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Motormouth: Tips to avoid salt corrosion

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: We live part time on the East Coast, close to the ocean. The exposure to salt air accelerates corrosion. Do you have any suggestions on what we can do to minimize this? Also do you have any suggestions on vehicles that may be more corrosion resistant?

H.S., Chicago

A: Run it through a carwash that offers an undercarriage wash—even if it costs a buck or two more. Body panels on many new cars are made of plastic or aluminum. Keep a magnet in your pocket to check.

Q: When it rains, our 2018 VW Golf leaks on the right front column. The dealership told my husband that they blew air into the drain tube from the moon roof. That has not solved this issue. Do you have any thoughts on how we can solve that problem?

V.P., Chicago

A: Water leaking from the front column—known as the A-pillar—is a sure sign of a clogged moon roof drain. If the blast of air didn’t open the drain, maybe a wire could do the trick—kind of like a long pipe cleaner or miniature sewer snake.

Q: I have a 2021 Mazda CX-5. When I plugged a tire inflator into the center console, it wouldn't work. I then tried the plug in the trunk, and it worked. I contacted my Mazda service department, and the guy told me that the center console plugin can't be used for a tire inflator.


J.O., Chicago

A: The power outlet in the center console should not be used for anything that draws more than 120 watts. Often, the limit is written on the outlet’s cover.

Q: Recently the range on a tank of gas dropped on my 2008 Prius. The warning beep came on signaling the tank was down to the last gallon. The tank will now only accept 5 not 8 gallons and the gas gauge only registers 3/4 full. I was told it most likely needs a new fuel pump. I wonder if I can just keep refueling at 5 gallons or will I be in trouble soon when the fuel pump quits? Is there a way to clean or replace a fuel sensor?

M.A., The Villages, Florida

A: Since the pump and the fuel level sensor are one assembly, if you decide to replace the sensor, you replace the pump at the same time. I think you are good to get a fill-up when the warning comes on. It’s unlikely the fuel pump will fail.

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