Q: I have a 2009
Dodge Caravan. The right rear brake light is not working. Turn
signal light is not working. Flasher light is not working. The
taillight is the only thing working. The right blinker arrow in the
dash blinks fast. I changed the bulb, but that did not fix it. What
is the next step before seeking professional help?
— D.C., Chesterton,
A: Your vehicle uses
a dual filament bulb. One filament glows for taillights, the other,
brighter one is activated for the brake and turn signal lights. The
rapidly blinking turn signal arrow is the way of letting you know
that there is a bulb out. But since you replaced the bulb, chances
are there is a problem with the socket, the connection or the
wiring. You may have to turn to a pro.
Q: Why do higher-end
manufacturers provide drilled brake rotors (particularly on
performance cars)? I’ve asked dealership personnel, and typically
I get a non-answer. I’m of the opinion that slotted rotors do a
better job of relieving any built-up gas pressure. Certainly there
is a cost involved over nondrilled rotors. Your thoughts?
— R.R., Lisle, Ill.
A: Most people think
that the drilled holes or slots in brake rotors are there to cool
them under heavy braking. While this is not wrong, there is a better
reason. Under heavy braking, the friction material on the brake pads
may become hot enough to smoke, so you are right about relieving gas
pressure. The holes and slots carry the smoke from between the pads
and rotors for improved braking performance.
Q: I recently
purchased a Cadillac XT4 with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder
engine. The owner’s manual states to use premium fuel. I spoke
with the dealership about using regular grade gas and was told that
by not using premium, the mileage per gallon could be reduced and
might also cause engine ping. I don’t want to use high-grade gas
if it’s not necessary. What is your advice?
A: Your Caddy will
get better mileage with the higher octane fuel than a lower octane
fuel. That is because, should ping be detected by the knock sensor
in its engine, the engine control module will back off the ignition
timing until the knock stops. Since your engine is getting de-tuned,
your mileage will suffer.
Q: After the EPC
light came on in my 2013 VW Jetta, I heard of others having the same
issue. So far, whoever I spoke to, as a consumer, has no idea what
EPC is. Can you please review?
— A.C., Delray
A: EPC stands for
Electronic Power Control. If the EPC light illuminates, there is
probably a problem with one of the vehicle’s sensors, such as the
throttle position sensor, brake lights sensor or any of myriad
others. If it comes on, take your vehicle in for repair. If it is on
and blinking, take it in right away.
Q: Following up on
your column about highway signs, here’s another catchy warning
phrase that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has posted on
signs over our freeways: “Not wearing a seat belt? What’s
holding you back?”
— R.C., Minneapolis
A: Love it. I invite
my readers to submit clever signs they have seen, and we will run
some from time to time. We could all use a few more smiles to go
with the miles.