Q: Does the auto industry have any plans to provide one odd-sized lug nut for each wheel to deter theft?
T.G., New Lenox, Ill.
A: One odd-size lug nut would probably do nothing to stop a determined wheel thief. One odd nut would probably just annoy professional service technicians. If you are worried about theft, we suggest you buy a set of locking lug nuts. They are available at all auto parts stores. Although they are not foolproof, locking nuts might at least deter a would-be bad guy. Just be sure to provide the lug nut key to the shop doing your service. Waiting for someone to bring in the key will absolutely, positively annoy the service tech.
Q: I just got an oil change and an attempted tire rotation at the local Ford dealership. The service tech said they could not easily remove the lug nuts because they were swollen from moisture and bad weather conditions. These are the second set of lug nuts that I purchased in three years and Costco had the same problem. The Ford service person said I might want to use solid, one-piece lug nuts, but they wouldn't look as good. The dealership wanted an extra half-hour of labor to remove swollen lug nuts and $140 for new Ford lug nuts. I refused. Are there any lug nuts that can hold up for my Ford Fusion?
G.S., Naperville, Ill.
A: The problem is due to the lug nuts being made in two parts: steel nuts with a fancy chrome of stainless steel covers to match the fancy wheels. Due to weather and temperature changes corrosion occurs between the nuts and the covers, making them swell and separate as corrosion builds up between the two pieces.
Q: I learned to drive with a column-mounted manual gearshift. It has been decades since I had such a car. After reading news stories about accidents caused by the driver hitting the accelerator instead of the brake, I reconditioned myself to use my left foot for the brake. Your opinion on whether most of us should change our habits?
J.L., Allentown, Pa.
A: Don't do it. The left foot's job is to depress the clutch pedal. Use your right foot for both the brake and the gas. Experts report that, in a panic situation, humans tend to push with both feet. If one foot slips, there could be trouble. Additionally, using your left foot for the brake pedal may lead to inadvertently applying the brakes when they should not be applied. Doing this may send bad information to the engine control module which then may make incorrect adjustments. This often results in poor fuel economy.
Q: Here is another reason to own a stick shift. Many, maybe most, car thieves don't know how to drive them and will leave your car alone. I was pumping gas one night and a car suddenly pulled up and a young man jumped out and sprinted up to my car. As he got close and could see inside, he turned and ran back and they sped away. It was only later that I realized I had almost been carjacked and my stick shift saved me.
J.R., Allentown, Pa.
A: A stick this time has worked out fine.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and Master Auto Technician.