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Motormouth: Changing channels

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: It should be clarified, in my opinion, that analog AM radio as we currently know it will soon be extinct, but there is an option for stations to convert to digital AM that was recently approved by the FCC. Also, some AM stations are currently using the HD FM format to transmit signals. In my area, WCCO 830 AM simulcasts on 102.9 KMNB-HD2.

J.N., Minneapolis

A: That is good news, at least for some. The Federal Communications Commission will allow U.S. AM radio station owners to convert their stations to all-digital HD Radio transmissions if they choose to do so. The FCC approved it effective Jan. 1, 2021.

Q: Virtually every time I have my oil changed, when I get home and check the oil level, it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the full indicator dot on the dip stick. I assume this is because the mechanic just pours in the whole 5 quarts. This really annoys me, but does it really make any difference to the engine or am I just overly sensitive about it?

R.R., Riverwoods, Illinois

A: Being slightly over the full mark is no problem. One possibility is that the shop is in a hurry (who isn’t these days?) and does not allow the oil to fully drain to the last drop. Some of the old stuff may be lingering inside the engine and that’s OK.

Q: 2014 Chevy Compass. Once a month the battery dies. This happens after not driving for a couple days. Nothing found when left at mechanic overnight to monitor where losing amps could be. This only started happening about 6 months ago. Purchased new battery but still something drained it. Could alternator be the culprit? Bought the car in 2015.

T.K., Montgomery, Illinois

A: The alternator is an unlikely culprit. Try moving your key fob away from the car. Leaving it on the seat could keep the communication active between it and the vehicle. If that doesn’t do the trick, there is probably a parasitic draw somewhere else.

 

Q: I have a Subaru Outback with AWD and 60,000 miles. The dealership keeps pushing me to change the front and rear differential fluids at a cost of approximately $185-190. The Subaru manual only suggests an inspection of the fluid and never actually recommends replacing, as they do for brake fluid and antifreeze. When I look online the consensus seems to be that this might be a good idea. I usually follow the manufacturers recommendation but am having second thoughts.

L.M., Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

A: Would like a large fries with that burger? Businesses are in the business of making money. You can say no to the fries and differential fluids. Your option.

Q: This question has probably been asked hundreds of times, but I’ll ask again. What’s the best method to clean a dashboard and keep dust particles from staying away as long as possible? I really don’t trust Armor All, which seems to attract dust faster.

J. P., Bloomingdale, Illinois

A: I feel for you. Some products seem to attract dust like a moth to light. I have asked friends what they use; Meguiar's Ultimate Interior Detailer, Griot's Garage Interior Detailer and 303 All Surface Interior Cleaner keep coming up. I borrowed each and they have worked well. But there are certainly other products. I just can’t vouch for them.

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