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I’m afraid your dealer is looking for what we call A.D.P. — Additional Dealer Profit. So I would go to Google Maps, get him directions to the nearest lake and suggest he drive there and jump in it.

Several decades ago, fuel injectors would get dirty after some tens of thousands of miles. And we had a big machine at the garage that we called the Wallet Vac. It was actually called the MotorVac.

The MotorVac would run a solution through the fuel system and clean out the dirty injectors and valves. And at one time, we probably used that machine three times a week.

But in recent decades — to address that problem — carmakers have worked closely with the gasoline companies to make what they call “top tier” fuel, which is super clean. It includes detergents, too. And we hardly ever see dirty fuel injectors on modern cars anymore.

The recirculate button reuses all but 5% to 10% of the air inside your car. It’s useful when you want to cool the car quickly, because you’re not continually introducing new, hot, humid air from outside.

The fresh air setting will introduce much more new air, and that’s what you want. I’m guessing you want to minimize the amount of passenger air you’re breathing. And to be fair, your passengers probably want to do the same since for all they know, you just got back from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Group Hug.

So even better — regardless of the AC settings — open at least two windows. Open your driver’s window and the window diagonally opposite that, on the passenger side in back. You don’t have to open them all the way, but even by opening them a quarter of the way, you’ll usually create a cross current and move air through the car. Even better, crack all of the windows a quarter of the way, if your passengers are amenable.

That doesn’t mean you have to forgo the air conditioning (or heat). You can run those anyway, even with the windows open, and make the

in-car temperature more comfortable.

In your case, I think your mechanic has a point. Normally, timing belts need to be replaced at around 90,000 miles. But age is also a factor with rubber products — like belts and tires. So even though this Corolla is far short of 90,000 miles, the timing belt has been sitting there, drying out and degrading, for as long as 26 years now.

When it breaks, it will prevent the car from running. And if it breaks while she’s on the road, she’ll be at the mercy of whatever shop she can find, and will be stranded for a day, or more.

So even though it’s hundreds of dollars to replace — you replace the water pump, pulley, seals and tensioner at the same time — I’d do it. It won’t cost you any more to do now than it will to wire her the money in Bone Gap, Oklahoma, on a rainy Sunday.

Keep in mind that there are lots of things that can go wrong with a car that was built in 1995: fuel pumps, alternators, starters, power steering pumps. And you won’t be able to predict or fix them all for her. If you did, that would be called a 2022 Corolla.

My first guess would be something called the crank angle sensor. The crank angle sensor does a lot of things, including directing the spark to the right cylinder at the right time. And we’ve seen bad crank angle sensors in a lot of older Jeeps. They tend to act up when the engine is hot.

It could also be a wiring problem, a bad coil, bad rotor or a bad distributor pickup. But I’d start with a crank angle sensor. That’ll cost you a hundred bucks or so, including installation. But not including your next muffler. Good luck, John.

So it works exactly like a gas cap does, except you never have to remove it, replace it, tighten it or go back to the gas station because you accidentally left it on top of the pump and drove away. A week ago.

These capless filler necks have been around for years now, and they seem to work great.

The only downside is that if you need to add emergency fuel — from a can with a flexible hose, for instance — you can damage the cap mechanism. So, several companies, like Ford and Honda, include a little plastic spout to use just for that purpose. You can check your owner’s manual to see if your car has one, and where it’s stored.

Cleaning out that goop is a messy, unpleasant job. It’s the tire shop equivalent of changing a diaper after your kid’s been playing in a bouncy house for four hours. And that’s why your repair shop said “no thanks.”

Some shops will do it but will charge you extra for it. Others may just refuse. Another disadvantage of Fix-a-Flat, and its ilk, is that they often don’t work on larger punctures, larger than, say, 2-3 millimeters — or a fat screw.

The best solution, of course, is a full-size spare tire. That allows you to keep driving indefinitely. But fewer cars provide full size spares these days.

The next best option is a mini-spare, which will let you drive 50 miles and does no further damage to your flat tire.

Next on my list is a tow truck. If you have a car club membership or roadside assistance, you can get towed to a repair shop and possibly have your old tire fixed.

If you’re stranded and none of those options are available to you, we prefer flat-tire “kits” that include a liquid sealant combined with a small air compressor that plugs into your car’s power port. Kits, like the Airman ResQ Pro+, tend to do a better job on larger punctures, up to 5-6 millimeters, and allow you to fill the tire with enough air to protect it while you find a repair shop.

Sound energy doubles for every 10 mph or so of speed. So road noise from traffic at 70 mph is going to be a lot louder than road noise from 30 mph traffic. As you and your family can attest.

Electric cars are more likely to help with noise on slower and residential streets, where acceleration can make as much noise as tires. And they’ll be particularly helpful in reducing noise when large trucks go electric. That’ll help your situation, Larry. But electric drivetrains, on their own, won’t solve your highway noise problem.

The good news is there are other technologies that may help. Lots of places are using rubberized asphalt to pave roads now. That’s asphalt mixed with bits of old tires. Kind of a homeopathic approach. Tire vs. tire. Those roads are a lot quieter. And there are experimental road surfaces being developed that might reduce noise even more.

But for not much more, you can buy a brand-new set of after-market wheels. If you Google “original steel wheels for 2005 Honda CR-V,” you’ll find perfect replicas of your original wheels for prices ranging from about $75 to $100 per wheel.

We found a good selection at, and all you have to do is pick the ones that match the size and style of your current wheels. I’m sure your mechanic would help you pick the right ones if you ask him. When you factor in shipping and tire mounting, you’re probably talking about $500, give or take.

There’s no reason to buy them from Honda, if Honda even sells these wheels anymore. As you know, the wheel was invented some time ago, so other companies have had plenty of time to perfect it.

The other stuff, you can avoid. GPS, power seats, power mirrors, seat warmers ... those are all options on lower-priced vehicles. But even the most basic car or truck you buy these days is still going to have 30, 40 or 50 microprocessors to handle everything from the lights to safety systems to engine and transmission management.

That’s led to great improvements. Cars are far more reliable than ever. And the safety advances from computers alone have been nearly miraculous. And that’s probably the best reason we can give you to “go out with a bang” and get a new car: So you won’t “go out with a bang!”

You’ll be exponentially safer in a 2022 Ford Maverick, 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz or even a 2-year-old Honda Fit than you’ll be in an ’86 Toyota HiLux.

If you really want a very simple truck, something pre-computer age, with manually operated everything, you’re going to have to look for a 1980s or earlier vintage compact truck that’s lived its life in a place where they don’t salt the roads. But if you can afford it, I’d encourage you to at least consider a new car for safety. The power windows might even grow on you.

So the coupes on the market now fall into two categories. They’re either small sports cars (Toyota Supra, Porsche Cayman, Mazda Miata) or luxury coupes for orthodontists who just ran off with their hygienists (Audi A5, BMW 4-Series, Infiniti Q60 coupe).

The mildly good news for you, Tom, is that you’re not the only one who likes the look of coupes. So the latest trend in sedans is “four-door-coupe” styling. Yeah, the name makes no sense, but the idea is to build a four-door car that has the silhouette and raked rear roofline of a coupe. Modern manufacturing has made it a little easier to disguise the rear doors by using thinner and blacked out B-pillars.

If you go online and look at, say, the VW Arteon, Audi A5 Sportback or the BMW 4-Series Grand Coupe, or even the current Honda Accord, and squint, you’ll see what I mean. Maybe you can find one of those you like and can afford. And then duct tape the rear doors closed so you don’t accidentally convenience your-self. Good luck, Tom.

A real car will be much safer and more comfortable. Oh, and drier in the rain. I don’t think I’d hesitate to buy an actual electric car (EV) if I were you, Michelle. I’m not aware of any issues with EV battery life diminishing from lack of use. Like most vehicles, they get worn out through use. So, generally speaking, the less you use it, the longer it should last.

And if your maximum trip is really 50 miles, you’re a candidate for the least expensive EVs; the ones that have limited range. For instance, Mini makes a Cooper that only goes about 100 miles on a charge. That’s a nonstarter for most people. But for you, that’s more than enough. And it’s not only fun to drive (and cute!), but it’s reasonably priced. It starts at about $30,000, before the $7,500 federal rebate and any state rebates you’re entitled to.

Or you can look at a Kia Niro, Chevy Bolt, a Nissan Leaf or VW ID4 — all very nice, compact EVs that have more range than you’ll typically need. And don’t forget the best part of owning an electric vehicle. You can always plug it into your neighbor’s outdoor outlet.

Idling doesn’t harm the car at all, Annette. If your sister starts idling near the mall, that’s another issue. But idling is no problem for your engine.

As long as your cooling system is working (and you’d know if it wasn’t because you’d see a “HOT” warning light on the dashboard), cars can idle indefinitely. Or until they run out of gas.

Idling is actually easier on the car than driving. The engine is doing very little work. I guess that’s why they call it idling.

But there are two concerns, and they’re related. One is pollution. When you sit there idling, the engine is still putting out carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide compounds.

And because of that pollution, the second concern is that many towns and cities now have anti-idling ordinances. Those limit the amount of time you can legally let a vehicle idle without shutting it off. So check your local regulations.

Something inside of you is rebelling. Something inside of you wants to have an unplanned encounter on a dark, lonely road with a mysterious tow truck driver. And your chances of that increase exponentially in a Jeep.

I think you need to buy the Jeep, Kathleen. Maybe it’ll be a revelation to you, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t embrace your riskier side sooner? Maybe you’ll be inspired by your Jeep to do more adventurous things, meet new people and explore new places?

Or maybe you’ll drive it for a couple of years, get tired of cracking your teeth every time you go over a pothole and go back to a Prius?

But there’s only one way to find out. And to be honest, in the big picture of life, this is a relatively low-risk experiment. In the worst-case scenario, if you drive it for a year or two and decide you’ve had enough, you can always sell it. Like I said, there are lots of people who want these things.

You’ll lose a little bit of money, but that’s all you’ll lose. And that’s not so bad. It’s not like you’re abandoning your family, cashing out your IRA and moving to Peru with your pool boy.

And if you buy a Jeep, you’ll learn something about yourself. You’ll find out if people who drive Jeeps really are having more fun. Or, if the grass is just less reliable on the other side of the fence. Enjoy, Kathleen.

But given how little you drive this Ridgeline, I would fix only what’s actually broken right now. While it’s fairly common to replace the axle along with a torn boot, it’s not necessary. The reason we do it is because we make more money that way.

No, actually the reason we do it is because the extra labor involved in replacing the axle, once you have the boot off, is trivial. And for people who drive 15,000 miles a year, it makes sense to preemptively replace the axle rather than have to duplicate the labor six, 12 or 18 months later. But since you’re driving 4,000 miles a year, you might not need an axle for five years. Or ever.

What you want a mechanic to do is remove that outer CV joint whose boot has torn open. You want him to soak that CV joint in parts cleaner and get all the gunk out of it that he can. Then he can examine it. It’s possible that the joint is damaged now, due to driving it with the damaged boot. But if it’s not making a clackety noise on turns, it’s probably just fine.

They found the fuel economy loss is as low as 2% and as high as 19%, depending on the type of car and type of equipment carrier.

Sedans are naturally more fuel efficient than SUVs, due to their shape and lower stance. And when CR put just a roof rack on a Nissan Altima traveling at 65 mph, it cost the Altima an 11% fuel economy penalty. When CR added a cargo carrier to the roof rack, mileage dropped 19%!

They also tested a 2019 Toyota RAV4. Since SUVs are already shaped like refrigerators, fuel economy is worse to start out with but dropped less during testing. The RAV4 saw only a 2% drop from the roof rack alone and a 13% drop when the cargo pod was added. The bike rack that attaches to a tow hook behind the car did less damage to the car’s fuel economy, averaging a 2%-3% loss when not carrying bikes.

While they didn’t test the corresponding increase in pollution these rack and carriers cause, you can assume that pollution is roughly proportional to fuel use. So, for the purposes of shaming your Sierra Club member neighbor, I think you can use those same numbers.

And while they cost more, they not only perform better and offer better protection to your engine, they also last longer, so you change your oil less often. So if you’re interested in such things, you’ll also be disposing of less waste oil, which is better for the environment.

If you had asked the Quick Lane guy to tell you how much synthetic oil is in the blend they use, he’d probably have no idea. “Don’t worry about it, little lady” is your clue that he doesn’t know.

Oils are not required to list their ingredients on the side of the container like salad dressings. So you’re right to suspect that a low price probably means less of the good stuff.

So unless the Quick Lane offers a genuine, full synthetic oil as an extra cost option, I’d go back to your old guy and keep using the synthetic. That’ll give you the best chance of keeping your Expedition running well into old age — its old age and yours.

Zipcar is the oldest and best known of the bunch, but Car2Go is starting to show up in more cities now. Here’s how they work. The cars are parked in dedicated, reserved parking spaces in busy areas. If you don’t already have a Zipcar where you live, ask your senior center administrator to offer Zipcar or Car2Go a dedicated space and see if they’ll base a car there. They often do that for apartment buildings and places where the cars will get used a lot.

Then, when you want a car, you just go online and sign up. You can reserve the car for an hour, three hours or a full day. And if you’re just using it for shopping or errands, it’s about $10 an hour, including gas and insurance. That’s certainly less than leasing a car that sits idle for 23 and a half hour a day. In fact, maybe you can offer to take a couple of neighbors shopping and charge them $6 each and come out ahead, Tony?

When the engine is hot — as it certainly would have been when she first pulled off the highway — the oil is not only thinned out, it’s also splattered all over the place. Including all over the inside of the dipstick tube.

So it’s entirely possible that, even after wiping off the dipstick, oil from the sides of the tube got on the stick again when she dipped for the second time to check the level. And if her friend’s father checked it soon after she arrived in Wichita after 150 more miles of driving, the same thing could have happened.

So most likely, she was a quart or more low when the light came on, and the mechanic was the only one who got the level measurement right.

You don’t say how low the oil actually was when the Omaha mechanic checked it. If it was just a quart or so, it’s unlikely she did any damage to the engine. But if this happens again, even if the dipstick only shows half a quart low, the safest course of action is to stop at the nearest 24-hour Walmart off the highway, buy a quart of oil and dump half of it in.

Then, the next morning, check the oil level properly. When the engine is stone cold, all of the oil will have run down out of the dipstick tube, and you’ll get a perfectly clean reading. As a bonus, you don’t even have to wipe off the dipstick. Or burn your fingertips trying.

If there’s a leak in any of those places, though, it should turn on your Check Engine light. The fuel system monitors itself for leaks, and if it can’t hold pressure due to a leak anywhere in the system, it’ll turn that light on.

In any case, it’s not always easy to find a leak like this, so you’ll need a competent mechanic who is dedicated to tracking it down for you. You should obviously fill the tank just before dropping off the car. The mechanic will then put it on the lift and use his eyes (to look for a wet spot), his nose (to smell the fumes), and his hands (to feel for liquid gasoline) to try to figure out where gas is seeping out.

If he strikes out under the car, he should also try removing the rear seat and checking the top of the gas tank. That’s often overlooked. And these cars can develop a crack on the top side of the gas tank, where it’s bolted onto the frame. That’s something the Mercedes dealer might know to look for, but your regular mechanic might not.

I’m sure you’re really putting the hurt on Toyota and Scion, Michael. Any day now, they’ll crumble and change their recommendation to 30 psi, just to get Michael to stop. Actually, putting 30 pounds of air in those tires is totally fine. Manufacturers recommend tire pressures based on a matrix of qualities they want to achieve.

They try to balance safety, comfort, handling, fuel economy and tire longevity. And when they put all those attributes in the blender, they come up with an ideal recommended tire pressure.

But over-inflating the tires — especially by a small amount — is not a big deal. Under-inflating them is what makes tires dangerous. An under-inflated tire will run hot and can fail at high speed. So don’t round down.

But rounding up is not a problem. Technically, you’ll get a little less comfort, a little better gas mileage and perhaps better handling and tire life.

If not, you can always try a quick tap on the horn. But that doesn’t always work. Some cars seem to have only two horn positions: off and tugboat.

Interestingly, we test drive new cars, and we’ve seen several technologies starting to be used to address this annoyance. Subarus, for instance, use the forward collision warning system to detect when a car in front of you has pulled away. And it gently beeps at you to get moving.

BMW also uses its forward collision system to detect when the car in front of you pulls away and restarts the engine (which automatically turns off when you stop at a light). That’s also a nice way of getting the driver’s attention.

That’s a great, secondary use of that collision-avoidance technology. But it doesn’t work if you’re first in line at the red light and there’s nobody in front of you for the car to “detect.”

The short answer is no, Steve. You don’t need to do anything special. Your 2,500 miles a year — or a couple of hundred miles a month — is actually enough to keep things lubricated and moving. So I’m not concerned about anything seizing up due to neglect or disuse.

I’d change the oil once a year or two, and I’d use a synthetic oil if you haven’t done so already. And then continue to follow the maintenance schedule.

Whatever it calls for, do it. I know it stopped in the book at 100,000 miles, but use your high school math skills to figure out the intervals and apply them to your current mileage. So, if the book calls for a new air filter at 60,000 miles, you’d do that at 120,000 and 180,000, too.

Of course, random things will go wrong with it, like they will with any old heap. Your fuel pump will croak. Your exhaust system will rot. But you’ll just have to fix that stuff as it happens — like the rest of us jamokes.

My one piece of advice would be to have an actual mechanic look it over once a year, just to notice safety-related stuff you might not see. A mechanic can put it up on a lift and let you know if a wheel bearing is about to go, if your brake lines are rotting or if your fuel line is corroding.

I think the squealing is actually coming from your tires, William. But I don’t think you need new tires, either. What you’re hearing is the tires scrubbing or dragging along the smooth, sticky, concrete floor of your parking garage.

Chemically sealed concrete is almost perfectly flat and nonporous. That means 100% of the tire’s contact patch is in touch with the garage floor.

So when you turn the steering wheel, you end up dragging the tires — in tiny little movements — over the garage floor.

The tires are intermittently sticking and then sliding a little bit. And that stick-and-slide creates the "eeerrr-eeerrr-eeerrr" squeaking sound you hear. It’s a lot like what you hear on a basketball court, as players stop and pivot and their sneakers drag along the court surface.

When you’re on a normal road, it doesn’t happen, mostly because the pavement isn’t as smooth. Those chunks of asphalt create a much more porous surface than concrete, so not every square millimeter of your tire’s contact patch is touching the road.

So when you turn the steering wheel, you end up dragging the tires — in tiny little movements — over the garage floor.

The tires are intermittently sticking and then sliding a little bit. And that stick-and-slide creates the "eeerrr-eeerrr-eeerrr" squeaking sound you hear. It’s a lot like what you hear on a basketball court, as players stop and pivot and their sneakers drag along the court surface.

When you’re on a normal road, it doesn’t happen, mostly because the pavement isn’t as smooth. Those chunks of asphalt create a much more porous surface than concrete, so not every square millimeter of your tire’s contact patch is touching the road.

Plus, when you’re driving, there are other noises that would drown it out, like engine noise, wind noise, road noise and your copy of “Led Zeppelin IV.”

What can make the squealing noise worse? If the garage floor was recently resealed. If you have wheels that are out of alignment and more likely to drag or scrub on turns. Or if you’ve been watching too many Charles Bronson movies, William, and are flying into your parking space at 30 mph.

By the way, if I also drive this one for 27 years, I will be 100 and still driving it. Thanks for any suggestions or help. —Fran

I’ll need a crane to get myself into a Miata when I turn 100. I’ll certainly need one to get me out.

When you go over a speedbump, Fran, you’re causing the suspension to go beyond its normal limits. And strange things happen when you push components that far. So finding the culprit — without convincing your mechanic to hang by his fingers under your car while going over a speedbump — is going to involve some guesswork. What could be making noise when pushed past its limits? It could be something like your control arm bushings, which are involved in letting the wheels move up and down without letting them move forward and back.

Next time you’re in, ask your mechanic to start by spraying your four front control arm bushings with silicone penetrating oil. If that doesn’t help, try the rear bushings next time. Ideally, you want to know what fixes it, so you’ll know where to spray when the noise comes back. Don’t spray the convertible top, though. I think we can rule that out.

Another possibility is that the car itself is flexing over the speed bump, and the spinning driveshaft is momentarily scraping against the exhaust system. That’s not uncommon.

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