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Motormouth: Warranty woes

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I have a 2008 Chrysler Town and Country that I purchased new. I also purchased the Chrysler Lifetime Maximum warranty. The ABS, BRAKE, ESP/BAS, ANTI-SKID warning lights came on. My dealership inspected the vehicle and tried to order a new sensor. They notified me that one was not available, either new or aftermarket. This was why I purchased the lifetime warranty. Ugh! My service writer said I could drive it, but ABS will not work and that Chrysler would probably have to "total" the vehicle and offer me market value to satisfy the warranty. Vehicle looks and runs like new. I'm still driving it and would like to for some time to come.

W.T., Elgin, Illinois

A: The service writer must not be aware that ABS wheel speed sensors are readily available in the aftermarket from a variety of manufacturers and a variety of auto parts stores. Yes, perhaps the original equipment part is unavailable from the dealership.

Q: I like to shift my automatic transmission into neutral when I am stopped at traffic lights if I am on level road. Is this a good practice? It gives my right leg a break from not holding the brake pedal down. I am careful not to let my truck roll. What are pros and cons?

J.S., Las Vegas

A: The practice neither helps nor hurts. But there could be issues if you need to accelerate away from a vehicle about to rear-end you. If you do get hit, leaving your foot off the brakes could also cause your car to crash into the one in front of you. Your insurance company may consider this a collision when you file a claim and cite you as being at fault. If your leg needs a rest, shift into park.

Q: My car maintenance service suggests I get an oil change every 3-4 months assuming I drive about 10,000 miles between changes. So the reminder sticker they put on my windshield shows that my next oil change was due last March at 53,300 miles. Since I drive only about 5,000 miles per year and my milage is only 51,300, I haven’t changed the oil yet. My car is a 2014 Toyota Camry SE that uses synthetic oil. Do you recommend changing the oil based on time since last oil change or based on mileage?

 

S.A., Las Vegas

A: Although they can be a helpful reminder for some motorists, I personally consider those stickers marketing tools to drive repeat business. Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual for both time and mileage or the oil change reminder onboard the car.

Q: I have a 2020 RAV4, and my daughter has a 2018-ish hybrid version. We both have noticed that the windows do not defog well in the winter, especially in the back seat, a problem here in Minnesota for several months a year. When I took mine to the dealership last winter (first winter with it), they told me it was because the carpet was wet. This year on a cool morning in early October, I noticed it again and we'd had no rain or snow. This past week with the snow, I did not drive the car so there's still no moisture. And still the windows fogged up last night. Do you have any tips for me? The only way I've found to help so that I can see to safely drive is to have the fan on full blast and the back seat windows cracked open. None of which is ideal.

L.D., Minneapolis

A: What do you think is the quickest way to warm the car cabin? Set the controls to recirculate? Nope. Recirculated air picks up moisture not only from wet carpet, but from human breathing. With every exhale, we add moisture to our environment. Select the fresh air setting on your HVAC controls and I have a hunch you will clearly see good results. You have already proven better results with fresh air from the rear window.

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