motormouth bob weber

Q. I took my car to a car dealer (not the one who sold me the car) for an oil change. Later, I discovered that they removed my commemorative license plate frame and replaced it with one advertising their store. I didn't notice this until later, and by that time they had discarded my frame. They said it was their policy to apply their own frames to any car that came in for service. They just shrugged and said "sorry" with no offer for compensation — not even a coupon for my next oil change, as if I would ever go back there. Why can a dealer remove accessories from your car without authorization, or without at least leaving your original one on the seat? My old vintage frame is no longer made and is irreplaceable. Other car owners should be aware of this practice.

S.T., Aurora, Ill.

A: This smacks of theft! Check your cubbyholes. They may also have helped themselves to your spare change.

Q: Regarding the Lincoln MKC owner who didn't get a loaner car, as a judge, I would side with the owner because Lincoln in its brochure (and in its TV commercials, as well) creates the expectation of this type of luxury car service. While not delivering the service may not be outright fraud, it is certainly poor customer relations, to say the least.

R.E., La Grange Park, Ill.

A: The court of public opinion would concur.

Q: I have a 2010 Chrysler Sebring convertible with a broken motor for the top, so I am unable to use the convertible. I took my car to my local dealer and have been waiting for a motor since May 26. I have now involved Chrysler and they are still unable to locate a motor. How is this possible? Do you have any suggestions for me? It is almost the end of convertible season and this is so disheartening for me.

L.H., Bedford Hills, N.Y.

A: We did some poking around, but also came up empty-handed. The best we could find was offers of used motors on eBay.

Q: We have a 2003 Ford Escape with 47,000 miles in mint condition. All winter it sits in the garage on a trickle charger. The battery is new. Since May on three occasions it failed to start. Each time, it was after a short 2-mile trip to the grocery store with the A/C going full blast. The starter turns over but it fails to fire up. I've hauled it to our mechanic on two occasions. It always starts for him and he can't find the problem. He added a fuel additive the first time but that is it. He doesn't charge us. Any ideas? Another question: Should the gas tank be full, half full or near empty before letting it sit for the winter, and should we add a fuel additive?

J.N., Crown Point, Ind.

A: We'll answer your second question first. Yes, you should use a fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas. With less air space, there is also less chance of condensation forming in the tank. Your super short trips deplete the battery. It never gets a chance to adequately recharge as you drive. Although the starter runs, it may be cranking too slowly to start the engine.

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