DRIVE Q: The warranty is about to expire on my 2002 Ford Escape. I intend to keep it for five or six more years. To protect my investment, I'd like to buy an extended warranty. A company in Iowa quoted me $1,155 for six years or 75,000 miles with a zero d

A:Decent? Absolutely -- for the warranty company in Iowa, which stands to make $1,155.

When you have problems with your car in those six years, do you drive to Iowa for repairs? What's that? You can take it to any dealer for repairs and the dealer gets reimbursed by the Iowa company? Dealers love the thought of corresponding with an Iowa firm and waiting for their money.

And will repairs needed be covered by the warranty or will there be exclusions for wear and tear or owner neglect?

If you put $1,155 in a bank now, it sure would cover a lot of problems in the future -- and a lot of trips to Iowa. don't you think?

Q:My wife and I are considering a new Toyota Sienna. The one we want with all-wheel drive doesn't come with a sunroof.


The dealer offered to have an aftermarket sunroof installed. How will the aftermarket sunroof affect the warranty, structural integrity and resale value of the vehicle? -- B.L., River Forest, Ill.

A:Toyota spokeswoman Mona Richard said, "We don't warranty the vehicle after you put a hole in the roof." Warranty coverage voided, however, would pertain to paint finish and corrosion protection, not to the engine or transmission. Richard said structural integrity depends on the integrity of the company doing the conversion. Resale value? The aftermarket roof means you have no body panel or rust prevention warranty to transfer to the next buyer, so you be the judge of the effect on resale value.

Q: Is this a good time to buy a new Ford gas/electric hybrid car or should I wait until they work the bugs out and improve the technology? -- G.A., South Holland, Ill.

A:Best you wait because Ford doesn't offer a gas-electric hybrid car now. Its first gas-electric hybrid will be a version of the compact Escape sport-utility vehicle this summer.


Send questions about cars and trucks to Jim Mateja, Chicago Tribune, 616 Atrium Drive, Vernon Hills, IL 60061-1523, or send e-mail, including name and hometown, to

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