Q: Before power steering, drivers needed strong arms, especially on heavy trucks, because it was harder to turn the steering wheel as vehicle weight increased and when the vehicle was not moving. So today, drivers are insulated from the fact that, when they are stopped and turn the steering wheel, they are putting more strain on the steering mechanism than if they let the car slightly roll. Does that extra strain cause extra wear to the steering mechanism and tires?

A: Power steering does not put any more strain on components than manual steering did.

Keep your distance

Q: I wonder if you have an opinion about this phenomenon of sitting 20 feet back of the car in front of you at traffic lights. When did this become a "thing"? What's the purpose? If the guy ahead of you suddenly decides to throw it into reverse and stomp the gas, you're not going anywhere anyway, so what's the point? The other day I came up behind a truck that was blocking me from getting into the left-turn lane. I figured there were cars in front of him. But it turned out that there was no one between him and the light. There had to have been at least 15 or 20 feet in front of him. This is killing me, I tell you.

A: Some drivers nudge into the crosswalks instead of staying behind the lines, which I think is even worse. From the truck's cab, it isn't easy to see over the hood. As a pedestrian, I prefer they give me extra space. But 20 feet? When I delivered auto parts, I was instructed to stop far enough back to see the tires on the vehicle in front of me. Maybe the guy in front of me is not going to back up, but if I am rear-ended, I don't want to smash into the car in front of me.


Q: When I turn on my heat in winter, why does my A/C also come on? I understand that it needs to be on when selecting the defrost mode, but I don't want it running when I don't need it. Is there a setting where I can leave it off but still have it work when I need it on defrost?

A: Today the HVAC systems in automobiles are much more sophisticated than in the past yet consume much less power. The vehicle's body control module (BCM) makes sure everything is operating at the most efficient level. The BCM controls the climate system by blending warm air created by the engine with the cool air from the air conditioning system to maintain the cabin temperature you desire.

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 motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.