Q: With the advent of EVs and the resulting need for thousands of charging stations, who is going to pay for them? Will there be a cost to use one? If so, how much?
A: I can't predict the future, but I can tell you what the current situation is. Some charging stations are free, and some you pay per kilowatt. There is no standard fee that I know of. Some are installed by retail businesses at their own cost to attract customers. Some are connected to the power grid, some are solar-powered. The U.S. Department of Energy has an in-depth publication that might answer more of your questions at https://afdc.energy.gov.
Q: We have a problem that the dealer and two shops can't fix. The brake pedal, which used to catch after the normal amount of travel, now must be pushed nearly to the floor before it grabs. The master cylinder, front brake pads and rotors all have been replaced, and the fluid has been bled. The dealer says it is fine. It's definitely not. My wife and I would like to keep the vehicle, but we don't like the fact that the pedal feels like it's not going to work. Any idea might be going on?
A: The pushrod connecting the brake pedal to the master cylinder is adjustable. Some master cylinders have a deeper dimple, requiring a lengthened push rod. Try that.
Get a grip
Q: I haven't heard about snow tires for many years. I think I remember my father having them a long time ago. I usually just get good all-season tires. Recently, my son-in-law said he has snow tires. He has a garage in which to store the regular tires during the winter and vice versa. But we live in a condo and don't have space for that. What are your feelings on snow tires?
A: It depends on the terrain where you live and where you drive. If the ground is relatively flat, all-season tires will suffice. But when the terrain is hilly or if you go places where snowplowing is not a high priority (like a remote cabin), winter tires usually will be better. And, yeah, storing the tires you're not using is a hassle.
Q: Last year, I purchased a 2008 BMW 328i, but I received only one key. I asked the local BMW dealer about purchasing a spare key. The service rep quoted me $261 for the key, $176 labor to program it, $47 in shop supplies and $34 tax. This seemed somewhat high, so I declined. Are you aware of any way I can purchase a spare key at a lower cost?
A: Unfortunately, the only way to get a new, original BMW key fob is to buy it from a dealer. But if you search online, you will find used fobs and even some reconditioned fobs for much less. Of course, you still will need to get it programmed. But I would refuse to pay for shop supplies. No supplies are consumed, and no hazardous wastes need be handled.
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.