Q: We spend a couple of months in Tucson, Ariz., in the winter and this year we want to ship our car. Very complicated process with carriers, shippers, middlemen, etc. I thought you may have some insight on this.
N.B., Glenview, Ill.
A: There is an easier way. As automotive journalists know, there are companies that move vehicles using human drivers to shuttle vehicles from one writer to another. Quite often, they hire retirees to do the driving. For a fee that often includes expenses and return travel fare, someone will drive your car to Tucson. You could even fill the vehicle with your stuff. CNBC did a good story on this subject. Visit: tinyurl.com/y7rj9pza
Q: My question is in regard to something I read in an online truck forum, where an expert stated that the gasoline direct-injection engines are experiencing harmful deposits on valves which are impossible to clean with additives and can only be cleaned manually. Some manufacturers may have reduced their powertrain warranties because they know there will be some significant performance degradation as time goes on, resulting in a need to manually clean the valves.
Is this really true and is it a concern for those of us with direct-injection engines?
K.F., Ocean City, N.J.
A: As we have stated in this column before, gasoline direct-injection engines hit the streets in large numbers around 2006. Yes, shops are seeing engines with problems including rough idle, a drop in fuel economy, misfires and hard starting. Some experts claim that the issue may be due to ethanol in gasoline. Being hygroscopic, ethanol entraps water, which leads to misfires and then enters the crankcase, where it breaks down the oil additives, causing them to gas off. The oily gaseous mixture then deposits on the intake valves via the positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, system. About all you can do is change the oil regularly and use synthetic. There are no easy solutions, including chemical solutions, to cleaning the valves. We have not heard of carmakers shortening their engine warranties.
Q: After reading your column about wind buffeting, I was reminded of my first new car purchase. It was a 1966 Chevy Impala station wagon. The rear tailgate had an electric motor for lowering and raising the window. It was great. If the interior was hot from the sun all I had to do was lower the rear window and lower the side windows. The heat vanished and no buffeting occurred. I drove this station wagon for 16 years with no regrets. I drive an SUV now and often wish I had an electric rear window.
J.H., Park Ridge, Ill.
A: That open back window allowed the incoming air to also flow out, preventing the buffeting issue. However, be aware that at the rear of the vehicle there is usually a low-pressure air zone — what some may refer to as a partial vacuum. This presents the danger of drawing exhaust gases back into the passenger compartment, which could be a serious problem, particularly if the other windows are closed. Vehicles at risk include modern SUVs and crossovers (which often resemble station wagons).
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and Master Auto Technician.