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Q: For many years I've been wondering why so many vehicles have an RPM dial when no one uses it. What purpose does it have, and who benefits from using it? It takes up a lot of space on the dashboard.

A: The "RPM dial," as you call it, is really called a tachometer, and it is useful for drivers of manual transmission vehicles. Based on engine speed, the driver can select the proper gear. I agree with you that on cars with automatic transmissions, the tach isn't very useful.

Starter woes

Q: I've been having intermittent problems with the push button start on my 2015 Honda Accord. Once in a while, I get a whirling sound when I try to start it. It finally starts after a couple more tries. I've been told that it could be the battery or starter, but I've got only 32,000 miles on my car. Any idea what's up?

A: It sounds like a bad Bendix drive. Located at the nose of the starter motor, it engages the engine ring gear to crank the engine. Once the engine starts, it retracts. You can't replace just the Bendix, so you will need a complete starter.

Seeing the light

Q: I have a 2015 Lexus RX 350. The driver's side low beam bulb started to go off and on intermittently. I took the car to my trusted garage. To change the bulb means removing the front bumper and headlight. Plus, the bulb cost $140. With labor, this cost me $200. What could I have done differently?

A: Not much. Welcome to the new world of automotive repair. Carmakers rely on suppliers to provide complete component assemblies with no regard for after-sale service. I have a Ram pickup showing a "washer fluid low" message caused by a bad sensor. To replace it, the grille, radiator and washer reservoir, followed by the sensor, all must be removed. I'm ignoring the warning until I find time to do the job.

Follow directions

Q: We bought a trickler to maintain the battery and remote start our 2007 Lincoln Town Car. It worked for a while, but then it stopped. We bought what we thought was a better one. The new one's directions say not to start the car with the trickler hooked to power. The first one had no instruction like that. It seems to defeat the purpose if you need to go to the garage to disconnect it to start the car. What is your professional opinion on this?

A: I don't know what brand or type of charger you bought, but I always follow directions on products I buy. I also would avoid remotely starting a car inside a closed garage.

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