Q: The local car dealer was advertising “buy three get one free” tires. While researching the information on the tires, one listed brand and model had a recall notice posted on their website and another said the model has been discontinued over a year ago. The dealer told me that they wouldn’t be selling a recalled tire. The dealer was offering road hazard service in the package. Should I be concerned my free road hazard program would be useless if the model I bought was discontinued? I was told that tires sitting in warehouses for years is not a good thing.
How about some tips on tire buying? I’m wondering if I bought these tires at Walmart and brought to dealer for alignment, would they tell me tires I bought are not suitable for my car? Because the cost of tires can add up, who should a consumer trust for tire buying info? — D.L., West Palm Beach, Florida
A: Most tires come with a road hazard warranty and that includes models that have been retired from their line. Tires sitting in a warehouse do not really age or get stale, and I would have no problem buying tires that are well past their manufacturing date. But high-volume tire sellers seldom have such old stock hanging around. Buy your tires wherever you wish and get your alignment wherever you wish.
You won’t be turned away because of the tires on your car. The most comprehensive website for tire information, which sells almost every brand, is www.tirerack.com. Click on the Research & Advice tab then select “tires” from the menu.
Q: The last few cars I have had use the quick windows, which I think are a pain. Is there a fix to change them to work how you want them to? — D.H., Barto, Pennsylvania
A: When you say “work how you want them to,” I presume you are referring to the ability to open the window a crack or halfway, instead of full up or full down. I don’t know what kind of car you have, but on most, there is a simple solution. Press the button halfway down (or halfway up) and the window will stop when you release the switch.
Many cars have a slight bump in the switch travel, although it is not always easily felt. With practice, you will gain full control of your windows without resorting to retrofitting your car with hand cranks.
Q: I’ve heard that magnetic oil drain plugs remove abrasive, small metal shavings that the oil filter misses. Do you think that one of these plugs could enhance and prolong a trouble-free engine life? — L.F., Chicago
A: I like magnetic drain plugs, but not because they trap stuff that the oil filter won’t. The filter will, indeed, trap the stuff. Particles on the drain plug provide a hint to wear: no particles, no excessive wear. Remember though that magnets only attract ferrous (iron) particles, not anything else. On my Harley, there is no transmission filter, so a magnetic drain plug is worthwhile.
Q: I have a 2018 Toyota 4-Runner. The dealer says to change the oil (zero viscosity) every 10,000 miles. However, my mechanic says every 6,000 or even every 5,000. What say you? Also, any thoughts on the 4-Runner in general? — G.C., Chicago
A: Your 4-Runner is a fine vehicle and you will never go wrong changing your oil more frequently than necessary, but you will waste money. Synthetic oil is not cheap and only synthetic is able to meet the zero weight — the 0W-20 viscosity your vehicle requires.
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber’s work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest.
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