Q: I hit a new traffic paint line and got a boatload of paint under my wheel wells. Not just spatter, but caked-on paint about ⅛ inch thick. I tried Goof Off paint remover and regular paint and varnish remover for wood and plastics. Neither one did anything. Any ideas?
A: It sounds like you didn't just hit some wet paint, you drove a mile on that line. For the fender liners, the easiest solution is to spray them with black paint. To remove paint from body panels, a professional body shop tech we asked suggested soaking them with automotive adhesive remover (available at most parts stores) to soften the paint. Be patient. Scrape off the paint using a plastic tool like the kind used to apply body putty.
Q: I am getting a new car. I've been searching the internet with no success for reports of the decibel level inside the cabins of SUVs. In particular, I am interested in the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, Honda CRV Touring and the Buick Envision. Is there a way to determine the quietest vehicles?
A: You need a decibel meter that measures A-weighted decibels, abbreviated dBA, an expression of the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by our ears. You can spend anywhere from $20 up for a meter, but that seems wasteful if you don't expect to need one after this. There are free apps you can download to your smartphone before you test drive the cars.
Q: A shut-in senior friend for whom I've been doing errands for years at no cost to her (except for out-of-pocket expenses, including automotive ones), has complained that I am cheating her when I contend that automotive expenses include more than gas. She balked when I explained that such expenses include not only oil changes and other routine liquid checks, but also front end suspension spring replacements and undercarriage body work so that the car doesn't collapse from rusting through (not to mention air conditioning and heating, both of which died years ago, plus a badly needed new/used set of tires). Can you offer a realistic estimate of the cost of operating my car on a per-mile basis?
A: I use my car for business and always have ascribed to the Internal Revenue Service allowance. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the standard mileage rate is 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (down from 58 cents in 2019). This accounts for fuel, maintenance, insurance, wear and tear and so on.
A key factor
Q: A number of years ago, the key for my Mercury Marquis' factory wheel locks went missing. I called the dealer's parts counter and was referred to the locks' customer service. They required a sharp close-up e-mailed picture of the lug lock, plus $35 for a matching socket. That solved the problem. I hope this helps your readers.
A: Good advice. Thank you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.