Home & Leisure

Motormouth: Where is the turn signal?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I’ve noticed recently that many newer model cars have the rear turning signals and taillights much lower, along the rear bumper line. I’ve found many times that I’ll be at a stoplight behind a car and unable to see if they are turning or not. Seems like a safety hazard to me. Your thoughts?

J.K., Morris, Illinois

A: I have gotten this question several times. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, brake lights should be at the same level on the rear of the vehicle. Their minimum height must be 15 inches above the road surface, and their maximum height should not exceed 72 inches. I couldn’t find a regulation for turn signals. Personally, I don’t care for the lower placement. But, by maintaining adequate space between my car and the one in front of me, the lights remain visible. Not ideal, but not illegal.

Q: My 2009 Toyota Venza with 190,00 miles on it makes a loud humming-type noise when driving. Up around 70-75 mph you can barely hear it. It seems to come from the rear of the car. Any thoughts on what could be causing this?

J.B., Coplay, Pennsylvania

A: Humming is most often caused by the tires. It’s easy to find out. Simply swap the rear tires with the front tires to see if the noise goes away. If it doesn’t, further diagnosis is needed.

Q: I have a 2023 Toyota Camry hybrid. My understanding is that there’s a 12-volt battery that supplies the traditional power to control the car, and there’s the hybrid battery that produces electricity for propulsion. I’m assuming there’s an alternator or something that does charge the 12-volt battery when the car is running. But if you’re listening to the radio while the car is parked, it seems like there’s a risk of depleting the 12-volt battery and not being able to start the car later.


C.S., Chicago

A: There is no alternator on hybrid or electric vehicles. There is, instead, a DC-to-DC converter that provides 12 volts from the propulsion battery pack. Don’t worry, you won’t kill the 12-volt battery by using devices when you select the accessory mode on the ignition switch.

Q: I own a 1988 Mercedes Benz 56-SL and I take good care of it. The guys at the detailing shop want me to bring it in and among other things they want to steam clean the engine for another separate fee of $100. Two questions: Do you think steam-cleaning the engine is a good/necessary activity for this car? If it is a good thing, is $100 a reasonable price?

M.B., Downers Grove, Illinois

A: As a mechanic, I love to work on a clean engine. If your engine is not covered in greasy dirt, you don’t necessarily need to get it cleaned. But a thick buildup may cause the engine to run a little hotter. The price sounds reasonable.

©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus