Q: I recently bought a 2021 Mazda SUV. It's white, and while that was the color I wanted at the time, now I am not so sure. I am going to keep the vehicle, but I would like it to be a different color. Is it OK to repaint a new car? Would the paint job work, or would there be a problem?
A: Sure, you can paint a new car, but there is an alternative. Get it wrapped. 3M makes a paint wrap film designed to wrap cars and trucks that is not permanent. It won't damage the original paint if you want to remove it and go back to plain vanilla.
Tires fell flat
Q: I had a car several years ago that had run-flat tires. The rear tire had a hole on the inner sidewall that was big enough for me to put all four fingers in — and I have a big hand. But I still was able to drive to the tire shop. What has happened to run-flats?
A: Some of today's cars are equipped with them, but the tires turned out to be better in theory than in the real world. Yes, if you get a hole in one of them, you can drive up to 50 miles, but then you have to buy a new tire. Many motorists have been surprised when they're told the replacement cost — close to $75 over the cost of a normal tire. Plus, tires often need to be replaced in pairs, which doubles the cost. Not many tire dealers stock them these days, so you might have to wait for delivery.
Universal transponder unlikely
Q: Isn't it about time that automobile manufacturers began making toll transponders an integral part of their product placed somewhere on the vehicle other than the windshield? It seems that a generic transponder could be programmed to be compatible with most, if not all, toll collection systems.
A: I like the idea, and maybe that day may come. But not all systems use the same hardware. Plus, the toll road or toll lane authorities need to know about the vehicle to which the transponder is registered. Each transponder has an identification number stored in its circuitry, so violators who borrow (or steal) someone else's transponder can be identified.
Nothing to spare
Q: I recently read your recommendation that since most tires are flattened by punctures and not sidewall damage that the need for a spare is low. If you get a flat and have no spare, what difference does it make whether it was caused by a puncture or sidewall damage? Stranded is stranded.
A: The letter you're referencing was from someone wondering why his new car came with a portable compressor rather than a spare tire. I responded that in most cases — meaning a puncture — a compressor would suffice to get the car to a shop. But I'm not a big fan of getting stranded, either, which is why I also recommended that the writer sign up with a road service provider.
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 email@example.com.