Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing answers questions about trailers, backup cameras, and cleaning your engine

Always check and re-check the hitch.

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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.

Dennis writes: I have a 2014 F150, and I accidentally spilled oil all over the engine when I was adding oil. It is a mess! I have always heard that you shouldn't ever wash an engine because it will cause problems. Is that still true?

Mike Herzing: Like you, I have heard the same thing for years. But keeping your engine and engine compartment clean helps you locate oil leaks and other problems when they first occur.

I wash my engine and engine compartment at least once a year. One important thing is to do it when the engine is cold. I spray the area with a degreaser first, let it sit, and then wash it. You can use a pressure washer on a low setting, but you need to be very careful and not spray the alternator, belt idler bearings, or any electrical connections. To be honest with you, I think it's probably best to just use a garden hose. Once you are finished, use an air nozzle to remove the water that's sitting. Then start the engine and let it dry itself off. Do not close the hood. That causes a condensation problem. Good Luck!

Ronnie writes: I have never towed a trailer before and just bought a small camper. Any special rules or procedures I should develop that have worked for you?

MH: Over the past 50 years, I have towed everything from a motorcycle trailer to a 40-foot flatbed to a 35-foot travel trailer, and I always start out the same way. My "walk around rule" has saved me dozens of times. First, check that all the lights are working by having someone sit in the vehicle and cycle through everything. I always re-check the tire pressure on the tow vehicle and the trailer; this is a big deal, because trailer flats really stink!

Then after checking the hitch, I always re-check it again after driving a block. If you are OCD about this like I am, you will avoid a ton of heartache.

Dean writes: I have a 2013 GMC Yukon and the backup camera screen has become blurry. How do I find out if this is a camera or screen problem? Also, could an accident have caused this problem? I had a small fender bender a few months ago.

MH: I have heard from my GM tech friends that this does happen occasionally. First, use a clean microfiber cloth to make sure the camera lens is clean. Sometimes a sharp impact (like an accident) or slamming the tailgate hard can cause the camera lens to separate. The usual repair is a replacement camera. I'd check with the body shop that did your repairs and see if they think it could be related.

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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