motormouth Bob weber
Q: I recently saw something online about how a new federal standard requires all passenger compartment windows to be laminated shatterproof glass. As a retired first responder (36 years with FDNY), I can recall many times that we had to break a passenger window to remove a victim suffering a medical emergency or a child or even a poor dog in a locked overheating car.
Is this true or is it just another internet rumor? If it is true, it would seem that the regulators did not give it complete thought.
L.H., Pompano Beach Fla.
A: It was almost true. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in April that it was dropping a 2012 proposal to require U.S. vehicle window safety standards to match international rules. The agency said that it could not conclude that replicating European Union rules would increase safety, saying that the "current glazing materials are performing acceptably."
The U.S. already has performance requirements to reduce injuries resulting from impact and to minimize the possibility of occupants being thrown through windows in collisions.
Q: More vehicles are coming with start/stop technology these days, and I've noticed at stoplights when the light turns green, there are several vehicles being automatically restarted as they proceed. Will vehicles with this feature need their starter motors replaced more frequently because it is being used multiple times during stop and go driving? Or do these vehicles use a different type of starter motor specifically designed to accommodate the extra engine starting?
T.D., Naperville, Ill.
A: Your hunch is right about a different starter. They are specially made to take the beating of dozens or even hundreds of repeated starts per day.
Q: I was recently advised at my last regular maintenance servicing that the lug nuts on my 2014 Ford Escape are becoming extremely worn and that they (Ford dealership servicing) had a hard time getting them off for the tire rotation. They stated that the originals have an aluminum encasement that gets soft and wears down.
The dealer stated that I need to order "after-manufacturer" lug nuts and bring them to the next service so they can replace them. Has this been a concern that you've heard of?
D.Z., Tamarac, Fla.
A: Not only have we heard of this problem, there was a class action lawsuit regarding them, but that lawsuit was dismissed this year. The problem is that the lug nuts are made of steel and then covered with a chrome cap. After a while, corrosion forms between the parts and they swell, making removal difficult. The solution is to buy one-piece aftermarket lug nuts. They are often cheaper than replacement Ford nuts.
Q: I live near Kentucky Lake and non-alcohol gas is readily available. Do you see any benefit from using this gas in my 2012 Prius?
L.V., Kentucky Lake, Ky.
A: Ethanol contains about one-third less energy than gasoline. So, vehicles will typically get 3% to 4% fewer miles per gallon on E10 and 4% to 5% fewer on E15 than on 100% gasoline. That can add up on the typical car, but since your Prius is a hybrid whose engine does not supply all of the power, the difference will not mean much to you.
At a local station, I noticed that pure (100 percent) gasoline was 20 cents higher per gallon. Do the math.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician.