Q: I read the recent item about PDF owner’s manuals with interest. I was in that situation when I bought my 2019 Honda Accord. I wrote to Honda that when I am on the road and find I need to refer to the manual to understand a warning light, I do not want to have to squint at a PDF on my phone to see what’s what. Honda printed out a bound manual for me at no charge.

A: I am not a technophobe, but I, too, prefer hard copies. When recently installing a mesh router, I printed out the manual — double-sided, to save paper, or course. If you don’t want to use up all your paper and ink, another reader suggested sending the owner’s manual PDF to an online print shop. The reader suggested asking for “booklet” size and getting it spiral bound so it stays open.

Babying the battery

Q: My 2016 Lincoln MKC display says “system off to save battery.” I replaced the battery, but the same message appeared. Should I be concerned that this is a software problem?

A: Your car is behaving normally. In order to prevent the battery from discharging to the point that you no longer can start the car, it shuts down nonessential systems. This happens mostly with cars that are not frequently driven, especially in very cold environments. One thing you might want to have checked is the charging system. The battery needs to be at full charge when you shut down the engine.

Mystery ailment

Q: I own a 2006 Cadillac DTS with the Northstar V-8 and 98,000 miles. For the most part, it runs well, and the engine has been serviced only by the dealer. But it has begun to cut off while in drive with no warning and no check engine light. It starts back up and runs perfectly for weeks or months. A mechanic did a diagnostic test, but there were no code errors. What systems should I investigate?

A: Dealers have very sophisticated testing equipment that, in the hands of a well-trained technician, can provide a ton of information. But not every problem sets a trouble code, only those that have something to do with emissions. Intermittent problems are tricky to analyze if the car is running fine when you bring it in. You could try a different dealer, but you might get the same answer.

Good timing

Q: My Toyota Camry Solara has 72,000 miles on it, and I’m concerned about when I should replace the timing belt. I’ve been told in the past that the belt probably won’t last for much longer than 72,000 miles, and if it breaks, it will cause severe (expensive) damage. What are your thoughts on this?

A: The four-cylinder engines have timing chains and the V-6s have belts, so it depends on your engine. For belts, we suggest replacement sometime between 75,000 and 100,000 miles. Timing chains are designed to last the life of the car.

 

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.