Q: I am from the era when cars still had carburetors and was told that to avoid problems with my parking brake I need to use it — use it or lose it. I got into the habit. I park my 2012 Chevy Malibu on a slight incline. A couple of times, I forgot to release the brake before I started down the driveway and my Malibu would make a warning ding. At my next oil change I questioned the Chevy dealer and they said they would check it. Lo and behold, they tell me that I need to have both rear brake calipers replaced for $718. My husband got mad at me for using my parking brake every day. Help!
M.C., Fleetwood, Pa.
A: Parking brakes are just that. They hold the car in place when parked. They are not strong enough to overtake the engine. That's why it's called a parking brake not an emergency brake. It is common to be able to back up with the brake applied. You practice what we preach: Use the parking brake every time to prevent the cables from corroding. We suggest you get a second opinion about the need for new calipers.
Q: I recently visited the gas station to fill my car. I unscrewed the cap as usual and began to pump in the gas. When I pulled the nozzle out, the metal flap that covers the interior hole broke off and went into the neck of the tank. Now it takes three to four times as long to fill the tank because the pump continually cuts off. Could the piece of metal be partially blocking the neck of the gas tank? What should I do?
N.G., Margate, Fla.
A: The tab, which is there to prevent siphoning, is likely stuck in the filler pipe. It may be impossible to fish it out. You probably need to have the pipe replaced.
Q: We have a 2000 Toyota Camry with 123,000 miles on it. We noticed a noise from the upper front end when we go over speed bumps. The mechanic said it needs new struts for $800. We plan to get another car in about a month. Is it OK to drive the car until then?
D.B, Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Q: What was the first car recalled and why?
R.K., Crystal Lake, Ill.
A: We didn't know, so we turned to the internet and found a citation from the Mashaw and Harfst book "The Struggle for Auto Safety." The car was a 1959 Cadillac. The Pitman arm, which is part of the steering linkage, was often failing.
Q: I have a 2008 Chevy Trailblazer. When I turn on the windshield wiper and sprayer, the passenger side works, but the driver's side has no spray. Is this an easy fix for me? My wife offered to help me.
B.K., Northfield, Minn.
A: Most likely, the rubber hose that carries the solvent has detached. Operate the washers with the hood open and observe where the water is coming from. You may need to replace the hose if it is leaking. If there are no leaks, see that the hose is not kinked. Employ your wife to operate the switch as you investigate.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician.