Q: I recently took my 2018 Ford F-150 in for an oil change. The dealership informed me that because my mileage is 35,000, I needed a new air filter, cabin filter and, if I smoked, I believe they would have replaced the filters on my Marlboros. I was asked to sign an agreement that if the front end was out of line that I authorized an adjustment. Of course, they found something. The (toe) read minus 0.03, which I assume means three one-hundreths of an inch. The correction cost me $109. Did I get taken?
A: The reading was in degrees, not inches. That slight difference in the toe setting (one of the three axes including caster and camber) was, in my opinion, marginal. Nonetheless, proper settings can extend the life of your tires. You can breathe easier.
Free of Freon
Q: I have a 2023 Chevy Spark that has about 5,000 miles. The A/C gets cool, but never cold. The dealer says it is fine. I took it to two other mechanics who both explained they can't deal with the "new Freon" in new cars. Is this what we can expect from now on? Less cold air? And no one outside of the dealer who can deal with it?
A: Poor A/C performance is not the norm. Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen use the new stuff. It's not Freon. It is called R1234yf, and it is quite a bit more expensive — around $100 per pound. But it's also better for the environment.
Car in waiting
Q: My mother-in-law recently gave us her car after giving up her license. It is a top-of-the-line 2016 Toyota Camry in mint condition with very low mileage. We already own two cars, so it's kept in our garage. Because our other cars are getting older, we'd like to hold on to the Camry. How often should we drive it to keep it in good working order?
A: If you take it for a spin every week or two, the car should stay in good condition. Be sure to put some highway miles on it. Short trips or idling don't do much good.
Q: I'm a fan of the cruise control feature in my 2019 Ford Explorer, so I use it frequently, not just for highway driving. I also use it at low speeds when descending hills and some construction zones so I'm not constantly applying the brakes to maintain my speed. Does this practice cause potential damage to my vehicle?
A: No harm is being done. The car is programmed to do just what you describe by downshifting the transmission and using engine braking.
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.