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Q: I have a 2017 Ford Fusion hybrid. When I took the car to Ford for a 60K service, I was told that the lug nuts were swollen. How do metal lug nuts swell? Plus, a technician told me that Ford charges $240 for replacements, or I could go to a parts store and buy them for about $40. What's the story here?

A: Ford has been using steel lug nuts with chrome-plated covers. Corrosion develops between the cap and nut, which is what your mechanic referred to as swelling. Get rid of them. I agree that aftermarket lug nuts would be a good choice, but be careful that they, too, are not the sandwich style, or the problem will repeat itself. Dorman is a brand I trust.

Can gas go stale?

Q: I have a hybrid Ford Fusion. Most of the miles driven are on the battery, so I use very little gasoline. I've gone as long as six months between fill-ups. Is there anything I should add to the tank to keep the gasoline "fresh?"

A: The fuel should be OK for six months, but you might want to add a stabilizer such as Sta-Bil for your peace of mind.

Phone fix

Q: Three weeks ago, you ran a letter from a person whose flip phone would not pair with his Subaru. He (and you) might like to know that some phones can be paired by using a cable, and, once that's done, will work via Bluetooth.

A: I love it when readers offer help to each other. Read on for another one.

A dust-up

Q: About a month ago, a reader complained about brake dust. I have a 1985 Mercedes SL with Bundt-style rims. Those cars give off a lot of brake dust, and it is difficult to get out of all the crevices. My son worked for a dealership in the summer during high school washing cars. Purple Power melts the brake dust. Be sure not to get it on the paint. Ammonia-free Windex also works well.

A: I have used Purple Power, but never on an automobile. It is powerful stuff. I advise users to read the label.

Nothing to spare

Q: I purchased a used 2013 Cadillac SRX a couple of years ago with super-low mileage. About a year or so later, I discovered that the vehicle had no spare tire. I inquired about it at the dealership, and they said that no spare tire was provided for that year and model. I was told to have a can or two of flat tire repair foam. I can't find anything searching the internet. I'm looking for any suggestions about a possible spare tire kit.

A: Spare tires are becoming extinct. Instead, you get a kit containing a pump and some tire sealer. The SRX originally came with an electric pump located in the stowage area, but no sealer. Pump and sealer kits are available at most auto parts stores and big box retailers.

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