Q: I have a car that I drive only a couple of thousand miles a year. It had a slow leak in a tire more than 10 years old. I took it to a tire dealer who said that because of its age, he couldn't touch it. He told me that in Minnesota it's a $10,000 fine if he did so. Of course, he was happy to sell me a new tire. I then took it to local mechanic who pulled the small nail out, patched it and sent me on my way. Setting aside the safety issue of driving on 10-year-old tires, is there a law or regulation that prevented that dealer from repairing my tire?
A: While there have been efforts at both federal and state levels to develop tire age and tire repair regulations, to my knowledge there are no specific laws yet. Each tire manufacturer has its own repair guidelines and the Rubber Manufacturers of America, (RMA) publishes specific guidelines for tire repair.
In general, a tire can be repaired if the damage is ¼ inch or smaller, not in proximity to other damage, is confined to the tread block area of the tire and the tire is deemed reparable.
Methods of repair include the one-piece stem and patch repair or the two-piece stem and patch repair, requiring that the tire be dismounted from the wheel. The RMA recommends never repairing a tire with just a plug, or just a patch.
Q: Our 2011 Subaru Legacy has a dashboard panel lit up like a Christmas tree. The following lights remain on constantly: check engine light, traction, brake light and the cruise control light flashes. Since the check engine light remains constant, the service center says it is OK to drive even though the cruise control doesn't work. Before taking it in to a dealer for diagnostic testing, having a second opinion might help.
A: The car isn't "OK" to drive — there's a fault in the system, likely in the ABS/traction control. And it really isn't "OK" to drive if the brake warning light is on. This light illuminates if the brake fluid level is low, the parking brake is still on or if there's an imbalance of hydraulic pressure in the system.
So take the car to your dealer to have its diagnostic equipment identify what's wrong. The basic Subaru OE warranty is three years/36,000 miles, the powertrain is covered for five years/60,000 miles and the federal emissions warranty covers the computer and catalytic converter for eight years/80,000 miles.
Subaru issued TSB #06-41-11 dated October 2011 that identified low battery voltage — DC C0074/C0075 — as a possible cause for multiple warning lights.
Q: I have a 2011 Ford Escape. The air conditioning works in the morning after it has been in the garage all night but the minute it sits outside in a normal heat it no longer works. It blows hot air only. I have had Ford check it three times and it works when I drive off but then stops working. I took it to an independent mechanic who replaced the hose, not cheap, and again it worked for one day and then failed. He then put dye to try and trace the problem but that failed as well. He was stumped and said to take it back to Ford.
A: At this stage, it is possible the A/C has been overcharged with refrigerant. As ambient temperatures rise, pressures in the A/C system also rise. The system pressure switch will disable the compressor when pressures climb above a certain threshold, usually in the 300- to 400-psi range.
Other possible causes for overpressure are moisture/debris partially blocking the expansion valve, radiator fans not working and restricted airflow through the condenser.
If the vehicle is still within its three-year/36,000-mile OE Ford warranty, take it back to the dealer.