Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing talks tires and oil, and why specificity matters

Don't ever let your car run low on oil.

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On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Bill writes: What is your recommendation for replacing the tires on my tandem axle ATV/bike trailer? How do I know what tires to use and when to do it?

Mike Herzing: That's a great question, and here's what I would recommend and why. Passenger car tires are built a little differently than trailer tires. The former have flexible sidewalls for a better ride and tread mileage, whereas the latter are much heavier duty with stiffer sidewalls for heavier loads. These same stiff sidewalls will also prevent trailer sway issues that would appear with softer sidewalls. If you pulled two identical trailers with both types of tires, you would immediately notice a difference. So go with trailer-specific tires.

Duggan writes: I have a 2019 Honda Accord that uses a quart of oil every 1,200 miles. It has 31,000 miles on it total. My dealer has done an oil consumption test and tells me that it is within the factory allowable limits. Is there anything I can do? Why does this happen?

MH: Engines have many moving parts. Sometimes an engine has several components that may be at one end of their serviceable limit, and added together the result is oil consumption — but the dealer would have a real issue finding the exact problem. I would appeal to the factory rep to take another look at it under the Goodwill Warranty. In the meantime, do not let it run low on oil. In 5,000 miles, your engine would be more than four quarts low on oil, causing damage. If you damage your engine by running it low on oil, your warranty will not pay for repairs. So check your oil often until you get your problem resolved.

Bryce writes: I just bought a 2012 Nissan Frontier with a 4 cylinder. The engine oil light comes on after you drive for a few minutes. The oil looked like black mud, and so does the inside of the engine, but it doesn't make any knocking or tapping sounds. I got it cheap, but not cheap enough to buy a new engine. What should I do?

MH: It sounds like your oil pump pickup screen is clogged. It will look like the screen on your windows at home, just oilier. The best thing to do is to remove the oil pan and clean the oil pump screen. To keep it from happening again, I'd pull the valve covers and clean everything you can from there, and then clean as much as possible from the oil pan and bearing journals. If you are thinking of talking the easy way out by using an engine flush, they usually just make it worse, so don't bother. This isn't a difficult job to do, just really messy. Good luck!

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Now's the time to buy.

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On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Daphne writes: I heard you mention last week that new car deals are terrific right now. I am in the market for a new compact hatchback or SUV for commuting 60 miles a day in traffic. Since you always say there are no bad cars on the market these days, what would you choose if you had a budget of $20,000?

Mike Herzing: Indeed, new car deals with zero percent financing, rebates, and even deferred payments have been announced by several dealerships. My first pick would be the Hyundai Kona (priced from $20,300) followed by the Jeep Renegade, (priced from $22,375) and the Mazda CX30 (priced from $21,300).

My next choices would be the Nissan Kicks (from $18,870) and, finally, the Hyundai Venue (from $17,350). These prices are list prices. It's important to remember that dealerships are in the business of making deals. Also, to curb the spread of COVID-19, many dealers are selling cars without physical contact with the customer. This service includes delivering your new vehicle free of charge.

Les writes: I just bought a 2020 Wrangler and love it! But when should I change the oil? I have heard people saying 3,000 miles and also those saying 7,000. I live in Dacula, Georgia, outside of Atlanta and my mileage is mostly highway and some off-roading.

MH: If it were mine, I would change the oil at 5,000 miles and use at least a synthetic blend oil. Using a full synthetic would be even better. You'll also want to take that opportunity to rotate the tires at the same time.

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler owner's manual says to change your oil every 3,500-4,000 miles and no less than once every 12 months. The change oil message will illuminate when it's been 3,500 miles since your last oil change.

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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Taillights that don't work can be a sign of a larger issue.

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On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Trevor writes: I have a 2008 GMC Yukon that has a taillight out. I replaced the bulb, and it didn't help. The fuses are ok. What is the next step?

Mike Herzing: Your Yukon, like many newer vehicles, has a taillight circuit board that the bulbs and wiring harness plug into. Vibration, moisture, and age sometimes cause the circuit board to fail. If you replace a brake or taillight bulb and it still doesn't work, this is where I would look first. Luckily, they are usually less than $15 and are relatively easy to replace.

Ed writes: I have a 2004 Subaru WRX-STI, and I love it. I am the original owner, and it is in pristine condition. Do you think this is a future classic?

MH: It is absolutely a future classic, so hold onto it. The STI (which stands for Subaru Technica International) models are great to drive. Keeping it stock (no modifications) may add value. If you do make any changes such as wheels or exhaust, keep your stock parts! That is very important to a collector to be all original.

Liam writes: I own a 2010 Chevy Colorado (and I'm in Colorado), which has what my shop calls an "intermittent no start." When it does this, I can go back later (or have it towed in), and it starts wonderfully! The problem is that it runs fine for days or weeks until it does it again. It has been tuned up and also had a new fuel pump put in last year.

MH: While I am not there to diagnose the problem, let me give you my best guess. GM used an anti-theft feature called Passlock for several years. Passlock utilizes a special lock cylinder that stops the engine from getting fuel (and running) until the proper chipped key is detected. Sometimes, the Passlock feature activates without any reason, making you sit and wait out a 10-minute delay. I have many friends that have gone on YouTube and found the exact procedure to bypass the system.

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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