Q: You recently advised to follow the owner’s manual in choosing a grade of gas. Does that advice still hold if the manual says regular is fine but, for reasons long forgotten, the owner has been pumping nothing but mid-grade over the car’s entire 17-year life? If it matters, the car is an RX330 with about 120,000 miles.
W. K., Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
A: The only harm you have done is to your wallet.
Q: Since my 2016 Ford Explorer had a recall performed for the high-speed cooling fan motor relay, the fan turns on very loudly every (approximately) 30 seconds at idle when the A/C is on. It is so loud that I turn off the A/C at idle if I want to talk to someone at a drive-thru. I went back to the Ford dealership and the service adviser listened to it run and told me that this is normal when it's hot out. Is this how the vehicle should have performed and sounded all along?
J.S., Woodstock, Illinois
A: For the first six year you owned the vehicle, did the fan make that racket? If it didn’t come from the factory with that noise, it should not make that noise now. I have to wonder if they changed the fan along with the relay. A fan with the wrong blade pitch could be the culprit.
Q: We have a 2022 Tesla Model X. We have an electric gate opener at our ranch, but we cannot program the Tesla to open it. We had no problem programming the car for our garage door opener. We followed the owner's manual instructions, but no luck. Is there some way to do this?
J.H., Madera, California
A: Many gate openers use a receiver with dip switches to set their codes. If you have used a hand-held opener in the past, you may have to continue using it. Otherwise, you may have to upgrade the gate opener itself.
Q: I have a 2011 Chevy pickup with standard issue 17-inch tires/wheels. I need new tires. I'm thinking about going up to 18-inch with new wheels too. What does this do to gas mileage? Does it increase or decrease? The manufacturer listed 18, 19, 20 sizes when I purchased it.
B.M., Deep River, Connecticut
A: You can go with 18-inch wheels and tires, known as a plus one upgrade. But the overall diameter must be the same as your original wheels and tires. Otherwise, your speedometer will report the wrong speed. The wrong diameter will affect the anti-lock brake (ABS) system and possibly the stability control system. To avoid these issues, you need tires with a lower profile. Plus-one or plus-two tires may improve the look of your truck., but will do nothing to improve your fuel economy.
Q: My garage has a device to drive over to check alignment. Is this measurement accurate? If so, when shown the printout, what are the specs that I need to know to verify that an alignment is necessary.
B.H., Center Valley, Pennsylvania
A: The measurements from the alignment device are accurate and can be trusted. If a problem is detected, the shop’s alignment technician will show you results of your car’s test as well as the specifications for proper alignment. If the readings are within the range, you are good to go.
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