Q: I have a 2018 Subaru Forester with 24,000 miles. The maintenance manual says brake fluid and spark plugs are due for replacing based on time/mileage (30/30 for brake fluid, 60/60 for spark plugs). When I recently got an oil change at the Subaru dealership, the service adviser said the 30,000-mile mark (not the 30-month time mark) will be the time for such replacements. Does that sound correct? With my amount of driving, 30,000 miles might be another couple of years. Also, what's a fair cost for spark plug replacement?
A: As for the brake fluid, it is time to do the job. Brake fluid is something that is affected more by time than mileage. Concerning the spark plugs, in my experience, they can last up to 100,000 miles, but follow the carmaker's guidelines. The spark plugs are around $200 retail at a dealership, but the labor charges vary. I would call around to get quotes from independent repair shops and compare them with the dealership.
Q: Recent flooding news makes me wonder — how do electric vehicles fare going through puddles or high water? Do they short out?
A: Electric vehicles (EVs) are just as safe to drive through standing water as internal combustion engine vehicles. Simply drive slowly and through water less than 4 inches deep, not because there could be an electrical problem but as a driving safety issue.
Air bag shortage
Q: I received a safety recall letter from Volkswagen in February stating that the driver's side air bag inflator on my 2015 VW Beetle "may explode due to propellent degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures and high temperature cycling." They said they would send another letter as soon as the recall work can be completed and once parts are available. A repair still has not happened. What can we do?
A: Replacement air bags are in short supply. Don't be shy about pestering your dealer, and you might go to the top of the list when the parts arrive.
More on hot cars
Q: Your answer to a recent question about cooling a hot car in the summer was only partly right. When a car is parked all day in the sun, the air inside can reach 120 degrees. You want to get that air out quickly. Instead of just opening the windows a couple of inches, open the doors for a minute or two and let the air out before getting in. Then open the windows a crack.
A: My answer was limited to the question. But, yeah, opening the car doors has been SOP since the 1950s. And I also didn't mention using a sunshade behind the windshield (remove before driving).
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 email@example.com.