Q: I just
endured a drive of 2 1/2 hours for an 11-mile commute due to nasty
ice that formed on the pavement after a measly 2-inch snowfall.
Nearly one hour was spent watching three different electric or
hybrid subcompact cars with high-mileage tires try to make it up a
hill. All kept trying and all failed. Each had to eventually slide
down the hill to take another route. Would you do all snow belt
cities a huge favor and let people with high-mileage tires know they
really, really need a set of snow tires for the winter?
A: Life is
full of compromises. Want good cornering and performance? Give up
some tread life. Want efficiency and fuel economy? Give up winter
traction. "As a group, electric and hybrid vehicles are by
design hyperfocused on efficiency, and anecdotally their original
equipment tires bring along the largest trade-offs in traction and
wear life. But they are not alone. Many vehicle manufacturers are
making real gains in efficiency with their fossil fuel-powered
vehicles. The tire is doing its part in this equation, too, and I
expect to see a growing number of these vehicles struggling to get
up that icy hill on their OEM tires too. In the end, we all benefit
if we all have better traction in wintertime. Better traffic flow,
fewer accidents, less stress while driving. Letís hope more people
find their way to good winter tires," says Woody Rogers,
director of tire information at Tire Rack.
Q: I have a
1999 Toyota 4Runner. If I leave the car sitting idle for four to
five days, the battery will be drained so much that it will not turn
over the motor. Charging for a while makes it work again until it
sits for a length of time. In leaving the car idle for three months,
I disconnected the wires from the battery and when I hooked it up
again, it started the car. I am assuming that something in the motor
is draining the battery.
A: It is not
the motor, but the array of electronics in the vehicle. Many of them
draw some current to keep them alive even when you switch off the
key (or press the off button). If your battery is old and getting
weak, it may not be able to keep up.
C.W. of Chicago asked about a solution for not having heated seats
in a Honda Fit. Menards sells an electric heated vehicle seat
cushion that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the vehicle. Iíve
used it for years and it works great. I also gave them to my
children and they loved them. They sell for approximately $15.00. A
nice easy and cheap solution.
A: Thanks for
the tip and reminder. Seat-top heater cushions are available from
many sources, including Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon and
more. We forgot that we still have one we bought years ago that even
has three-position massagers and a 110 VAC adapter so that I may use
it on my office chair.