Motormouth: Should brake lights be augmented by deceleration lights?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

August 12, 2019

Q: Being one of those rare drivers who actually takes my foot off the gas if I see a traffic light is red about a quarter- to half-mile ahead, I was wondering your position on an idea Iíve had for a while. Perhaps the taillights should have another section with an amber color that would only come on when a driver takes their foot off the accelerator indicating that the car will be slowing down. This could eliminate a lot of rear-end collisions.

ó S.A., Coral Springs, Florida

A: Thatís kind of a cool idea, but donít expect carmakers or government agencies to jump on it. Additionally, Japanese cars are required to have amber turn signals. It could get confusing. If you are worried about a rear-ender as you coast to the red light, keep an eye on your mirror and tap the brakes. Unless the driver behind you is texting, the red lights should send him or her a message.

Q: In Florida every summer we have love bugs. They cover the front end and windshield. I have found that washing the car as soon as possible with warm water and soap (I use Dawn) will remove a lot of the bugs. Any that are left I spray with Armor All. I leave it on a little while and then wipe it off. For the windshield, I use some sudsy ammonia with water (3 parts water to 1 part ammonia). Make sure the car is in the shade and cool to the touch.

ó J.D., Pembroke Pines, Florida

A: It seems you have a good formula (or two) for bug removal. I have had good luck using moistened dryer sheets, usually after they have been used for clothes. Be advised that using dishwashing soap will remove any wax you may have applied to your paint.

Q: I have carelessly caused some scratches on the finish of my leased 2017 Mazda CX5. Can I use a polishing compound on these to make them look better? Am I doomed to use the body shop instead?

ó H.G., Bourbonnais, Illinois

A: Most scratches go no deeper than the clear coat over the colored paint. There are two quick ways to tell. Slide your fingernail across the scratch. If it doesnít catch, the damage is only in the clear coat. The second is to spray the scratch with soapy water and wipe off. If the scratch disappears but returns when completely dry, the damage is only in the clear coat.

Auto parts stores carry a variety of scratch repair products from companies such as Meguiarís and Turtle Wax for the do-it-yourselfer. The more expensive option is to use a detail shop or body shop, but the cost is still less than a paint job. By the way, check with your lessor, who may accept run-of-the-mill scratches as normal wear and tear.

Q: The sway bar serves an important purpose. However, it is the inside wheel that tends to lift in a sharp corner as a result of the physical forces acting upon the car, not the outside corner.

ó D.M., New Lenox, Illinois

A: Thanks, D.M., Several alert readers spotted my mistake. I must have been breathing too much exhaust that day. It is the unloaded inner wheel that tends to lift when cornering.