLDATA automotive database, the recommended oil change interval for your vehicle is 10,000 miles for the first oil change, then 5,000-mile intervals. Under "severe service" operation, the interval is 5,000 miles from day one. With the cost of lubricants being such a small component of overall cost of ownership, I'd stick with the 5,000 mile intervals.
Motoring note: I heard from several Corvette owners who have experienced the same issue with the electronic brake control module. While new units are priced over $1,000 and used units are still expensive and potentially questionable, several owners have had their EBCMs professionally repaired successfully. The unit is relatively simple to remove and repair costs are in the $150 range with a very quick turnaround, meaning the vehicle will be only disabled for a short time.
If I have this issue on my Corvette after the warranty expires, this is the repair route I will follow.