Q. I’m a fan of Toyota and Honda cars and am wondering why Toyota and Honda did not build an all-wheel-drive Camry or Accord. I’m happy with my Subaru Legacy, but I would have preferred a Toyota or Honda automobile rather than the SUVs that Honda and Toyota offer.
A. For the most part, vehicle manufacturers build the cars that people want to buy. Many years ago, Toyota built an “all-track” Camry, which sold in such low numbers that Toyota discontinued it. Some other manufacturers have all-wheel-drive sedans, such as Buick, Ford, Audi, BMW, Buick, Mercedes, and Volvo. When the time comes, those vehicles are worth a look.
Q. I’ve read differing opinions and recommendations for cleaning a car engine and engine compartment. I have a 2005 BMW X5 and some warn against steam-cleaning. Some say to use a cleaner and hose it off, and some websites even advise against using any water. I’d appreciate your advice.
A. In my opinion, using high-temperature steam or high-pressure water could lead to problems with today’s sophisticated electronics that are mounted in the engine compartment. A degreaser sprayed on the engine and washed with a garden hose is a safer solution. Also keep in mind that any heavy, oily grime is going to end up on the ground and in storm drains, which is not great for the environment.
Q. I recently took in my 2015 Volvo XC60 for two-year maintenance as covered under my purchase agreement. When I inquired about rotating the tires, the shop told me this was not covered because Volvo feels it’s not necessary to rotate these tires. I would like to get your opinion on this. I’ve never heard of not rotating tires.
A. Although Volvo’s support website does not require tire rotation for the XC60, if you decide to rotate the tires on your Volvo, the automaker recommends the tires be rotated the first time after approximately 3,000 miles and thereafter at 6,000-mile intervals. Studies have also shown that rotating tires will help extend their overall life. If this were my car, I would check the tire periodically and rotate them once per year as necessary.
Q. My brother has a 2017 Honda CRV. He often hears a high-pitched sound from the front of the car when it’s on and sometimes for a short time after he turns it off. He took it to the dealer on a few different occasions, but they don’t hear the noise and can’t identify the source. Any thoughts?
A. Since the dealership hasn’t heard it, it will be just about impossible to find and repair it. Some possibilities are the fuel pump or the air conditioner pressures equalizing. You should take the time to try to document the noise as much as possible. Whenever you hear the noise, you should take notes on the outside temperature, driving time, whether climate-control is on, and the level of fuel in the tank. If you can safely record the sound, that could be helpful as well. The more information you can provide to the dealership, the better the chance of the vehicle getting repaired.
Q. I ordered new license plates from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, and I am wondering if I can use a clear plastic plate cover to help preserve the plate’s appearance. The covers and frames do not obstruct the lettering or design in any way.
A. No glass or plastic covers are permitted over a license plate, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the RMV. Even a clear cover could cut down on the plate’s reflectivity and unintentionally distort the plate.
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