Q: I paid for an extended warranty, and the dealer tells me that I need to retain my service records to keep my warranty in effect. What is the minimum service required to keep my warranty in effect?
A: All you need to do is follow the maintenance schedule found in your owner's manual. If you rack up more miles than the book lists, just keep repeating the routine. You can keep a record in your book, but you also must have proof that the maintenance was performed. Save every service bill. If you do the work yourself, keep receipts for the oil, filters, spark plugs and so on. If all your service is at the dealership, they will have your records on file.
Carpet the garage?
Q: Years ago, a neighbor who was a mechanic told us to put a rug on our concrete garage floor, beneath the motor, to prevent moisture from prematurely aging the engine. Is there any evidence that this does, in fact, have a positive effect on a car's engine?
A: If there were any truth to this, highways would be paved with carpet. Of course, that might impede snow removal in the winter.
Q: We have a 2017 Subaru Outback that has developed a tear on the bottom of the driver's seat. Although the car is less than five years old and has only 35,000 miles, it is out of warranty. The dealer has offered a "goodwill" coupon that will cover the part only. Do you think we should go ahead and replace the seat cover with the OEM part and pay the service fee at the dealership to install it? I'm wondering if it will just tear again in three or four years.
A: Vinyl seat covers are prone to cracks and tears. There are rip repair kits available. I have used them, but the repair has never totally blended in. I recently bought a roll of self-adhesive tape to repair my TV-viewing recliner. So far, so good, and it looks good. Another solution: You might choose to replace the seat cover with a genuine Subaru cover and have it installed by an independent upholsterer who charges less than the dealer. Check around for prices.
Q: Why have some carmakers opted to place turn signals in the bumpers? Unless you are the driver right behind this vehicle, you would have no idea someone ahead of you is planning a turn or changing lanes. This would seem to be a hazard.
A: So long as the turn signals meet the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, which the bumper lights do, the carmakers can place them wherever they please. That doesn't necessarily mean it's smart.
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.