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Motormouth: Tires too old?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I'm having a problem getting basic tire rotations/services done on the Michelin tires I bought in Minnesota five years ago. Tire service centers in Arizona won't do simple things like rotate the tires because they say that they can't service tires older than five years due to the effects of the heat and sun. The tires are nowhere near the warranty mileage or tread depth wear indicators and the car is garaged.

T.U., Phoenix

A: Industry experts say that any tire that has been properly stored has a useful service life of six to 10 years. The in-use time starts as soon as you drive on them. Did you check the dates on the tires when you bought them? Of course not; only tire geeks do that. The tires may have aged on the shelf but are still OK. Find an independent shop that will handle your service needs.

Q: I have a 1996 Mustang GT 4.6-liter. Lately, at idle or low revs, a trumpet-like howl will come from under the hood. It stops when I push the accelerator. Of course like the proverbial squeak, it won't do this in the presence of my newer and more experienced mechanic. Any thoughts?

D.W. Virginia Beach, Virginia

A: Check all the hose connections for the fresh air intake system. A loose clamp may be the cause of the noise. Some Fords had an issue with the idle air control (IAC) valve and updated hoses alleviated the problem.

Q: I have a 2014 Jetta. I discovered during a heavy downpour that the sunroof is prone to leaking. Our local VW dealership declared it a maintenance issue, which is ridiculous. I paid $1,500 for them to replace drain tubes that I, or anyone else, could not know existed. There is no reference to them in the manual. I wrote VW, who denied any responsibility. After Googling it, I learned there is a class-action lawsuit pertaining to this issue. Shame on VW. Do you have any advice on how to prevent a repeat?

 

M.B., Austin, Texas

A: This happens to cars on which the sunroof is not always closed when parked. Dust, dirt and other junk can collect in the channels that normally direct the water into the tubes. Rain then carries that stuff into the drain tubes. After time, the tubes get clogged. Keeping the tubes clean, or occasionally cleaning them, prevents interior precipitation problems.

Q: I know this isn’t your typical question, but it’s one that’s plaguing our neighborhood. A new neighbor drives a car encased in shrink-wrapped advertising and parks on our street. Over the winter, the car constantly blared out “ZOOM” in bright colors, big letters and imagery. Now it’s screaming “SELF” financial in blues and oranges. Do people get paid to drive these monstrosities? And why do companies pay for such in-the-face advertising when it generates such obviously negative reactions? What does it cost to wrap a car? Is it legal for anyone to do? And how hard is it to strip off?

B.M., Jefferson Park, Illinois

A: Yes, people do get paid to offer their vehicles as rolling billboards. Carvertise, one of the largest, acts as a broker between the advertiser (or ad agency) and vehicle owner. Chicago is one of its markets. Vehicle advertising is cheaper than other media and seen by a greater variety than a stationary sign seen by the same daily commuters. Yes, it’s legal. Car owners are usually compensated according to factors such as locations, time on the road and so on. The wrap is easily removed without damage.

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