Q. My wife tells me that after driving her 2010 Kia Optima, when she takes the key out of the ignition, it’s often hot to the touch. The car is still under warranty and only has 29,000 on it, is this a problem?

A. I have checked Kia’s website and there are no technical service bulletins that describe this problem. Checking online, this does come up in Kia forums as an issue. I suspect the issue is from heat transfer between the ignition switch and the ignition lock. At this point, I would ask the dealer to at least address the issue so you will have documentation if the ignition fails outside of the warranty.

Q. I have a gas mileage question on my 2011 Mazda 6. I do a lot of local driving but live in a small city, so I am never in stop and go traffic or idling at lights. I get 14.5mpg/local driving and 17.2/highway. The literature that came with the car promised more.  The dealer says it is because I do so much local driving, but still, the estimate on purchase was that I would get 18 MPG city and 27 MPG highway with the expected range for most drivers to be 14 – 22MPG city and 22 – 32MPG highway. I have 2 questions for you; have you heard this complaint before and am I expecting too much to think the mileage should be better? 

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A. If the car is operating properly, you the driver have the biggest impact on fuel economy. It is entirely possible that the 14.5 MPG is reasonable based on your driving habits. At this point, I would ask the dealer to perform a fuel economy test and see what the actual fuel economy numbers look like. Low tire pressure, extended warm-up times, and cold weather driving can all have an effect on fuel economy. Regarding the literature that came with the car promising better high fuel economy, those numbers are under ideal conditions.

Q. My 1997 Acura Integra has had a problem for a week or so; I was driving my car in second gear and I heard a slight grinding noise. I drove it around and it didn’t grind again for five days. It did it again twice over the weekend. I’ve searched and found very little information, any thoughts?

A. A worn bearing in the transmission is possible as well as a worn inner constant velocity joint in one of the axles. With some cars, I have even seen a worn engine mount cause an intermittent grinding noise. At this point, you need to demonstrate the noise to a technician familiar with this car.

Q. As I look to buy oil filters, there are about 200 different types on the shelf. As long as the oil filter threads mate and the rubber seal fits, is there any down side to picking a different filter?   I would assume the back pressure on most filters would be about the same.  

A. When buying oil filters, look for a filter that meets or exceeds manufacturers’ standards. Many oil filter suppliers actually make oil filters for the vehicle manufacturers. Certainly there are some substandard oil filters that could be a problem, including filters with substandard filter mediums and poorly designed anti-drain back valves. My suggestion would be to use factory or name brand filters. I recently interviewed Jay Buckley from FRAM; he helps explain the differences in oil filters. http://johnfpaul.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-22T12_16_46-07_00