Q: I’ve always been told that tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Now I just saw an article that said to rotate them “only if needed.” Is that correct? Is it OK to not rotate them if they appear to be wearing evenly?
A: I used to suggest rotating tires at every second oil change. The 3,000-mile oil changes are gone, but rotation every 7,000 to 8,000 miles still is good. The goal is to have all four tires wear at the same rate and get replaced at the same time. But if your car has different size tires on the front and rear — say it’s a Corvette ZO6 on which the front tires are 19-inch diameter and the rears are 20-inch — do not rotate.
Exception to the rule
Q: Your response three weeks ago that using the air conditioning instead of opening windows won’t waste gas doesn’t apply to all cars. The mileage for my 2011 Honda Fit drops as much as 10% when I run the A/C. The system’s drag is more significant for small cars.
A: My advice was in response to a question about whether A/C compressors had gotten more efficient. I said that while early systems forced engines to rev up to power them, that’s not a concern in today’s cars. But you are correct — there are exceptions.
No key required
Q: Regarding the reader who did not have a way to get the locking lug nuts off his 2002 Corvette, I would suggest that he take his car to a Chevrolet dealership. If the locking lug nuts were installed when the car was originally purchased, a dealership might have a master socket. When I go to my Honda dealership for tire rotation, they don’t need my unlock socket because they have a master socket.
A: Good point, and something I had overlooked.
Seeing is believing
Q: My 2013 Honda Civic has an oil quality sensor. Can I believe the reading?
A: Yes. Carmakers want customers to buy another car from them when the current one wears out or the owner gets tired of it, so they take steps to eliminate problems. Nonetheless, there are “over maintainers” among us who change their oil more frequently.
Q: My wife’s 2014 Accord has about 51,000 miles on it. I still do the basic stuff such as oil and filter changes, wiper blade replacement, and keeping the tires at the correct air pressure. Other stuff goes to the pros. I realize that the maintenance minder uses algorithms for oil and coolant change intervals. How does the pro determine other functions, such as change transmission fluid, replace/check brakes, etc.? Is it mileage, sensors or voodoo?
A: It’s not voodoo, it’s you do. As in, you do the task whenever it needs to be done. Since it is up to you, the carmaker has provided help in the form of a book that spends most of its life in the glove compartment. Unopened.
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.