motormouth bob weber
Q: I'm a female baby boomer who has purchased four Chrysler 300Cs since 2004. Due to a bumper mishap between my car and a light pole, I rented a 2016 Chrysler 300C and found out there was no CD player. I plan to purchase a 2018 Chrysler 300C this November. Can a CD player be installed?
– G.C., Chicago
A: First, there was the automobile record player. The Highway Hi-Fi debuted as an option on 1956 Chrysler DeSoto, Dodge and Plymouth models. Record players often skipped on bumpy roads. The eight-track tape player solved that problem, but quickly gave way to the cassette player, which lasted until the CD player pushed it out of the radio pod. The USB port upstaged the CD player and we can store a bazillion tunes on a flash drive. Do not despair. Any entertainment pod with a headphone jack will accept a portable CD, iPod or even a cassette player. Bluetooth is another option. But with vinyl making a comeback, can the record player be far behind?
Q: The spare car fob for my 2015 Nissan Rogue does not work. I stopped by my Nissan dealer and, at first, they said it was probably the battery, but when that was proven wrong they told me I shouldn't have left it in my dresser drawer for almost two years. Can this be true? Is the wood in my dresser sucking the codes out of my fob?
– A.D., Darien, Ill.
A: The codes may not have been sucked out, but the handshake memory may have gone away. If the battery dies completely, the electronics in the key fob may lose their memory of the car with which they were once paired. After a new battery is installed, the fob must be reinitialized to the car. The dealer should be able to do that.
Q: Last week after dropping my 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0-liter turbo for the 45,000-mile scheduled maintenance and three recalls, the service writer calls and says I may need a new drive belt, and also recommends some sort of an exhaust system cleaning to get out all the carbon. I told them to hold off until my 60,000 scheduled maintenance. Should I have either the drive belt or exhaust system cleaning done earlier?
– L.L., McHenry, Ill.
A: Multi-rib (serpentine) drive belts are very durable. Although they often develop lots of small cracks along the ribs, that is no reason to condemn them. There are tools and apps for proper diagnosis. As for the exhaust carbon cleaning, we add our "huh." Do they plan to use some sort of giant, fuzzy pipe cleaner? We would ask to see it. If they produce it, take a photo and send it to us. Lifelong learning is important.
Q: Do you have a source for interior panel parts for a 1991 Suburban, such as the dash? It is all cracked and falling apart.
– J.D., Plantation, Fla.
A: It may be nearly impossible to find a dashboard panel for a vehicle that is nearly 20 years old, but there are covers available to both hide the wear and reduce glare from the sun. DashMat is one with which we have had success. These are custom-fit, carpetlike covers with cutouts for the vents and so on.
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 email@example.com.