Motormouth: ‘lamebrain questions’ and monthly car maintenance

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

November 19, 2018

Q: I am amazed at some of the lamebrain questions you get, and then you proceed to answer them. That says nothing about you but the ignorant state of the motoring public. Auto companies have designed it so we don’t want to open the hood and when we do we can’t figure anything out because it’s all hidden. I took my car in recently for an oil change at the dealer. The guy in the shop came back with the air and cabin filters and said they needed changing for $90. I said no. He was astounded! Then went to my local parts store and got both for $30. We need to take our autos and our country back.

— S.R., Chicago

A: It would appear that the days of the do-it-yourselfer are numbered. Consider the trends. Oil change intervals are growing longer. Exhaust systems last nearly forever. (Midas does not even mention that it was once a muffler shop.) Transmission fluids are expected to last the life of the car. For years, carmakers have mumbled about sealed hoods. That day may be closer than you think. We need not take our country back to the days of monthly car maintenance.

Q: I have a 2006 Saturn VUE. No magnets stick to the sides of it. I can stick magnets to the rear hatch and under the hood but nothing to the doors or side panels. What is my car made of?

— J.P., Boston

A: Plastic. At least the body panels are plastic, not the entire car. It’s almost like owning a Corvette.