Q: I have a 2010
Nissan Sentra 2.0-liter. My check engine light came on and the code
indicated that my variable valve timing solenoid was the issue. It
had been about 6,000 miles since my last oil change, and when I was
braking, the oil light was coming on, telling me I was due.
I then noticed my
typical 25 MPG was down to 20. I went to get an oil change, as I
read that very low oil or very dirty oil can cause the VVT code to
The light did indeed
go off after a day or so, and that same day I ran to the emissions
center to have the car checked. It passed the inspection, but since
then, my MPG has been staying at around 18-19.
Any suggestions on
what I can do to boost the MPG back up to about where I was?
ó G.A., Lake in the
A: The first thing we
would do is zero out the MPG history in your carís memory. Start
with a clean slate and you may find that your current fuel economy
numbers are better.
Keep in mind that
most carsí fuel economy is poorer in areas where winters are cold.
The fuel blend is a primary reason, but heavy use of power-robbing
accessories such as the heater, wipers, rear defroster and so forth
also have an impact.
Q: When a tire is
mounted, is it put on a wheel or a rim?
ó D.N., Tinley
A: The terms are
pretty much interchangeable.
For instance, we talk
about buying alloy wheels or alloy rims, but if you need to be exact
about it, the rim is the outer circumference of the wheel to which
the tire is mounted. The inner section, with the holes for attaching
it to the car is technically the wheel disk. Wheel and rim are
Q: Your recent column
included a question about heated dipsticks.
This brought back
memories of living in Anchorage, Alaska for two winters. When it got
down to 35 below (before wind chill), I used a bush pilot trick of
draining the oil upon returning home, then heating the oil in the
oven before driving again.
The engine always ran
well, but the wife wasnít happy when she baked next time. I always
enjoy your columns.
ó B.M., Wilmette,
A: I had never heard
of that trick, but I am sure it works. I wonder if a microwave also
would work, or if it would set the oil on fire! To keep the peace at
home, perhaps you should have invested in a crappy used oven to keep
out in the garage for oil heating.
By the way, our
neighbor who has a home in Anchorage just dropped off a fresh
blueberry pie to thank us for plowing her driveway.