Q: I have a
suggestion, not a question. I have evergreen trees hanging over my
driveway and the tree sap on the vehicle is hard to remove. I tried
a variety of products and had little success. But what seems to work
is Off! insect repellent in the orange spray can. Spray it on, wait
a few seconds and wipe it off. Then clean with soap and water. It
doesn’t seem to harm the paint.
A: Maybe the
SC Johnson company should begin marketing it as Sap-Off. We are
going to file this tip along with the ones suggesting toothpaste to
clean discolored headlight lenses.
Q: Let’s say
I need to slam on the brakes but the pedal won’t work, so I quick
pull back hard on the hand brake … what happens? Which wheels
brake? Do the wheels lock and the car skids? Will the car be brought
to a rapid, safe stop?
A: The rear
wheels will lock up and the car will go into a spin. It is known as
a bootleg turn or handbrake turn and competition drivers use it to
their advantage, knowing precisely when to release the hand brake
and accelerate. It is a quick way to make a 180-degree turn in a
small area. Do not try this at home!
Q: I have a
2010 Mazda3 hatch with an "auto-manual" transaxle.
Normally I use "D" and let the car select its own gear
settings. Once in a while when approaching a suburban stoplight at
30-35 mph, I switch to "M" (manual) and flick the lever to
physically downshift to 3rd then to 2nd gear and have the engine
slow the car for four or five seconds before using the brakes. The
owner’s book says that the system will prevent me from taking this
action if the engine or vehicle speed is too high to be done safely.
What’s the trade-off on engine wear and fuel economy vs. brake pad
life (or any other considerations) between the two methods?
A: This is a
feature becoming more common on many cars and some even have paddle
shifters on the steering wheel to make shifting more convenient.
Similar systems are the norm for Formula 1 racing, making shifts
much faster than a human can with leg and arm. But race cars have
manual gearboxes plus a single- or dual-disc clutch. Your car has a
fully automatic transmission and all you are doing is activating the
shift solenoids instead of allowing the computer to do so. You won’t
hurt or help anything and, as you noted, the computer will not allow
the shift if the engine speed is not correct. So, go ahead and have
Q: I recently
had to replace an A/C blower in my 2015 Subaru Outback. The
dealership said my cabin filter needed to be replaced. I replaced
it; it was a charcoal cabin filter, which may have appeared dirty to
the technician. Is it worth the extra money to buy a cabin filter
— R.S., Glen
A: We prefer
the activated charcoal filters. Not only do they filter particulates
such as dust and pollen, they trap many exhaust fumes and other
objectionable outside odors.