Q: We have a 2010 Chevy Equinox with 70,000 miles. After replacing all four struts, we had a wheel alignment done. The vehicle had a left pull after the alignment. I recently read that the steering angle sensor needs to be reset after an alignment. Is this true? I don't believe this was done on my vehicle. What is the function of the steering angle sensor?
A: As of the 2012 model year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required all new passenger vehicles to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). Delphi Technologies, the supplier of steering angle sensors to GM, says on its website, "ESC is a series of sensors that work with a computer to improve vehicle stability by detecting and reducing the loss of traction."
The most important sensors are for the yaw rate, lateral acceleration, wheel speed and steering wheel angle. After an alignment or other suspension work, the steering angle sensor must be recalibrated.
Q: I have a "howling" tire. The dealer said it is cupped. What would cause a tire to cup, and is it safe to keep driving on it? I have 30,000 miles on the tires, and they still have good tread.
A: Although cupping can be caused by a misaligned suspension, the most common cause is worn shock absorbers or struts. A bent rim is another slim possibility, but the dealer probably would have spotted that. Although the noise is annoying, the tire is safe to use.
Cars need exercise
Q: My wife bought a new Toyota Camry in 2018. She has put only 10,000 miles on it. Eventually we want to give it to our grandson. I start the car once a week and idle it for 10 minutes, but I don't take it out of the garage. The car has a synthetic oil in it. Should I be doing anything else to preserve it?
A: It sounds like your grandson will be getting a sweet ride. Until you turn it over to him, take the car out for a spin about once a month. Drive a combination of local and highway speeds. Give it some exercise. And change the oil based on the time interval in your owner's manual.
Q: I was told about 40 years ago that you should never shift from reverse to drive or drive to reverse before completely stopping because it will damage the transmission. Is this still true?
A: It's still a good idea, but it is not essential like it used to be. Instead of relying on hydraulic pressure to switch gears, today's cars use solenoids controlled by a computer. As one solenoid is applied, another solenoid releases.
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.