Q: With all the manufacturers talking about going to electric vehicles, how will my neighbors who have a garage full of stuff and the people in the city who park on the street nightly charge their vehicles?
A: Charging in one's driveway should not be a problem if the cable is long enough. Otherwise, the best option might be a public charging station. More businesses and shopping venues are installing them. Some apartment buildings and condos have chargers. Eventually charging stations will become more ubiquitous.
Are batteries doomed?
Q: I've been told that in order to make even a small percentage of vehicles battery-powered, we need rare earth elements that are in short supply. If we can't make the batteries, how can anyone expect to meet this agenda?
A: Currently, there is no shortage of lithium for batteries. There is some talk among experts that there might be a shortage around 2025 as carmakers release more electric vehicles, but that's also disputed. OilPrice.com recently reported that Tesla's Elon Musk "claims that Nevada alone holds enough lithium to convert the entire U.S. vehicle fleet into electric. Tesla has rights on over 10,000 acres of a lithium clay deposit in Nevada, from which it plans to extract lithium."
The cold truth about A/C
Q: My 2013 Nissan Altima blows cold air when the car is moving at highway speeds. But when it's idling at a light or moving at low speeds in traffic, it blows warm air. Several mechanics couldn't find anything wrong, and they tell me it's most likely an electrical issue that could run into thousands of dollars. Have you heard of this issue before?
A: The air conditioning condenser sits in front of the car's radiator to cool the compressed refrigerant gas into a liquid. An electric fan draws in outside air. At highway speeds, the fan often is unnecessary. If the fan does not switch on at low vehicle speed, the A/C performance suffers. It may be a wiring problem, a bad fan or something that controls the fan.
Strutting their stuff
Q: I have a 2004 Toyota Solara with 103,000 miles on it. I have had it well maintained by the Toyota dealership all these years, and usually they are more than happy to replace things that wear out. So why do they always demur when I ask about replacing the struts? The ride is not like it was when new. Wouldn't new struts improve the ride?
A: New struts usually make a big difference, not only for the ride but for safer braking. There is nothing unusual about replacing the front struts, but there is for the rear struts. To gain access to the mounting bolts, the rear seat cushions and several panels must be removed. And the extra labor will cost you extra money. Get a quote before you approve the job.
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.