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

 
 

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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