Motormouth: Squeaky (steering) wheel gets the grease

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

August 27, 2018

Q: My steering wheel squeaks when I try to make a turn. What would cause this to happen? I have a Toyota Avalon 2002 with over 100,000 miles.

ó S.D., Chicago

A: This is rather common on Toyota cars, including the Camry, Solara and more. The steering shaft passes through a rubber boot at the firewall. You will see it if you crawl under the dash. Spray some aerosol white lithium grease between the boot and shaft and the noise will go away. Make sure you get some grease all around the shaft and boot.

Q: My daughter in Atlanta got a flat in her 2017 Mini Countryman. She was told she needed to replace it with another run-flat tire and the whole thing would cost her $250. Couldnít she replace it with a similarly-sized regular tire?

ó J.C., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

A: The short answer is yes, she can. Minis are notorious for their harsh ride and conventional tires may improve it. Regular tires are also less expensive and generally last longer than run-flat tires. But, if she gets a flat on the conventional tire, there may be an issue. Without a spare, she canít hobble the car home. But wait, there is a solution. Buy a tire sealer and inflating kit. The latex sealer closes the hole and the high pressure pump (powered by the carís battery) makes the tire round again. If the current tires are getting close to replacement, now is the time to get four new hoops.

Q: The air conditioning runs well when our 2012 Ford Fusion is first started out the garage. However, once we are driving it tries to get cold but doesnít. We just refilled the Freon. Any suggestions?

ó T.K, Chicago

A: This is a common problem with a simple fix. The air conditioning system draws moisture out of the air which collects in the bottom of the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling) case that houses the A/C evaporator coil. A drain hole, to which a hose is attached, lets the water fall to the ground. Thatís why you see puddles under the car when you park in the summer. If the hose or drain get plugged, the water accumulates and forms ice on the evaporator, blocking airflow. Turning the A/C off for a while lets the ice melt and cooling is restored, but only for a little while until ice forms again. Have the drain cleaned out. By the way, Freon is a brand name for R12 refrigerant which has not been used for many years.

Q: I enter a very hot car on a steamy summer day, turn on the A/C at max setting, and enter the road where I will be driving a few miles under a 35mph limit. My car has a six-speed automatic which keeps the engine at 1500 rpm until the speed increases above about 50. My question is: if I manually select a gear that will increase rpm to around 2000, will the A/C cool me down quicker due to the increased compressor speed?

ó W.E., Cary, Ill.

A: Nope. If it worked that way, you would freeze on the highway and bake in the city.