Q: My 2011 Kia
Sportage is trying to freeze me to death. When I first start out on
a chilly day, the heater blows warm air as soon as the engine warms
up, as expected. However, after driving for maybe 30 minutes, I no
longer get warm air no matter how high I set the temperature or
blower fan. The local dealer is baffled. My feet are numb. Any
— E.D., Minnetonka,
A: Heating issues are
often caused by a malfunctioning thermostat. It isn’t like the
thermostat on the wall in your house. It is in the car’s cooling
system and prevents the water (coolant) from flowing through the
radiator until the engine reaches operating temperature. Then, the
thermostat opens, allowing the coolant to flow through the entire
system, including the heater core inside the car. The thermostat
then dithers to maintain the proper temperature. If it gets lazy or
stuck, you won’t get proper heating or, for that matter, cooling.
Q: Is it OK to add my
leftover oil and gas mixture (50:1) from my outboard motor and
string trimmer to my car’s gas tank?
— M.K., Chicago
A: It is rarely a
problem as long as you are only adding a little fuel mix to a full,
or nearly full, gas tank.
Q: Do premium fuels
contain more detergents and other additives than regular? My little
Ford Fiesta obviously doesn’t need the higher octane, but it gets
“heavy duty” use for short distances in dense urban traffic.
Would extra additives benefit my car? Because I get gas only every
10 weeks, the extra cost of premium would mean nothing to me.
— W.R., Chicago
A: Nope. The major
difference between the various gasoline grades is the octane rating.
The additive package is usually the same across the board. To get
the gas with the highest dose of additives, look for retailers who
sell Top Tier gasoline. It contains more additives than the basic
EPA minimum. Stop-and-go traffic does not constitute heavy use.
Q: I have a 2006
Buick Lucerne with 54,000 miles. Yes, I mostly drive it to church
and back with an occasional highway trip. I had a motor mount
replaced last April and since then have experienced a very
noticeable vibration in the steering wheel. I have taken the car
back to the repair shop three times and the mechanic, who has been
very reliable, cannot find a cause. Please, if you have any ideas I
would really appreciate hearing from you.
— L.L., Chicago
A: Vibration in the
steering wheel is usually caused by wheel imbalance. Chances are,
the wheels were removed to do the motor mount job. If a wheel weight
was accidentally lost, that could be the cause. Another possibility
is that the wheels were installed in a different position of clock
location than they were before. Finally, in some cases, the engine
cradle may be out of alignment after the motor mount job was done.