Q: You always say to read the book that spends most of its life in the glove compartment. I do my own basic maintenance on my vehicles and have always relied on the owner’s manual. I recently purchased a 2019 Chrysler 300 from a dealer. The only book in the glove box was a very limited manual. I was told that for the complete manual I would have to download 492 pages off the Internet. Is this how all car manufacturers are dealing with owner’s manuals?
A: It is a bit of a hassle to download manuals from the Internet, but I have grown to prefer them. You can save the file as a PDF, which is easily searchable using key words. Want to know the oil capacity? Enter the word “oil” into the search box and, boom. Save this owner’s manual file on a flash drive and toss it in the glove compartment to partner with the little book.
Q: I am a General Motors trained driver. I know all the little tricks to get good gas mileage, until now. I purchased a 2017 Honda Ridgeline in October of 2019. I cannot get this vehicle to average better than 15.5 to 16.5 miles per gallon in the city. All the things like tire air pressure, clean air filter and a very light foot are taken into account. Any ideas?
B.K., Henderson, Nev.
A: I looked up the EPA estimate, which is 19 miles per gallon for city driving. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary depending on things like local traffic. On the test track, as you know, things are much different. I have driven the GM proving grounds (aka Black Lake) at Milford, Mich., enough to know.
Q: Somehow I missed your story on cleaning windshields. How can I find that? Furthermore, your thought about using dryer sheets for bugs was excellent.
P.T., Woodbury, Minn.
A: Use your favorite search engine and include Tribune and Motormouth in the query. Meanwhile, here is the simple cleaner recipe I have published in previous columns.
2 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dishwashing soap (like Dawn)
By the way, newspaper makes an excellent polishing cloth to prevent streaks. It’s also good to read.
Q: I recently took my 2018 Hyundai Sonata SEL+ to the dealer for routine service. It has about 15,000 miles on it. The technician said my fuel throttle was dirty and recommended a cleaning for about $140. The shop said it is a scheduled maintenance item but I can’t even find the word “throttle” in the whole owner’s manual, let alone in the recommended maintenance schedules. Is there any real need for this work or is it yet another addition to the repair shop’s bottom line?
M.T., Allentown, Pa.
A: A dirty throttle body can affect fuel economy and may contribute to rough idle. But I don’t think a 2-year-old vehicle with such low mileage would need such a service.
Q: I have a 2011 Honda Ridgeline with 78,000 miles. I’m experiencing a cloud of blue smoke on a cold start-up. I checked the oil and it was down about 1.5 quarts. Doing a little research, the advice was about 50/50 as to address the problem, and or live with it. Wondering your thoughts on cause and a possible fix.
C.B., Plymouth, Minn.
A: Blue smoke after the car has been sitting overnight usually indicates worn valve guides of valve guide seals. Although you may live with it, I recommend fixing the problem, if not for yourself, for the rest of the breathing public.
Q: Decades ago, my cousin had a Monte Carlo equipped with a driver’s seat that swiveled to facilitate entry and exit. I thought that was so cool! However, that’s no longer seen, and I’m curious why not?
J.H., Hutto, Texas
A: Swivel seats would be terrible in a crash.