Lewis asks; I was taught to drain ALL of the oil out of my engine during an oil change. To do this, I remove the drain plug and oil filter and let it drip onto the drain pan. Then, I crank the engine for 30 seconds to help pump out the remaining oil from the system. I had a neighbor come up to me and say that I was crazy and was damaging my engine. Who is right?
Mike: Lewis, your neighbor is right. And, yes, you are crazy. You should NEVER start an engine without oil in it. The extra ounce or two that you are getting out of the system is not worth the damage you are doing to the bearing surfaces when running them without oil. You are losing YEARS of engine life by doing this. Not to mention you are voiding your engine warranty. Your engine will fail and cost you thousands of dollars. If you are dead set on paying your mechanic’s boat payment, it is easier to just give him the cash outright. By the way, did your mechanic tell you to do this?
What is the Difference?
Shelly asks; I have a strange question that I can’t find an answer to, even on the internet. What is the difference between a convertible, a cabriolet, and a roadster?
Mike: Shelly, this was a question that I had to ask an expert, Ralph Gilles head of design and CEO of Chrysler’s SRT Brand. Ralph says: “A Convertible is a four seater. Cabriolet is definitely French for Convertible. Often shortened to Cabrio, is a name used by marketers to add a little fashion! (and charge more) A Roadster is a two seater. Here is more; a Speedster is a permanent Roadster with very compromised weather proofing if at all. A Hardtop Convertible is a pillar less steel roof car with full drop glass. So there you have it, from a guy who knows. -MH
Here is a tip: If you’re going to do any work on your car’s electrical system, disconnect the battery before you do anything. To do this, remove the negative cable first, (tie it out of the way) then remove the positive cable. The negative side has a minus sign and the positive a plus sign. Why do it this way? Removing the negative is removing the return path for the current so nothing can touch the terminal and cause a short. When reconnecting, put on the positive first and then the negative. Make sure the terminals are clean and tight. While you are at it, it is a good idea to coat the terminals with grease or spray paint to protect them. -MH
I want to answer your questions on the radio! My radio program, “In Wheel Time” airs Saturdays 9:00-Noon on Yahoo Sports 1560. The call in number is 713-439-1560. You can also listen or watch streaming video live on our website: www.inwheeltime.com. Like us on facebook www.facebook.com/inwheeltime
Mike is an ASE Certified Master Technician and auto shop owner for 31 years. If you have questions or comments, E mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.inwheeltime.com to read more articles.
Maria writes: I have a 2006 Civic with 99k miles. My window tint has turned a reddish color and is too dark to pass state inspection. Also, the tint on the rear window is bubbling up and looks terrible. Is there anything I can do to fix this?
Mike: Maria, it needs to be removed and replaced. The tint has to be heated and carefully removed. This is something that I would take to a tint shop. On the side windows, it is a matter of safety. When low quality tint gets old, it often becomes a reddish color and gets darker. The State of Texas has a minimum requirement for light passage and your vehicle fell below that limit. At night, you might not see someone crossing and have an accident. Please get it removed asap for everyone’s safety.
Don writes: I have a question about checking tire pressure. Is it best to do it when the tires are cold or hot?
Mike: Don, it is best to do it cold because as you drive the vehicle, the tires heat up, the air expands and it raises the pressure as the tires a couple of pounds. It may show them as ok when they are a little low. Either way, I’m just happy that you check them!
Here is a tip: Even though I hate to fill out those warranty registrations for the things I buy, I do it and so should you. This is the main way for manufacturers to notify you if there is a recall on their product. If you buy a used vehicle, look in the owners manual for a tear out card that you can send in to tell them who owns it now. If it is missing, call or e mail them with your address and the vehicles VIN (vehicle identification number) so you can be in their database. Sure, you might get some junk mail, but it could also help them find you if there a recall. If I can do it, you can too. It is a safety thing.
I encourage you to call and talk to me on the radio! My radio program, “In Wheel Time” airs Saturdays 9:00-Noon on Yahoo Sports Radio 1560. The call in number is: 713-439-1560. You can also listen or watch streaming video live on our website: www.inwheeltime.com. Like us on facebook www.facebook.com/inwheeltime
Venture questions: We have a 2002 Chevrolet Venture Van with less than 54,000 miles on it. We have had the oil changed every 3,000 miles or less and had it serviced faithfully at the Chevrolet dealership. How often should we have all the belts and hoses replaced? Thanks! Liz
Mike: Liz, great questions! Your main serpentine belt runs all of your accessories.(ac, alternator, water pump, power steering, etc) And it is automatically adjusted (kept tight) by a big spring loaded pulley that is called the automatic belt tensioner. You should replace the tensioner and belt every 60-70k miles, if it shows signs of cracking, or it is 6-7 years old.
The same with your hoses. Sure, you don’t have many miles, but you have TIME working against you. I would change my coolant every 2-3 years (30k miles) and the hoses every 7-8 years. If you have kept your coolant changed regularly, then you can go 8 years on hoses. The dealer is caught between GM telling them that things last forever, (like coolant lasting 5 years…HAH!) and the customers needs in our severe climate. A political tightrope.
A Sinking Pedal?
Harley Writes: I have a 2003 Nissan Frontier truck with brake problems. When I sit at a light, the brake pedal sinks to the floor sometimes. My husband drove it and it didn’t do it for him. It was acting up about once a day, now it happens more often. Could it be My imagination?
Mike: Harley, what you have is a brake master cylinder that is bypassing. The internal hydraulics are failing and it should be replaced as soon as possible. It will completely fail sooner than later. When replacing the master cylinder it is a good time to have your brake system flushed. Only buy a new one by the way, not rebuilt, or remanufactured.
Should I Coat It? Angie writes: I am purchasing a new Civic next week and was wondering if I should have it undercoated. I have heard pros and cons, but would like your input.
Mike: As a former tech, I hate undercoating because it makes it hard to work on anything that has been sprayed. It also adds unnecessary weight to the vehicle and that makes fuel economy suffer. New cars have great corrosion protection and a corrosion warranty from the factory. You don’t need it. There is no way I’d undercoat any of my vehicles.
Here is a tip: It is back to school time and time to have your student’s vehicles checked over before they have to use them every day. This is a good time to have the oil changed and a good looking over. Also, it they are going away to college, do your homework and find them a local service shop they can go to in an emergency.
If you like this column, you can hear more of the same on my Saturday morning radio program. “In Wheel Time” airs from 9:00-Noon on 1560 “The Game.” You can also listen or watch streaming video live on our website: www.inwheeltime.com. I also encourage you to “like” us on facebook (www.facebook.com/inwheeltime)
Mike is a ASE Certified Technician and auto shop owner for 31 years. If you have questions or comments, E mail me: email@example.com or go to www.inwheeltime.com to read more articles.
Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST) has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in certain BFGoodrich Commercial T/A® A/S and Uniroyal Laredo® HD/H™ brand replacement tires, and is recalling approximately 800,000 tires from the U.S. Market. These are
typical fitments for commercial light truck vehicles and full size heavy duty vans.
It is possible that any one of the affected tires may exhibit a loss of tread, and in some cases rapid air loss resulting from tread belt separation, thereby presenting a risk to motor vehicle safety. Further, MAST is required to advise you of certain tire dealer obligations, which are detailed on pages 4 and 5 of this notice.
The following list provides the descriptions, DOT (Department of Transportation) sequences, and DOT production periods of the affected tires. The four dashes at the end of the DOT sequence correspond to the week and year of production, which are given in the DOT production period information.
Tire Description MSPN DOT Sequence DOT Production Periods (Inclusive)
LT235/85 R16 120Q LRE 45879
BFGoodrich Commercial T/A A/S BF0R JD11 – - – - 1310 to 2912
LT245/75 R16 120Q LRE 89589
BFGoodrich Commercial T/A A/S
BE11 JD11 – - – -
BF11 JD11 – - – -
1310 to 0312
1311 to 5211
LT235/85 R16 120Q LRE 49827
Uniroyal Laredo HD/H BF0R JDUU – - – - 1310 to 2912
LT245/75 R16 120Q LRE 55810
Uniroyal Laredo HD/H
BE11 JDUU – - – -
BF11 JDUU – - – -
1310 to 0312
1311 to 5211
Only tires matching these descriptions and DOT sequences and DOT production periods, are part of this safety recall. To determine if you have received tires that are included in this safety recall, please check the DOT marking found on the sidewall of the tire. As a result of this safety recall, you are required to take the following actions:
1. Check your inventory for the specific DOT identification numbers affected. Immediately stop the sale, and/or mounting of these tires.
2. Immediately count your inventory of affected tires and record specific DOT identification numbers. Provide this information to your MAST Customer Service Representative.
3. Disable all recalled tires in accordance with the NHTSA Disposition of Recalled Tires provision. Please refer to pages 4 and 5 of this letter. For a tire removed from dealer inventory (new or worn) the dealer will receive a $4.00 credit to disable the tire. Contact your Customer Service Representative for return authorization and shipping instructions. Return all recalled tires from your inventory as soon as possible after disablement. You will be compensated for all recalled tires that you have in inventory (new or worn).
Freight charges will be prepaid. Upon receipt by MAST, Customer Service will issue a credit to your account for recalled tires at current dealer/Distributor invoice/acquisition price.
4. Immediately provide Consumer Care with a list of Tire Owners to whom you sold the tires that have been recalled. This list should include the following information: name, address, city and state, zip code, phone number, MSPN, quantity, and date of mounting/sale. Consumer Care will contact known Tire Owners by letter to notify them of this safety recall and the replacement process.
Please send to:
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Preferred Method)
Or Fax to: 864-458-6650 Attention: Tire Safety Recall
Or Mail to:
MAST Consumer Care Department
Attention: Tire Safety Recall
PO Box 19001
Greenville, SC 29602
Replacement of Recalled Tires
Tire Owners may contact you to inspect their tires and, if required, replace them without charge. When this occurs:
1. Validate that their tires are part of this safety recall.
2. Ensure that you have the correct replacement tires in inventory. A list of MAST
appropriate replacement tires is attached in appendix B. If no appropriate MAST tire is
available in your inventory or for timely delivery, a competitive tire of same size and equal
or higher service description may be used. Please call MAST Consumer Care at
1-800-637-5527 for authorization before installing non-MAST tires to ensure proper credit
will be issued.
3. When replacing the recalled tires with new tires, follow current MAST warranty procedure
per your Authorized Dealer Agreement. Please see the warranty checklist in appendix A.
· All safety recall replacement tires are at no charge to the consumer, regardless of
remaining tread depth.
· The direct dealer/distributor will be credited the acquisition price of the
replacement tire, a service allowance ($8 per tire) and a mounting and balancing
allowance ($8 per tire).
· In addition, a service allowance will provided for disabling the tire ($4 per tire).
4. Disable all recalled tires in accordance with the NHTSA Disposition of Recalled Tires
provision. Please refer to pages 4 and 5 of this letter for instructions.
5. Mark each disabled tire by applying a paint stripe across the tread. It is permissible to
apply one paint stripe across the treads of stacked tires.
6. Upon accumulation of 25 recalled tires removed from consumer vehicles, or after 30
days, please contact your Customer Service Representative for return authorization and
The recalled tires must be returned for the credit to be processed. If you have any
additional questions, please contact your Customer Service Representative.
Commitment to safety, quality and respect for the customer are our highest priorities. Please
accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience that replacing these tires may cause.
Thank you for your support in helping us to implement a successful safety recall.
Vice President, Sales
James writes: I have a 2008 Tahoe with two problems:
1. The low fuel level light comes on after we fill up. The gas gauge will show empty and then back to full. The light will go off then come back on. What do you think is wrong?
2. Just recently, some of the radio station numerals(1,3,4,6) do not light up at night. Also, the seek button doesn’t light up. What do you think is the problem?
Mike: Your Tahoe gauge problem is most likely the fuel sending module that includes, unfortunately, the fuel pump. Bad news: It is outrageously expensive and the tank has to be removed to replace it. Better news: the replacement units are supposed to be better. Before you jump to conclusions, I would do some diagnosis to confirm it is bad. As far as the radio goes, it is an internal radio problem that needs to go to a radio repair shop. Call your dealer and they will tell you who to call. Don’t worry, it’s not always expensive.
What are Ball Joints Anyway?
Karen writes: My shop says that my 131k mile, 2005 Tacoma needs new ball joints to make the front end reliable and stop tire wear. What does that mean?
Mike: Karen, ball joints are a part of your trucks front end that connects the steering knuckles, or spindles to the control arms. A ball joint is a lubricated flexible ball and socket that follows the s up and down movement and still allow the wheels to turn left and right. Most trucks have an upper and lower ball joint on each side. Ball joints are wear items and should be replaced when they show signs of wear. Since you have to align the front end when a ball joint is replaced, change all of them so you only have to have it aligned once. If you wait too long and a ball joint fails, the suspension can collapse, so don’t put it off.
Here is a tip: I have had several questions about batteries lately. Batteries in the Houston climate usually only last 2.5 to 3 years. If yours is that near that age, consider replacing it before it fails. You can save yourself electronic problems and most likely a wrecker fee. I recommend a replacement batteries such as Optima, Interstate, or Die Hard. Please stay away from discount stores. Of course, if you wait, and have a failure, you get one where you can.
If you like this column, you can hear more of the same on my Saturday morning radio program. It airs from 10:00-1:00 on 1560 “The Game.” The show is called “In Wheel Time.” You can also listen or watch streaming video live on our website: www.inwheeltime.com. I also encourage you to “like” us on facebook under www.facebook.com/InWheelTime Thanks!
Mike is a ASE Certified Technician and auto shop owner for 31 years. If you have questions or comments, E mail me: email@example.com or go to www.inwheeltime.com to read more articles. -MH
Tire Light On
Millie writes: I just had the tires replaced on my 2007 Impala and now the tire pressure light is staying on. Do I have to reset it or something?
Mike: Millie, you shouldn’t have to reset it. My best guess is that the tire shop damaged one of your wheel sensors when installing the tires. It is easy to damage and easy to fix. Take it back to the tire shop and have them recheck it.
More Tire Questions
Coleen writes: I have a 2011 Toyota Venza with a V6 and 24k miles. My tires are worn out and I need to buy new ones. I absolutely love the way the original tires performed, except for how long they lasted. I have heard you talk about the way the tires are designed for the vehicle, but I need them to last longer. What do I do?
Mike: Coleen, when vehicle manufacturers set the requirements for the original tires, they don’t specify a wear mileage requirement. That means that the replacements tires may have the same model numbers as the original equipment ones, but will last much longer.
The difference has to do with special ingredients in the rubber compound. I once had a pair of replacement Goodyear Wranglers last 45k miles when the exact same original tires only lasted 30k miles. This is why I don’t buy “take off” tires from the tire shops anymore. (tires replaced on new vehicles) They won’t last as long.
Check under the hood! Checking under the hood occasionally can head off little problems before they become big ones. If you are unsure, your owner’s manual will have a section on under hood checks for reference. Heed all safety warnings and any warning stickers that may be under the hood. Most everything under the hood will be hot, so be careful. Except for transmission fluid level, all checks should be done while the engine is turned off.
If the engine is running, don’t put your hands near any belts or fans unless you want to be called “Stubby”. If you are not comfortable with doing any of this, stop by any dealer or service center and whey should do it for free. The secret is to do it.
I invite you to listen to my radio program on Saturday mornings from 10:00-Noon (new time!) on KGOW 1560 “The Game” starting March 3, 2012. The show is called “In Wheel Time.” You can also listen live on our website: www.inwheeltime.com. I also encourage you to “like” us on facebook underwww.facebook.com/InWheelTime
Mike is a ASE Certified Technician and auto shop owner for 31 years.