Q: I have a 2008 Honda Civic that I have driven once a week for the past five years. Will the life of the battery be extended by the limited use, or is the determining factor the actual age of the battery? Is there a more relevant factor?

A: A car battery typically lasts three to five years. Lack of use won't save the battery, just like it won't save batteries in a flashlight you haven't used. Extreme cold in the winter and heat in the summer take a toll. If the battery terminals are corroded, the charging system may not be able to provide the voltage the battery needs. Finally, leaving your lights on can kill the battery. Repeated deep cycling — discharging and then recharging again — shortens battery life.

Q: My 2004 Nissan 350Z roadster convertible top stops and starts many times when I'm trying to put the top down. The dealer proposed a fix that costs several thousand dollars. Is this a common problem? Is there a fix that I can do myself?

A: Take your car to a shop that specializes in convertibles. They have seen it all and can often offer a much less expensive fix. It might be as simple as a poor electrical connection, weak lift cylinders, low fluid or a bad pump. It seems like the dealer wants to replace everything. I doubt there is much you can fix yourself.

Q: I have a 2021 Chevy Colorado V6 with about 14,000 miles on it. The check engine light comes on intermittently while driving, but never when it's being serviced. The mechanic is unable to verify any problem and tells me that unless it's blinking, not to worry about it. It unnerves me to see it on. Any suggestions?

A: Whenever the check engine light comes on, it is reporting a problem and stores a trouble code in the car's computer. The code remains there for 50 engine restarts. If the problem doesn't return, the code is erased from memory. It's time to find a better auto technician who has the equipment to read the codes and track down the source of the problem.


Q: Pep Boys wanted to charge me $188 to install the rear lift gate struts that I had already purchased for my old (2008) but very sturdy Volvo XC90. I declined and looked on YouTube and did it myself in about one minute with a 2x4 for a prop.

A: That's the difference between home cooking and dining at a restaurant.

Take the Pledge

Q: An easy way to remove the annoying film that builds up on the interior glass is to use good, old Lemon Pledge applied with a microfiber cloth. It may take a few passes, but it comes off. An old mechanic told me about Lemon Pledge years ago, and it can also be used on any nonporous surface in your car interior.

A: I'll give it a try.

Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.