Q. I pulled into my favorite gas station today and noticed that the tanker truck was filling the underground tanks. Is it an old wives tale that you should not fill up your car until the sediment has settled sometime after the tanker truck has left, or does it really make no difference?
A. I too would avoid filling my car’s tank when I saw the tanker truck at a gas station. But a knowledgeable source in the petroleum industry has brought me up to date. He feels that at one time there used to be a lot of truth to this tale, but the introduction of ethanol into the gas supply has added a high degree of cleaning solvent. This ethanol has essentially cleaned much of these contaminants from both storage tanks and gas tankers. The only potential problems are any contaminants that remain in delivery barges and very large regional storage tanks. It is possible that these contaminants could make their way into delivery trucks.
Q. I have a 1979 Cadillac Seville with a V-8 engine. It’s my toy; I love it more than life. I take her out Saturday mornings for a nice peaceful drive on the highways for an hour by myself to get away from it all. The car was purchased from the mid-west when it had just 8400 miles on it and it now has 66,000 miles on it and is still in mint condition. The service station where I take the car says that my Caddy does not have a timing belt like some cars but has a chain and it does not need to be replaced. The car purrs like a kitten but I want to make sure that I am not missing anything, is there something I need to replace?
A. Your garage is correct regarding the timing chain. At 33 years old, there are certainly items that could need attention. It sounds like you have a good garage that understands your relationship between you and your car. In addition to the routine oil changes, I would ask the technician at the garage to perform a once a year overall inspection. Think of this inspection as a physical for your car. Catching problems while they are still minor will minimize the chance of breakdowns and help keep repair costs under control.
Q. I don’t see you writing much about diesels, what do you think of these newer models? Years ago, I had one of the General Motors diesels. Although the engine failed, when it ran it had decent power and got great fuel economy.
A. Diesel engines in cars we see today provide very good mileage, excellent performance, and don’t smoke or smell like diesels of even 10 years ago. Recently, I drove a Mercedes Benz ML 350. I drove the car about 25 miles and started it twice before I even realized it was a diesel. During my time with this vehicle, I was averaging about 24 miles per gallon which is about 4 mpg better than the last ML350 with a gasoline engine that I drove.
Q. I own a 2000 BMW 740i and need to replace the fuel tank. It is sweating where the top/bottom seams meet, most likely from salt/sand used to treat the roads. I have been quoted a price of $900 for the part and $600 for labor to replace the tank. I was trying to find a possible used fuel tank but have been cautioned by a mechanic since it wouldn’t include a warranty. I was wondering if you had any advice or better options than spending the $1500 to do this repair.
A. I’m a big believer in using replacement parts from a salvage yard. These used parts can easily be half the cost of a new part. Although, the problem, as I see it, is the age of your car and the area where we live. If your car was newer or you lived outside of the “salt” zone, I would have no problem recommending a used gas tank. A quick look on the internet found a used gas tank for your car costing $450. Considering the cost of labor, I think I would rather replace the tank with a new one rather than take the chance with another 12 year old tank that could have a limited life.
Q. I’m considering replacing my 10 year old Toyota Camry with a new model. I have seen reviews that describe the car as just average. What are your thoughts?
A. I recently drove the latest Camry and found it to be a great car. The interior was improved over the first model that I drove and the overall ride and handling was quite good. The real surprise was with fuel economy and performance. I drove the four cylinder version which develops 173 horsepower (more than enough for most drivers) while still returning 36 miles per gallon on the highway. In combined city and highway driving I averaged close to 30 mpg.