Q: I bought a 2020 Subaru Forester about three months ago. Falken tires came standard. Not knowing anything about this brand (I'm not sure if I had ever heard of it before), I stopped at an independent tire shop that sells Falken, among other brands. When I asked about Falken, the immediate answer was, "They're not very good." The dealer also said they should be good for 40,000 miles. I found out later that there is no mileage warranty. For the last three months, I have been worrying about having "not very good" tires. I haven't lost any sleep, but I still worry. Should I be worrying?
A: To the best of my knowledge, Falken tires are fine. They come as original equipment on several brands of vehicles. They are popular in motorsports, especially for drifting and endurance races. The tires are not included in the new car warranty but separately in one by the tire maker. The company says on its website that "Falken tires that are originally equipped on this vehicle are warranted against any defects in the materials and workmanship for the usable life of the original tread."
Margin of error
Q: I have always maintained my cars and have taught my two daughters the importance of vehicle maintenance. One question they asked is how far tire pressures can be off from the recommended pressures and not affect safety or handling. If the recommended PSI is 35, is anywhere from 32 to 38 psi safe? Also, which type of tire gauge is the most reliable?
A: Since 2008, all passenger vehicles are required by law to have a tire pressure monitoring system that triggers a warning light whenever a tire is 25% from its recommended pressure. Overinflated tires are more susceptible to damage because they don't flex as much. Low pressure affects handling and braking distance. And both reduce wear. As for your question about gauges, unless they are old or mistreated, most are reliable.
Stick to the sticker
Q: The sticker on my door frame says that the recommended tire pressure is 32 PSI. But the sidewall of the tire says it's up to 44 PSI. Which one should I trust?
A: Go by the sticker. The figure on the tire is the maximum safe inflation pressure, not the correct inflation pressure.
Keep mice at bay
Q: What is the best way to discourage mice from getting into cars stored for the winter? My stored car is clean, garaged and covered. I put some peppermint or Irish Spring soap in the engine compartment, yet some years I've seen evidence that I've had visitors, although, thankfully, no damage.
A: Laundry dryer sheets reportedly keep critters away. Stuff some steel wool in the engine's intake and the tailpipe, too, to prevent any visitors from setting up house inside.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. 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.