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

 
 

There's an easier way to repair hail damage

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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.

Astrid writes: I have a 2016 Ford Explorer that has hail damage from a recent storm. My Jeep was parked next to it and has no damage. Why is this? Is the metal thinner? What is the best way to have this fixed?

Mike Herzing: The race for better fuel economy had caused car companies to make vehicles as light as possible. Your Explorer has an aluminum hood and other panels to save weight. Unfortunately, aluminum dents easily. Luckily, there is a process called paintless dent repair (PDR) that would work for you. PDR services employ body men with specialized tools and training that allow them to massage out the dents. It is the perfect repair for this type of damage. Best of all, your hood doesn't need to be re-painted. It's also cheaper, so the insurance companies love it.

Bill writes: I want to buy a new SUV, but I remember my father saying to wait a year and let the bugs get worked out. What are the pros and cons of buying a new model?

MH: That used to be the rule, but nowadays, with computer-generated simulations and a lot of road testing, most production and design problems are avoided. However, I still recommend waiting a couple of months to allow the early adopters to buy first. Once the newness wears off — and inventory builds — dealers will be ready to make some deals.

George writes: I have a 2009 Kia Sorento that has been running a little hotter than usual and is losing antifreeze. My shop tells me it has a leaking water pump. Since it has the original hoses, should I replace them even though they aren't leaking?

MH: Since you are already replacing the pump, the labor cost is almost nothing to go ahead and replace the hoses. If you plan to keep the vehicle, I recommend you use OEM parts. The price of the original parts is just a little more than aftermarket parts, and the quality is better. Hey, they lasted 11 years, didn't they?

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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Stay cool this summer.

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Just like humans, cars don't like extreme heat or extreme cold. Since summer is upon us, let's talk about the maintenance you can be doing to avoid a costly breakdown.

Cooling system: One of the most common primary cause of summer breakdowns is overheating caused by a cooling system malfunction. A cooling system that isn't running at peak efficiency cannot keep the engine at the correct operating temperature. Get it flushed every 30,000 miles to ensure everything is moving smoothly.

A note for do-it-yourselfers: The most common coolant type contains ethylene glycol, which according to the EPA is toxic to humans and animals. Because of this it must be disposed of properly, so a flush might be something you should let a professional perform for you. When performing a coolant flush, the technician should also check the condition of the belts, hoses, engine fan, and thermostat. Any of these could cause a problem, so they should be inspected by a trained professional.

Oil: We all know that oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and it also provides cooling for your engine so don't overlook this important element. Replacing the oil at the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) suggested intervals is essential. It is just as important to use the oil weight and grade specified by your OEM (check your owner's manual for the requirements).

Air conditioning: Your car's A/C keeps you cool, but if it's not clean it can cause engine overheating. The A/C condenser is located right in front of the radiator and a dirty condenser can block airflow to it. As a result of emission requirements, newer engines have higher operating temperatures than engines built, say, 20 years ago. Because of this, their cooling systems must be operating at peak performance to provide the durability we have come to expect.

Overall, maintenance is the keyword to remember here. By doing a little upkeep now, your car should be running happily into the fall.

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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