What happens when motorists don’t have a spare tire?

Q. Recently I had a tire blow-out on the highway. I pulled over safely, and called AAA. The tow truck came out and installed the temporary tire on our 2003 Chevy Impala and we were on our way. The tire was way beyond repair; my question is what happens to these motorists that only have spare tire kits and no actual spare tire?

A. I personally believe that the elimination of spare tires is a mistake. Your example of a flat tire beyond repair is a good one, since the only solution is to get the car towed (perhaps twice-once home and then again to a tire store) and buy a new tire. Readers what do you think of cars without spare tires or cars with DIY tire repair kits. Email me: jpaul@aaasne.com

Q. I have a 1998 GMC Sonoma pickup with 70,000 mi on it; the truck is a four-cylinder, two-wheel drive model with an extended cab. I just had the driveshaft bearing replaced. Before this the truck ran smooth at all speeds. Now when going from 30 mph to 40 mph it does not run smooth (sort of a pulsating condition that seems to go away after 40 mph). The front end was aligned and the tires are fairly new and recently balanced. The mechanic changed the bearing on three different occasions and still there is the same vibration. What do you think could be wrong? 

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A. It is possible that the driveshaft is out of “phase-alignment”. In most cases this kind of vibration can be cured by rotating the driveshaft first 90 and then 180 degrees and re-installing it. If this doesn’t cure the problem then balancing the driveshaft may solve the vibration issue. This can be accomplished with a little time and two large radiator hose clamps. The clamps work as adjustable weights. A technician will move the clamps around the drive shaft until the vibration is acceptable. Now of course this will only work if the original repair/installation was performed correctly.  

Q. I have a 2007 Hyundai Sonata. Recently the center brake light stopped working. I tried to look up the procedure for changing the bulb in the cars owner’s manual but could find no instructions. I looked in the trunk and could not find the way to change the bulb. I had my oil changed and asked the technician if he would change the bulb. He told me I would have to take the car to a dealer to have it changed. Can you tell me why an average person can't change the bulb? I'm sure if I take it to a dealer they will charge an inflated price for the job.

A. Hyundai didn’t make this simple maintenance item easy. You need to start with removal of the package shelf. There are five screws, several clips and a little pushing and tugging to pull out the shelf. Once the shelf is out you will be able to remove the bulb. The flat rate time to replace this bulb is only three tenths of an hour, although I would estimate at least an hour to complete the job for a first timer. The bulb is less than $3.00.

Q. I purchased a 2011 IS 350 Lexus several months ago and had no problems until I had the oil changed.  On that very day, I have received a shock from what seems to be the seat belt at my front snap on my jeans. I took it to Lexus dealership and they checked over everything they knew and could find no problems. This shock has happened now a total of 8 times, it is more often when I am wearing a belt. I know what a static shock is like and I don’t believe that it is from static electricity. Have you ever heard of this type of problem?

A. I still believe this is some sort of static shock caused by the seatbelt retracting. Since there is no method that low voltage-high amperage electricity produced by the car can travel over the seatbelt material. As a test, spray the seat belt webbing with anti-static spray. If you don’t notice a shock, then it is static build-up from the belt retractor mechanism. Readers have you ever had this problem?