DRIVE Q:I bought an '04 Subaru Forester. A few days later, I started having problems with my keyless remote and had to press the fob multiple times to lock/unlock the doors. Sometimes the locks simply didn't respond. The Subaru service department reprogra

A:Subaru spokeswoman Larkin Hill said tall buildings and heavy cell-phone activity can affect your remote. On a recent trip downtown in a BMW, we experienced the same problem; the remote wouldn't lock or unlock the doors.

Hill also said remotes usually act up when the battery needs replacing, which she advises after two years, though service folks we talked with said batteries should last much longer than that.

Q: A review of the Ford Freestyle makes me wonder when the Mercury Sable will be discontinued. -- J.M., Chicago

A: Ford says the Mercury Sable and its companion, the Ford Taurus, are in the production schedule through the '05 model year, but beyond that they aren't commenting.

With the premium midsize Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans for '05 and upcoming Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans for '06, the days of Taurus and Sable are numbered.


Q: I have an '04 Hyundai XG350, a wonderful car, but I have one quibble. The instrument panel displays are too dim. They seem to be LEDs and are too faint even when turned up all the way and are washed out in sunlight. The dealer has no suggestions for brightening them. Any fixes your readers can suggest? -- B.B., Chicago

A: We called Hyundai and the first suggestion was to have your eyes examined, not because they don't think you're having a problem, but to rule out that your eyes as the problem because you are having trouble only in sunlight.

They also had a suggestion for your dealer, who had no ideas of his own -- run a quick computer check to determine whether the LED system is working properly.


Jim Mateja writes about cars and trucks for the Chicago Tribune.

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