Q: My Honda Civic has
a computer that estimates remaining oil life. That usually indicates
I have about 50% oil life left when I reach the mileage indicated on
my windshield sticker for my next oil change. The sticker is placed
there by the repair shop doing the oil change. Should I follow the
instructions of the manufacturer/car computer or the repair
A: Your Honda, like
many vehicles, utilizes a sophisticated algorithm based on engine
operating conditions such as speed, engine temperature, ambient
temperature, and run-time in order to predict oil life. This
provides a much more accurate estimate of oil condition than miles
or time alone. I try to change my oil at perhaps 20% calculated life
remaining, sometimes less. 50% is doing more to pump up the service
provider’s bottom line than to protect your engine!
Q: When replacing
your battery, can you hook up the battery charger leads to your
positive and negative cables so you won’t have to re-install radio
A: I wouldn’t
recommend this. It would likely work but without the battery being
present to absorb the possibly erratic electrical noise emitted by
some chargers, it’s possible damage or corruption could result to
sensitive vehicle components or their software.
A safer alternative
would be a “memory saver,” a device that connects a small
battery to the accessory/lighter socket, or better yet the data link
connector (DLC, a sixteen terminal under-dash connector used with a
scan tool for vehicle diagnosis).
accessory/lighter sockets aren’t active when the key is off. There
are also cables that connect the DLC to another vehicle’s
accessory socket, or perhaps one on a jumper pack. A consumer grade
battery powered memory saver typically has wimpy capacity, so resist
opening doors or operating anything that may wake up vehicle systems
while it’s in use (wait 30 minutes after connecting it and
departing the vehicle before removing battery terminals)
Q: I have always
loved cars and worked on them quite a bit when I was younger, mostly
out of need. Last 30 years I have done well enough to drive good or
I would like to take
classes and learn to work on cars in a serious manner; however, the
auto schools around me are only pretty much full-time, and not much
is offered in the evening. Quitting work at this stage or doing
classes in the daytime is not an option.
Is there a way for me
to learn to work on cars in a part-time manner?
A: Take a look online
at www.yourmechanic.com “10 best online certification programs.”
Most listed would provide useful information, regardless of whether
you want to become certified.
is curling up with a good book such as “Automotive Service:
Inspection, Maintenance and Repair” by Tim Gilles. This is a
widely used automotive textbook, and Tim does a great job with it;
the fifth edition is the most recent. ASE certification booklets on
the various systems (brakes, engines, transmissions, etc.) can also
provide pretty current technology information.