Q: While using adaptive cruise control (ACC) at highway speeds, any vehicle that cuts in front of me will cause my car to slow down rather quickly. I'm concerned about the problem this could cause for the cars behind me. Are the brake lights activated so that other drivers are alerted that ACC is slowing down my car?
A: Yes. In nontechnical terms, the computer chip in the ACC module sends a signal to the computer chip monitoring the brake lights and causes them to illuminate. Cross this off your list of things to worry about.
Q: I don't get this design fad that results in a lack of any bumper protection to the front of new cars. Why would someone buy a car like that? Wouldn't even a minor crash be dangerous?
A: It might appear that the front of the car is simply a shapely body, but hidden underneath is a surprising amount of protection. Of course, should the car run into something, all that body, trim and fancy lights will cost a lot to repair. But the driver, if not their pocketbook, is safe.
By the book
Q: I have a 2019 Ford Escape with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. The owner's manual says the oil should be changed every 10,000 miles, while the dealer recommends every 5,000 miles. I drive primarily highway miles, about 600 miles per week. What do you recommend for service intervals?
A: As long as you're using the full synthetic oil that is specified in the manual, go with what it says. Ford wants your car to serve you well enough and long enough that you will buy another one of their cars when the time comes. Follow the company's advice.
Q: I have a 2017 Toyota RAV4 with 24,300 miles. I took it in for an oil change, and the service person recommended that I replace the battery. When I asked why a three-year-old car with that few miles would need a new battery, he suggested it was because it wasn't driven enough.
My wife drives a 2014 Ford Escape with less than 38,000 miles, and that dealer has never said we need a new battery. Would you recommend going to a different dealer and getting a second opinion?
A: I always endorse getting a second opinion when something sounds fishy. I can't vouch for your current battery or how it was maintained, but batteries have a way of letting you know when they need to be replaced: They won't start the car. Because you don't mention any starting problems, I would question the need for a new battery.
Most auto parts stores will do a free battery test while you watch and give you the data (often as a printout) to help you decide. Many repair shops will do the same.
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.