Q: I have a 2019 Subaru Forester. I have been told that, because of the many electronic systems, I cannot go to a car wash that uses a track system. I was told it is because my car is in neutral on a track system and the electronic systems are still engaged. Is this true?
A: You stumped me, so I turned to the International Carwash Association for help. In an email, they said that there isn't anything that they are aware of that makes Subarus unable to be washed at a car wash. The association continues to advocate for car wash manufacturers to add a "car wash mode" that will help drivers be able to wash without difficulty. When in doubt, the driver should ask the car wash operators for assistance.
Q: The battery in my wife's Grand Cherokee died. I tried to jump it with my 2020 Ram, but to no avail. When I borrowed a portable jump start unit, it started right up. What gives?
A: Not all jumper cables are created equal. You might have been using lighter-gauge cables. Good cables are usually 1 or 2 gauge and able to carry 400 amps or more, while some jumper boxes can deliver 800 amps or more.
Phone charger issue
Q: I have a 2008 Honda CR-V. The TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) light would come on intermittently, generally after driving about 20 minutes, stay on for a bit, then go off. I brought the vehicle to the dealership, and they said the light came on because I was using the auxiliary jack in the dash to charge my phone. I've not charged the phone that way since, and the light's not come on. This doesn't make sense; isn't that what the auxiliary jack is for?
A: Cheap automobile phone chargers are known to create problems. The most common is interference with your radio. But I can't rule out stray signals from your charger messing with the TPMS system. A charger from the same company that makes your phone is less likely to cause interference.
Clutch is suspect
Q: I have a 2008 Saab 93 Turbo X. Recently, whenever the car warms up, I have a great deal of difficulty shifting gears. Whenever I start the car and it's cold, shifting is as smooth as silk. I've never had the clutch replaced and wonder if that could be the culprit. What do you think?
A: I think you're on the right track. My hunch is a bad slave cylinder. It pushes on the clutch cover (pressure plate) to uncouple the engine from the transmission. Because it is inside the clutch housing, you might as well replace the whole shebang, including the cover assembly, clutch disc, pilot bearing and, if necessary, the flywheel if it's showing heat damage.
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.