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Motormouth: Reducing brake dust

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: What is your advice regarding reducing brake dust? The front wheels on my 2016 Mercedes SL 400 (47,144 miles) get dirty very fast. Within a few days of washing, they begin to show a gray tint that will turn dark within a week. I am considering getting ceramic brake pads for the car. Any suggestions?

B.B., Las Vegas

A: This is a common complaint from Mercedes owners. Ceramic pads may help, but consider installing dust shields. Check with your Mercedes dealer parts department. They are available for your vehicle.

Q: Years ago, all car doors had plastic or rubber strips on them to prevent dents. Presently, cars do not have these strips and most cars have dents or dings on their doors from other car doors. Why did the car manufacturers stop putting these strips on the doors?

S.C., Newburyport, Massachusetts

A: Originally, the main purpose of those body strips was to make a styling statement. They were often chrome. Adding rubber came later. Although styles change, many trucks and SUVs still have side molding. You can find auto body side molding in the aftermarket. It’s often peel-and-stick.

Q: I have a 2009 Ford Escape with two key fobs. One works just fine, but when I put a battery in the other one, it goes dead within a week. I have checked the contacts and everything that I can see looks OK. Do you have any ideas of what the problem could be?

T.S., Colorado Springs, Colorado


A: You may be buying lousy batteries online. Try using a brand name battery from a reputable store. Check the expiration date on the back of the package.

Q: Rats started in on my car, ruining my wiring right before I sold it. They don't like chicken wire, steel wool or WD-40, which is poisonous when they get it on them. It works if you can get them to walk through. Rat poison is something you have to be careful with, so they don't eat it and get eaten by another predator. Plus, they might go somewhere you can't get to them, and then die.

M.S., Chicago

A: WD-40 will kill rodents if inhaled, but not by walking through it. WD-40 will, however, deter rodents due to its odor. Poisons, as you noted, should be avoided.

Q: We recently purchased a new 2024 VW Jetta Sport (1.5-liter turbo). The dealership says they will provide free oil changes for 5 years (one every 10,000 miles). The salesman and the owner’s manual say the first oil change should be done at 10,000 miles. Being a former auto technician, I am familiar with changing the oil after the break-in period of normally 1,000 to 3,000 miles. I am sure there will be metal debris from the break-in period, and I don't feel it's a good idea to wait that long for the oil change (we plan on keeping this car for a very long time). I will probably pay the dealer to do it at 5,000. I know you tend to lean on what the manufacturer says, but this seems like a long time.

S.C., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

A: Both motor oil and oil filters have come a long way since the days of 1,000-mile break-ins. Debris will be minimal if at all and, of course, the oil filter will handle it. I have no problem with a 5,000-mile oil change. Go for it.

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