Reader questions: Tires, mileage and cabin odorWritten by Nick Shultz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some recent reader questions:
Jim C. from Toledo wanted to know why his replacement tires wore out in 35,000 miles, while his original-equipment tires lasted nearly 55,000 miles. Well, Jim, I don’t have ESP, but I would guess your vehicle is out of alignment or you ran them for a long time with improper air pressure. Just because your vehicle doesn’t pull from one side or the other doesn’t mean it is in alignment. Monitoring your tire-wear patterns can be a telltale sign of an alignment-related problem even if you don’t feel a pull. Have your alignment checked at a reputable shop.
Winfield S. from whereabouts unknown wanted to know how to tell if the fuel he is purchasing is of high quality. Well, Winfield, that’s a great question and it deserves a thoughtful answer. I could tell you that two government agencies here in Ohio, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio EPA have set fuel quality standards and are responsible for ensuring that those standards are met, so we have nothing to worry about. However, another government agency is telling me all the money that they have been taking out of my paychecks for years will run out in 2017 (read the fine print on this year’s Social Security statement), so I don’t have much faith in that either the state or federal EPA administration offices are keeping close tabs on the actual quality of fuel coming from the pumps. So how can we really know if the fuel were buying is any good? Its all about our vehicle’s fuel mileage. Keep a close eye on your vehicle’s actual fuel mileage every time you fill up. Assuming your car is in a good state of repair, you should get nearly the same fuel mileage from one tank to the next. Once you find a fuel that your vehicle seems to like, stick with it! Poor fuel mileage from a certain fuel brand, or gas station, is a good indication that the fuel has less energy stored within it or that it may be contaminated in some way. Steer clear of any fuel that doesn’t deliver close to your average overall fuel mileage. I have found that Sunoco fuel works well in my bike, while BP works best in my car. I buy 93 Octane for my bike and 87 Octane for my car. Your vehicle may like a different brand.
Keeping track of your fuel mileage is a great way to tell if something is amiss with your engine as well. If your fuel mileage drops suddenly, look for the root cause of the problem. Failure to seek out the problem will only cause the problem to find you. Chances are it will cost you more to wait for that to happen.
My last question for this week comes from Amy T., who lives in the west end. Amy has an odor coming from her air conditioning ducts whenever the a/c is operated. Amy, you probably have a mildew situation within your a/c system’s evaporator core. You can try one of the many products designed to kill the mildew which are available from your local parts store.
Just ask the person behind the counter for help, and they will show you what products they have. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. If the deodorizer off the shelf doesn’t work, then it will be necessary to have a service technician address this situation. Not to worry, Amy, this happens all the time; usually there is an easy fix.
Be sure and check your car’s air and cabin filters regularly. The air on these hot days is filled with dust and dirt that can rapidly decrease your filter’s efficiency. Also be aware that your lawn mower’s air filter becomes restricted much quicker than any other piece of equipment you own.
I enjoy taking your questions and I apologize for not answering them sooner. Keep reading and I assure you I will get to them as fast as I can.
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Shultz, a Toledo native, will take questions from email@example.com.