Q: I have a 2004 Toyota Camry with about 60,000 miles. My friend says that I need to change the transmission fluid, which he thinks is too dark. His mechanic also looked at my transmission fluid and said that I should change it. The shop that takes care of my oil changes said that I should not change it. Why such opposing views?
A: In the olden days, automatic transmission fluid (ATF) used to be pink, and if it became dark or brownish, it needed replacement. Today, ATF darkens very quickly, and it is no longer a bad sign. Follow your owner's manual.
Is the radio haunted?
Q: When we drove our 2016 Toyota Camry from Minnesota in November to our winter home in Florida, we changed the FM radio presets to reflect the local stations in the Fort Myers area. About a week later, we noticed all the presets had changed back to the Minnesota stations. We changed them again, but several weeks later, some of them went back. So we deleted preset No. 2 (93.7) by moving up presets 3 through 7. A week later 93.7 was back in the No. 2 spot and the others had shifted down. Any clue what's wrong?
A: This is more a question for a radio tech than a car guy. One thought is that because 93.7 also streams on the internet as 93X, your radio is tying into it via its Sirius connection. Or maybe your car is pining for home, much like a lost dog.
Regular is good enough
Q: We have a 2015 Subaru Forester XL. The label on the gas cap "recommends" premium gas. Is it really that important to pay for premium?
A: The key word is "recommends." Premium gas is not required, just recommended. For most motorists, regular gas is fine.
Don't overdo it
Q: What is the reason for not squeezing in extra fuel during a fill-up? I do it all the time and have had no problem that I know of.
A: There are a few reasons, but the biggest one is that you run the risk of introducing liquid fuel into the vapor storage charcoal canister. The canister's job is to hold vapors from evaporating gasoline while the vehicle is parked, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. When the engine is next run, the vapors are sucked in and burned. A flooded canister is costly to replace.
Q: I have a 2015, six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma. The manual says to change the plugs after three years or 36,000 miles. I don't drive much, so after three years, I have only 16,000 miles on it. Do I wait till it has 36,000 miles, or do I change the plugs now?
A: The manual advises you to change the plugs after three years or 36,000 miles — and here's the important part — whichever comes first. Change the plugs now.
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.