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Q: I bought a new car. How often should I be waxing it? I've heard that with the new paint finishes, waxing is a thing of the past. Is that true?
A: Modern finishes are magical and look good for a long time. But wax still has benefits. It seals the clearcoat protecting the paint. Bird and insect droppings eventually can damage the clearcoat. Wax makes it easier to remove those contaminants.

Modern waxes are almost magical, too. They are easy to apply and last a long time. I wax my vehicles every spring and fall, but I park in a garage. If you park outside, especially in a harsh climate, quarterly might be better.


Q: Before my husband died, I hadn't had to worry about car maintenance. I continue to learn about cars and maintenance from your columns and greatly appreciate them.
A: Thank you for reading the column and for the kind words. I have a hunch you already know the answer to the next reader's question.

A familiar question

Q: I have a 2004 BMW Z4 with 2.5-liter engine and 23,500 miles. Clearly, I barely use it. I am planning to have the oil and filter changed. The brake fluid was flushed in 2021. Does the car need a transmission flush, coolant flush and steering fluid flush?
A: I get this question more often than any other. Maybe it is from new readers. So, with apologies to my regular readers, here we go again: Turn to the section on maintenance in your owner's manual. There you will discover answers. Some flushes, such as coolant, are required. As for others, some wags call them wallet flushes.

Or buy a map

Q: The navigation system in my 2016 Acura MDX quit working during a trip through central Indiana. My dealer said the system has failed and will cost $1,900 to replace. Any cheaper suggestions?
A: Do you have a smartphone? In many cars, including yours, you can link the phone to the infotainment system via Bluetooth. Try Waze or Google Maps for navigation. If you prefer something more permanent, check out nav devices like Garmin.

Lay off the brakes

Q: We have friends who live in Montana. Last time we were there, I noticed that the wife shifted gears while driving downhill in the mountains. I say it doesn't make a difference and to just use the brakes. I need an outside opinion.
A: I downshift for long descents — like going downhill in the mountains. Engine braking saves wear to the brakes and avoids overheating them. Some cars use this technique when cruise control is activated. And because you take your foot off the accelerator during engine braking, fuel economy also goes up.

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