Motormouth: How jog your car's memory

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Q: I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee in warranty and I stopped by a dealer because my memory seats stopped working. Was told it would be a two-week wait and would be tied up all day. Made an appointment. The next week got an oil change for my wife's car at my local mechanic and mentioned Jeep seat problem to the service writer. He told me just use the forward-backward power switch all the way each way and it will reset it. When I got home, I tried it and sure enough it works again. I wonder what the dealer would have charged if it was out of warranty?

M.W., Westchester, Illinois

A: One of life’s mysteries is why things lose their memories, but as you found, those memories can sometimes be restored. If your power windows stop working properly, try the same thing. Put them down and hold the switch for three seconds and then up and hold for three seconds. Voila.

Q: Some drivers have their wiper blades pulled up and away from the front windshield during snowfalls. Does this help the longevity of the wiper blades with them in this up position off the windshield?

V.B., Chicago

A: Yes, it does extend the life of the blades. How? It keeps them from freezing to the glass. Many motorists damage their wiper blades when scraping snow and ice from the windshield. Sometimes they forget to turn the wipers off when parking and, upon startup the next day, the squeegee (rubber part) suffers damage. Even minor damage results in streaks, which always seem to occur directly in your line of vision.

Q: I have a 2020 Nissan Titan two-wheel-drive and when I took it in for an oil change, I was informed that I need a brake line flush and to replace the brake fluid, check and/or replace at 15K miles to 30K miles. I pull a travel trailer, so I went with the fluid flush and replacement at 22K miles. I have been driving for more than 50 years and this is the first time I have ever heard of this, and it is in the manual! Is it really necessary?


M.G., Port Orange, Florida

A: If it is in the owner’s manual (the vehicle Bible/Torah/Quran/…), then yes, it is necessary.

Q: I read your article about pulsing brake lights. I do agree they are annoying, and they should not be allowed. However, as I’m sure you’re getting emails that some new cars are coming stock with the CHMSL (third brake light) pulsing. Honda and Toyota are apparently doing this. I’ve started seeing some GM products with it too.

R.C., Great Falls, Montana

A: Although strobing brake lights are available in the aftermarket, that doesn’t make them legal. You can’t blame car owners who want to improve their safety, but Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) state that only solid glowing brake lights are allowed, albeit at a brighter level than taillights. There may be some car dealers that up-sell customers to strobing CHMSLs (center high-mounted stop lights) and to the best of my knowledge it is not illegal to sell them. Displaying them, however, is another matter. Federal law does not prohibit the owner of the car from installing them. Check the law in your state to determine whether a flashing third brake light is permissible.


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