Q: We spend a
couple of months in Tucson, Ariz., in the winter and this year we
want to ship our car. Very complicated process with carriers,
shippers, middlemen, etc. I thought you may have some insight on
A: There is an
easier way. As automotive journalists know, there are companies that
move vehicles using human drivers to shuttle vehicles from one
writer to another. Quite often, they hire retirees to do the
driving. For a fee that often includes expenses and return travel
fare, someone will drive your car to Tucson. You could even fill the
vehicle with your stuff. CNBC did a good story on this subject.
Q: My question
is in regard to something I read in an online truck forum, where an
expert stated that the gasoline direct-injection engines are
experiencing harmful deposits on valves which are impossible to
clean with additives and can only be cleaned manually. Some
manufacturers may have reduced their powertrain warranties because
they know there will be some significant performance degradation as
time goes on, resulting in a need to manually clean the valves.
Is this really
true and is it a concern for those of us with direct-injection
Ocean City, N.J.
A: As we have
stated in this column before, gasoline direct-injection engines hit
the streets in large numbers around 2006. Yes, shops are seeing
engines with problems including rough idle, a drop in fuel economy,
misfires and hard starting. Some experts claim that the issue may be
due to ethanol in gasoline. Being hygroscopic, ethanol entraps
water, which leads to misfires and then enters the crankcase, where
it breaks down the oil additives, causing them to gas off. The oily
gaseous mixture then deposits on the intake valves via the positive
crankcase ventilation, or PCV, system. About all you can do is
change the oil regularly and use synthetic. There are no easy
solutions, including chemical solutions, to cleaning the valves. We
have not heard of carmakers shortening their engine warranties.
reading your column about wind buffeting, I was reminded of my first
new car purchase. It was a 1966 Chevy Impala station wagon. The rear
tailgate had an electric motor for lowering and raising the window.
It was great. If the interior was hot from the sun all I had to do
was lower the rear window and lower the side windows. The heat
vanished and no buffeting occurred. I drove this station wagon for
16 years with no regrets. I drive an SUV now and often wish I had an
electric rear window.
— J.H., Park
A: That open
back window allowed the incoming air to also flow out, preventing
the buffeting issue. However, be aware that at the rear of the
vehicle there is usually a low-pressure air zone — what some may
refer to as a partial vacuum. This presents the danger of drawing
exhaust gases back into the passenger compartment, which could be a
serious problem, particularly if the other windows are closed.
Vehicles at risk include modern SUVs and crossovers (which often
resemble station wagons).