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Motormouth: Where's the front license plate?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: It was always my understanding that here in Illinois, the law requires license plates on both front and back of a vehicle. However, most of the Tesla cars I see on the roads don't seem to have one in the front. Is there special dispensation for Teslas or other EVs? Can you explain?

T.S., Woodridge, Illinois

A: Maybe they don’t want to restrict the airflow across the radiator. Nah. There’s no radiator, not even a grille. I have heard many excuses such as that the plate looks ugly. (That could apply to many cars, including mine.) There are no holes for a front bracket, but Tesla does supply brackets with peel-and-stick tape. Or, they will wait for a “fix it ticket” that may only carry a small fine.

Q: I recently purchased a new Kia Carnival (aka Sedona) shortly after buying a Kia Niro for my wife. Both vehicles have a feature called Auto-Hold. As I’m sure you’re familiar, this feature allows me to remove my foot from the brake pedal once I’ve come to a complete stop. Neither my wife nor I have used the feature yet. I have two questions regarding the use of Auto-Hold. Firstly, when I come to a stop and remove my foot from the brake, do the brake lights stay on? If not, couldn’t this be a safety hazard if the car coming up from behind doesn’t recognize that I’m stopped? Secondly, from a strictly mechanical standpoint, is it better to just keep my foot on the brake while stopped? Or is there something about the Auto-Hold feature that will cause less wear and tear in the long run?

B.F., Palatine, Illinois

A: Thanks for asking, but at the risk of sounding snarky, you could have enlisted help from your wife to watch from behind the vehicle. Yes, the brake lights remain illuminated. There is no advantage of keeping your foot on the brake pedal. There won’t be any more or less wear either way.

Q: A friend recently traveled to Africa and tried to rent a car. All they had available were cars with manual transmissions, which he had never driven before. After failing to successfully drive it out of the lot, he was told he had to hire a driver. I grew up driving stick shifts, so I committed to teaching him how to drive one. However, I haven't seen one available to rent here in the States for years. Do you know where I can rent a car with a manual transmission?


S.D., Chicago

A: I haven’t found any conventional car rental firms that offer manual transmissions. I recently requested a Porsche while my pickup was being repaired due to a hit-and-run. No dice. Yes, it had paddle shifters, so it performed like a stick, but I did miss “rowing my own.” I guess the economics just don’t add up for rental companies to stock sticks.

Q: The car wash I go to has fancy, colored lights for wash upgrades. I get the economy wash. Who’s being fooled here, me or them? LOVE your column; my son is a certified mechanic and I save your column for him.

K.C., Elwood, Illinois

A: Have you seen "The Wizard of Oz"?

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