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Motormouth: Gas stations of the future

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: As the car market transitions to more electric vehicles, what will traditional car service stations do since all the service needed by internal combustion engines will be replaced by a big battery?

M.N., New Richmond, Wisconsin

A: One of the scenarios is that stations may become hybrids themselves, selling gas and electrons. Since filling the batteries takes longer than filling the tank, they may become travelers’ oases. Charge your car and have lunch, for instance. Charge your car and go to the bar? Probably not. Maybe get a haircut. Entrepreneurial minds seem to have no limits.

Q: I have a 2010 Lexus RX350 with 128,000 miles and the handling is not as precise as I like. Although there is no leakage on the shocks, I am wondering if you would recommend replacing the shocks because of the age. If so, would you recommend original equipment replacement or another brand?

D.B., Falcon Heights, Minnesota

A: New shocks and struts may make a noticeable difference. Not only do they restore handling, they contribute to shorter stopping distances by keeping the tires from skipping when braking. You can find original equipment components also in the aftermarket.

Q: I have been seeing several comments about the use of Techron and similar products. The claim is to prevent intake valve deposits. I have a 2010 Cadillac with a direct fuel injection engine. The fuel is not sprayed on the valves, but directly into the cylinder. They made a big deal about direct injection when introduced, but not so much anymore. My wife's Focus has a DI engine. Are these cleaners effective for DI engines? Are people who unknowingly have a DI engine wasting money?


R.F., Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania

A: On direct injection engines, the valves see only fresh air. So, you are right about the additives being less useful.

Q: I travel on the highway a lot and I'm a woman who keeps her car in good shape. I had my gaskets and oil pan replaced two years ago -- expensive. Anyway, I went for an oil change, and they stripped my drainage plug. They offered to repair it, but the trust was gone for me. I told them I wanted a new oil pan. I would feel safe on the highway knowing I had another oil pan. What do you think?

E.P., Chicago

A: Stripped and worn out drain plugs are pretty common. If the oil pan’s drain threads are OK, all you need is a new plug. If the drain hole is damaged, there are lots of repair products that have been trusted for years. You will be safe.


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