Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing answers questions about motorhomes, stock parts, and ASE Certified Techs

Travel trailers and RVs have a lot of similarities. Mike Herzing has some advice to help you decide which to choose.

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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.

Christopher writes: I'm retiring in 187 days. (who's counting?) and I want to travel and take my wife and two German Shepherds with me. Should I get a 24-30-foot travel trailer and an HD truck? Or get a Class C motorhome and tow my Jeep behind it?

Mike Herzing: What a great adventure, congratulations! I have traveled with both a class A motorhome and also a travel trailer, so I know what I would choose. The motorhome is excellent when you are actually on the road. You can pull over in a roadside park and have dinner, then continue, whereas a travel trailer requires time to set up. And the dogs would have the run of the place and not have to be kenneled or stuck in the back seat. You can't do this with a travel trailer. However, once you get parked, the travel trailer has an advantage: more useable space.

The best way to decide is by recognizing what type of traveling you are going to do. If you are going to park somewhere for weeks or months at a time, then the travel trailer and HD truck is the way to go. Plus it gives you a vehicle to drive when you aren't traveling. If you are going to be always on the go, then a motorhome and a dingy is best.

Carlton writes: I have a 2015 Ford SuperDuty with 115,000 miles. Now I want to trade it in and the dealer won't take it because it is missing parts like the stock exhaust and diesel filter. I foolishly threw the stock parts away. Where can I find the parts to put it back to stock?

MH: Because many drivers want more diesel performance, I have seen this problem a few times. The dealer can't sell a vehicle that is not emissions legal, and actually, an individual can't sell one either. Most states have emissions laws that say if you buy a car and it isn't emissions legal, you may be able to bring it back. So once you find out what you are missing, I'd visit a few salvage yards to find the parts. To replace the entire system with new parts could cost $10,000 or more. The moral of the story is to save all your stock parts when you are installing aftermarket parts — never know when you might need them.

Charlene writes: You always talk about finding a shop that employs Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technicians. Does the ASE teach them what to do? Why do you consider this important? If a mechanic doesn't have this certification, should we not trust them?

MH: First of all, ASE only provides testing and subsequent certifications for technicians that pass its exams. To become an ASE Master Technician, you must pass tests covering eight areas: engine repair, automatic transmission/transaxle, manual transmission, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, heating and air conditioning, and engine performance. There are several other certifications available for diesel engines and HD trucks, but let's concentrate on these.

Being a professional automobile technician requires a huge investment in tools (over $100,000) and ongoing training. Sure, there are plenty of good techs out there that aren't certified. However, the true professional technician will take the time to get the certifications to show his dedication to the craft. Modern cars contain over 70 processors and over 50,000 parts. Techs nowadays are more computer techs than auto techs, and many make over $125,000 a year. A shop with the ASE sign out front is working to raise the level of professionalism in the industry, something that is sorely needed.

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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