Q: My son will get his driver's license soon. Time for my wife and me to think about the optimal car for him. We always hear that a bigger, heavier car is good for a new driver, primarily for the protection it affords. But large vehicles can be harder to handle, which creates its own problems for a new driver. Which vehicles do you think strike the best balance between weight and ease of handling for a new driver?—John C. Katz, Falls Church, Va.
A: Safety experts seem to agree that midsize cars like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion are best for first-time drivers because they tend to have the latest safety features, plus enough size and structure to protect occupants in a crash. They are also less likely to tip over than larger, heavier vehicles including crossovers and SUVs.
Q: We currently own a 2009 Audi A6 quattro with 46,000 miles. We purchased the car new, and all of the service has been performed at the dealer. Do you think we need to purchase the extended warranty service known as Audi Pure Protection? There are five different categories of coverage, they are: Powertrain coverage, Silver, Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum. Premiums range from $2,100 for Powertrain up to approximately $3,900 for Platinum coverage for two years or 24,000 miles. Our intent is to keep the car for another two years.—P. Bauer, Brecksville, Ohio
A: I tend to advise against extended warranties because they often use our fear of breaking down on the road as way to make easy money. Your Audi should be good for another two years without the extra support of a pricey warranty. However, if you are truly concerned about the prospect of an expensive repair, stick with the Powertrain coverage and think about shopping around with other warranty companies. You might find a better deal.
Q: My daughter bought a 2006 Scion tC about a year ago. The EPA ratings are 22 city and 29 highway. My daughter is averaging 17 mpg. About half of her driving is on the freeway. My daughter is something of a lead foot. Is the true Scion tC mileage that bad?—Paul Saenz, Fountain Valley, Calif.
A: We hate to hear it, but driving style affects fuel economy significantly. A few jackrabbit starts, or regularly speeding on the highway, can kill your fuel economy even in a small, four-cylinder car. And that is how people tend to drive the sporty tC. Try persuading your daughter to accelerate smoothly, coast when possible and stick to 60 mph or so on the highway (I know, it's painful). She'll see an improvement in fuel economy,
Q: I got the transmission fluid in my 2009 Toyota Camry completely changed (flushed) at a non-dealer place (Tire Kingdom). My Toyota dealer later informed me that only a dealer can tell how much fluid to refill the transmission with because only they have the special diagnostic equipment (laptop) to do that, and that the dipstick FULL reading isn't accurate. Is this true?
A: As I understand it, the newer Camry engines are especially sensitive to fluid level and don't even have conventional dipsticks for measuring the level. Filling them properly involves putting the fluid in, getting it up to operating temperature, then draining to get the level just right. It may be best to have a dealer check it.—Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared February 6, 2013, on page D6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Jonathan Welsh answers readers' questions about automobiles.