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My 2015 Toyota Sienna SE was rear-ended in July of 2017. My insurance company decided not to write off the van and instead had it repaired. The repairs were $18,000. It’s now 15 months since I got the van back from the repair shop, and I’ve had a number of problems with it, like the rear hatch being misaligned with the body of the van. Now my front passenger-side door seems to also be misaligned with the body. Could these issues be related to the July 2017 accident? What can I do? I would really appreciate any advice! – Rachel, Calgary

Most finance companies require new-vehicle owners to have full replacement-cost insurance coverage for the first two years of ownership. Since your accident likely occurred within that two-year window, your insurance company would either have to fix it or buy you a brand new van. Given the large difference between repair cost and replacement value, you can see why they decided to fix it.

The true problem is that the untrained eye doesn’t know what to look for when examining a vehicle after a major accident. I seriously doubt that the rear hatch and doors became misaligned from normal driving in the last 15 months. The more feasible answer is that they were never right in the first place.

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Take your vehicle to another reputable body shop and pay for an independent assessment of the completed accident repairs. If they find any issues, make sure you get a written report and call your insurance company for further assistance.


I have a 2008 Ford Escape that I bought used and am looking into a tune-up. Ignition coils and a plug change cost about $200. But I’ve been told that the top end needs cleaning – for $900! It has a new gas tank and fuel injectors, as I found out after buying it and learned it’d had sugar in the previous gas tank. The truck was never taken care of in terms of its driving/mechanical parts, which I’ve been steadily replacing for two years. I just don’t know if this $900 work is truly necessary. – Lori H

In my 30 years of repairing vehicles, I have never actually seen a car that I was sure had sugar in the gas tank. It seems to me like this is one of those urban legends that manifests whenever someone doesn’t know what is wrong with a car. It is also my experience that when someone specifically asks for a tune-up, that they actually have a rough-running or misfiring vehicle and hope a tune-up will solve their problems.

Given that, I have a hard time fathoming what a $900 top-end cleaning entails. I am going to assume that with the recommendation of ignition coils, tune up and top-end cleaning, that your Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) is illuminated, indicating a stored random engine-misfire code. This list of recommendations makes me suspect that whomever is giving you this list doesn’t truly know what’s wrong with your vehicle. Since you have been steadily replacing parts for the last two years, perhaps it’s time to consider replacing the vehicle or the repair shop.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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