Questions and Answers from “The Car Doctor” – Oneida Dispatch

Q: What do you suggest I use to clean the mats in my car, these are aftermarket mats made by WeatherTech. I washed it with soap and water, it is clean but very boring. I don’t want to use a spray that will make it shine because it’s also very slippery. Any suggestions?

A: There are some products you can try. One is, Solution Finish Black, and the other is Black Trim Restore from Meguiars. Both should return black without slipping. I use Meguiars Black Trim Restore in my car’s exterior trim and it’s not greasy and lasts well since it’s weathered.

s. The Biden administration is considering a policy change that would allow E15 gasoline to be sold during the summer months. What do you think of this high ethanol gasoline? I know that old cars, boats, and power equipment don’t like 10 percent ethanol gasoline.

A: Just to be clear, this is my personal opinion. Most auto manufacturers approve gasoline with up to 10 percent ethanol. Some independent tests have shown that cars built since 2001 should have no mechanical problem when using gasoline with up to 15 percent ethanol. The problem, in my opinion, is that a higher proportion of ethanol results in lower fuel consumption. This means that with gas selling near me at $4.50 a gallon, the E15 would have to be about 10 cents per gallon to make any savings. Additionally, ethanol has higher evaporative emissions which are a problem in the summer heat. Corn is also a very important agricultural crop to feed people. Before using any different gasoline blend, drivers need to review owner’s manuals to ensure their vehicles are compatible.

Q: I have a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze, when I turn on the heating, sometimes the air conditioner comes on. When this happens I turn the temperature control knob to high and select “floor” for the air delivery position, then when I turn the fan on, the air conditioner turns on. The air blows warm, like a mixture of hot and cold air. If the fan is already on when you start the car, it won’t. I took it to the dealer, but they found no fault. any ideas?

A: There are no technical service bulletins that specifically address this issue. At this point, you will need to make the problem clear to the dealer or repair shop so they can form a repair strategy. The climate control system just like every part of the car has a computer that controls it. The repair can be mechanical or reprogramming of the body control computer. The air conditioner usually turns on when the defroster mode is selected or selected. Even with the air conditioner on and the temperature setting to hot, the air temperature should be warm/hot.

Q: I am concerned about an older female relative who is about five feet tall and drives with her seat as close as possible to the steering wheel until her feet are on the pedals. Are pedal extenders a good idea and if so what product would you recommend? I am concerned about the airbag spreading and causing a major head injury.

A: This issue is typical as we age. We have seen that 9 out of 10 drivers do not benefit from simple modifications that can be made to almost every car. You are right that sitting too close to an active airbag can have serious consequences. At this point, your relative has two options, they can turn off the airbag or add pedal extensions. These modular pedal accessories can be easily added to almost any vehicle by most repair shops. You can also order an airbag closed by filing paperwork with the NHTSA. Pedal extenders can be purchased through “mounting devices” that provide modifications for disabled drivers or online.

s. According to the owner’s manual for a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado that I recently bought with a Duramax diesel, it has a computer system that determines when the oil and filter need to be changed. Recently, that was after 11,192 miles and previously 10,523 miles. The dealer I bought this truck from recommends every 7,500 miles, and other diesel mechanics have suggested shorter lead times. I want the engine to last but I would be happy to hold the oil change off as long as it is safe. I think Chevrolet would know better, what do you think? Also, with diesel prices on the rise, is there anything I can do to improve fuel economy?

a. Oil changes have been done over many years frequently for a variety of reasons. The fuel was wasted during the combustion process and ended up mixing in the engine case. Oil and oil filters are not quite as good as they are today. In addition, engines run hotter which helps remove contaminants such as moisture from the oil. If this is my car, I will follow the recommendation in the car owner’s manual or electronic monitor. Some of these systems use very complex calculations to determine when the oil needs to be changed. I’ve also seen a third party test to confirm overall accuracy. In terms of fuel economy, gas or diesel, the basics are the same. Keep the tires properly inflated, keep up with maintenance, ease the accelerator and brake pedal, push the speed limit and avoid deceleration.

Q: I have a 2009 Hyundai Sonata that runs beautifully and it was the best car I’ve ever owned and has less than 150,000 miles. The serpentine belt has never been replaced but it looks perfect. In 150,000 miles and 12 years I have to replace it.

A: It is not unusual today to see drive belts and rubber hoses lasting 10 years or more, but at some point everything will have to be replaced. If the belt showed no signs of glazing or cracking and was quiet on startup, I wouldn’t worry. However, if I am planning a long trip in the near future and want to prevent any possible crash, I will replace it.

Do you have a car question? Email the car doctor for a personalized response. [email protected]

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