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Motormouth: Which gas should I use?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I bought a 2018 Ford Edge Sport new and have driven it for almost four years. The dealership said to use 87 octane gas so that's what I've been using. My manual says anything from 87 to 91. Where I fill up, 88 octane is usually a little cheaper, although one day it was 40 cents less per gallon. Would there be any harm to switching to 88 gas after all this time of using 87? I've tried to look it up but I'm seeing either yes, I can, or no, don't do it. Just trying to save a few dollars if I can.

D.S., Glencoe, Minnesota

A: Yes, you can. That 88-octane fuel is 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. It is called E15. There is a slight fuel economy trade-off. According to the Department of Energy, you will likely get 4% to 5% fewer miles per gallon with E15.

Q: Here's how to avoid the garage door being opened, especially if the garage is attached and the car is parked in the driveway. To avoid break-ins, I installed a wall switch between the opener motor power and my garage door opener switch on the wall. If you park for the night, turn the power off for the opener. In this way, no one can lift the door even if your car is broken into.

H.K., Morton Grove, Illinois

A: Not a bad idea. Another option is to install a smartphone controlled electrical socket adapter on the motor. You can deactivate and reactivate your garage door opener from almost anywhere.

Q: My son is heading to college next month and will be taking his 2010 Infiniti EX35 with him so he can drive home for holidays. The car will not be driven often, maybe the occasional trip to the store or to visit his girlfriend. Should I instruct him to take it out once a week? If so for how long? Any other advice?

S.W. Lake Zurich, Illinois


A: With the price of gas, he should take public transportation to see his girlfriend and do his shopping. The car will be fine sitting in the school’s lot, but short hops may not provide adequate battery charging so a solar smart charger may help.

Q: In your recent article about the 2014 Toyota Camry you suggest a "fresh new — 2022 — battery" for the key fob. Correction: it's a — 2032 — battery.

S.U., Liverpool, New York

A: I knew that, but my fingers didn’t cooperate.

Q: I once left my door ajar leaving a dome light on, thus draining the battery of my 2007 Honda Ridgeline. I knew a jump-start would get me back on the road and allow the alternator to recharge it, but without another car available for a standard jump-start, I was stuck at home for hours waiting for my roadside assistance to show up. Can you recommend a portable battery jumper I could keep in my truck in case this happens again? It gets ridiculously hot here in Las Vegas, so can said jumper be safe to keep in my truck?

T.A., Las Vegas

A: There are plenty of portable jump-start devices available both online and at your favorite auto parts or big box store. I would hope the desert heat would not harm them. When you are out and about, you should have no problem getting a good Samaritan to provide a jump-start so a set of cables is all you need. Leave the power pack in your garage.

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