Question: I'm a snowbird. Each of my cars is driven only six months and garaged for six. I put only about 3,000 miles on each a year. Does it make any difference when I change the oil: start, middle or end of the driving season?
- J.H., Chicago
Answer: It is best to change the oil just prior to storing the vehicles. By-products of combustion, as well as water, can lead to acid formations in the crankcase. You don't want that junk sitting in your car until the next time you turn the key.
Q: I am slowly getting comfortable with a 2016 Kia Soul. All is well with one complaint: Three speaker housings mounted on the front deck reflect onto the windshield in bright sun. The two small speakers on either side are trimmed with aluminum rings, and a large middle area of concentric circles made of smooth plastic also reflects. (Rest of topside deck is textured, matte finish.) I took care of the mid-deck reflection by placing a folded black terry towel over it. I'm still looking for a solution to the aluminum rings. Take up crocheting?
- B.M., Niles, Ill.
A: We like to suggest DashMat products due to their custom design for the vehicle. This includes provisions for HVAC vents and, more important, air bags. Unfortunately, we could not find a product that covers those speaker rings. Some car owners in the South swear by ceramic windshield tint. Although this protects the vinyl on the dash and reduces UV radiation, it may do nothing to prevent those reflections. The draconian solution may be to pop those covers off the speakers and spray paint them flat black. Otherwise, it is knit one, purl two.
Q: My 2011 Lexus is about ready for front brakes. My local mechanic says that they do not resurface the rotors, but install new ones. My Lexus dealer, however, says that their brake job includes resurfacing. They did not mention new rotors. Whom do I listen to?
- R.M., Manchester, Conn.
A: In an effort to trim weight, the thickness of brake rotors has been whittled down to just about the minimum needed to stop safely. That is why many shops avoid resurfacing them. Sometimes, a light touch-up may be needed, but if the wear is minimal, you need to neither resurface nor replace. The price for replacement rotors has also become more reasonable. Ask your shops for quotes and you may be surprised.
Q: My wife owns a 2006 Buick LaCrosse with 26,000 miles on it. The car is kept in a garage when not in use. I have enclosed a picture of the tires. They look OK with lots of tread. Do we keep them or get new tires?
- L.E., Milwaukee
A: From the photos, the tires appear to be in good shape with no obvious cracking. Tires that either don't see the road very often or sit in the sun age faster than tires that regularly warm up through driving. To be on the safe side, it may be time to re-tire.
Paul Brand, author of "How to Repair Your Car," is an automotive troubleshooter, driving instructor, and former race-car driver. Readers may write to him at Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please explain the problem in detail and include a daytime phone number. Because of the volume of mail, we cannot provide personal replies.