Motormouth: How often should I plug in my car?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Q: We recently purchased a 2023 EV Hybrid Toyota Rav 4 Prime, and we absolutely love it but have different opinions on how best to charge it. My husband believes that we should plug it in every single time we drive, even if we have used only a few miles of the electric capabilities. I prefer to use up most of the electrical capacity, as we can usually do a week's worth of errands before the battery consumption goes to zero and the hybrid system kicks in. With a full charge, we usually start out with 45-47 miles of pure electric. Which approach is better for the life of the battery?

P.F., Colorado Springs, Colorado

A: There isn’t much reason to discharge the battery to nearly dead. Charging the car every night lets you awaken to a vehicle that is ready to go. You may also save money since many power companies charge less per kilowatt hour during off-peak periods. My choice? Get in the habit of nightly charging.

Q: I purchased a 2005 Lexus RX330 new, from a dealer. I have 116,000 miles on the car, and recently purchased my second set of replacement tires. The car came with a full-size spare tire, which is stored underneath the vehicle below the rear compartment. I have never used the spare tire, but each year I clean it and fill it with the prescribed amount of air pressure. Since the tire is 19 years old, is it still safe to continue to rely on it as a usable spare?

A.K., Mundelein, Illinois


A: Yes, it is safe to use the spare tire—sparingly. I would avoid highways. Your full-size spare should get you safely to a service shop. I have seen cars that have been left in a barn long term, then drive away once the tires are pumped up. Maryland state welcome signs used to say "drive gently." It is still good advice.

Q: Last year I misplaced a key fob to my 2021 Acura RDX. Since I could still start the car without the other key fob near it, I figured the one that was missing was somewhere in the car. I looked multiple times, my husband looked, my son looked. Nothing. Thought maybe it would just "work" its way out. Nope. Took it to a mechanic, he pulled the seats, the console, took up the carpet, searched the engine and trunk. Nothing. I can still lock the car with the other key fob so I don't feel the car is at risk, but I still wonder how does the car start if there is no key fob in it? If it is in there, how do I find it?

J.M., Naperville, Illinios

A: Finding a fugitive fob would be easy if you had attached an AirTag or Tile, but alas there is no other app that can help. As funny as it may seem, I have found lots of stuff that had fallen behind the dash. There is gap between the windshield and dashboard. You may need a good flashlight and small hands for your prospecting. Who knows, you might even find that elusive earring.

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