motormouth bob weber
Q: My CD player is broken. It seems a few CDs might be stuck in the changer. I cannot insert or extract any CDs, but the CD player will replay a few songs from two or three of the CDs that are stuck inside. Lexus quoted over $1,000 for a replacement. A local repair shop quoted $500 for a used stereo plus labor. Now I'm wondering if a repair shop could pull the stereo and see if the CDs can be manually extracted, and if that would fix it. What do you think?
A: Most new cars don't even have CD players, so consider this a feature, not a bug. Snarky? Yeah. We admit to burning most of our CDs to flash drives or SD cards. A bit of a hassle, but they do take up less space in the console. A couple of tricks include pressing the eject button while smacking the dash with the heel of your hand, or slipping a credit card over the top of the CD and another card beneath, then squeezing and pulling out the CD. Tip: Do not use copied CDs as they are often thicker than originals and labels exacerbate the potential for jamming. The cost of having a shop do the labor of removing your unit just to take a look is probably not worthwhile.
Q: I recently purchased a new car that has a manual transmission. Crazy, right? When I park, after engaging the parking brake, should I also put the car in gear? If so, what gear?
A: Not crazy at all. We, too, prefer to row our own. Yes, you should always put the transmission in gear when you park. Use reverse as it is the least likely to allow movement in case the parking brake doesn't hold.
Q: How long does the Toyota Prius battery last? My Prius is 12 years old with 120,000 miles on the original battery.
K.R., Abington, Pa.
A: A spokesperson from Toyota said, "The battery lasts the life of the vehicle that has all the recommended maintenance performed."
Q: I have a Dodge Challenger. After completing a left turn, the ESP/BAS light comes on, along with a beeping sound. The light does not do this on right turns. I just had new front rotors and pads installed. Please help.
N.B., Norridge, Ill.
A: A front brake job, huh? During the work, one of the wheel speed sensor connections may have come loose — probably the right wheel since the wire to that side would be stretched during left turns. The beeping sound is there to get your attention to look at the warning lights.
Q: Just read your column about removing sap with Off bug spray. You wrote, "We are going to file this tip along with the ones suggesting toothpaste to clean discolored headlight lenses." My buddy is an insurance adjuster who told me the collision shops use Off as a quick fix for discolored headlight lenses. Surprised you didn't mention this.
P.S., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A: This would be an awesome tip if Off would also repel love bugs!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.