motormouth bob weber
Q: I have a 2013 Hyundai Genesis coupe with rear-wheel drive. I would like to install two snow tires at the rear to help with fishtailing. The tire dealer said I would need four snow tires. Can I get by with only two rear snow tires?
A: Today's winter tires are better at providing ice and snow traction than ever before, states Tire Rack, which tests and sells many brands of tires. The company reports that "7 out of 10 vehicle manufacturers recommend four winter tires be used on rear-wheel, front-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicles. This is because if you use two dissimilar types of tires on your vehicle, you'll have a vehicle that has a 'split personality.' One end of the vehicle won't react and perform the same as the other. Especially in emergency situations, you'll find that your vehicle will probably understeer in one condition and oversteer in another. It is preferable to keep your vehicle's handling as consistent as possible by matching all four tires."
Q: I have a new Chevy Traverse, but washing the inside front window is quite a challenge. Any suggestions?
J.B., Joliet, Ill.
A: Not only windshields, but rear windows can be a challenge. For years, we have used a Stoner cleaning tool. It's like a miniature Swiffer with a 2-foot handle and hinged wiping pad shaped like the ace of spades. There are other brands and tools in auto parts and other stores. We suggest a two-step process of cleaning with automotive glass cleaner followed by polishing with a clean, soft microfiber cloth.
Q: My 2013 Miata has come down with several cases of dashboard rattle.
What sounded like a loose bolt rolling back and forth behind the dashboard turned out to be a loose bolt that had become unattached from the left sun visor. When I lowered the visor, the bolt fell into my lap. An easy fix.
The next loose bolt, which I was certain was behind the dash, dropped down from the right sun visor. Another easy fix.
Last week, however, another loose bolt, but no easy fix. It cost $127 at my dealer to learn that yet another bolt had come loose, this time from the roof latch at the window frame. When the mechanic removed the covering along the windshield frame, the bolt fell into his lap. Was $127 for 20 minutes of work a fair price?
A.G., South Milwaukee
A: If the shop's labor charge is $381 per hour, it is a fair price. Yet there is intrinsic value in the mechanic's knowledge.
This reminds us of the story of the day an IT technician was asked if he could help identify the problem with a desktop computer. The tech walked up to the unit and tapped the case on the side and it sprang back to life. The owner was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice. The bill arrived, for $100. The owner asked for a breakdown. The tech sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for whacking the machine, and $99 for knowing where to whack it.
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. 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.