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Q: For many years whitewall tires were the most popular and most expensive tires you could buy, and I can't believe they have fallen out of favor these days. Can a person even purchase them anymore? Do you know why they lost popularity?

A: I don't know why whitewalls went out of favor. Your local retail tire store might not carry them, but you still can find some on the internet. But there is another option. When I was in high school, I used to install Port-a-Walls on tires for a used car dealer. They are fake whitewalls that cover the tire's original sidewall to dress them up.

A car checkup

Q: I have a 2007 Honda Civic EX with only 22,365 miles on it. The owner's manual says to change the oil when the dashboard indicator displays 15% oil life, and the indicator has never gone below 80%. Nonetheless, the dealer tells me that the oil needs to be changed on an annual basis. And every year the dealer finds hundreds of dollars of fixes that need to be done. Given the age of the car, should I really be taking it in every year for a checkup if I'm not having any problems?

A: I preach the gospel of following the oil life monitor — most of the time. If your owner's manual calls for an annual oil change, do it. You're obviously not driving much, but short trips allow contaminants to build up, which causes the oil to degrade — even without driving. As for the annual checkups, with a car getting on in years, they're a good idea. Ask the dealer which of the recommended repairs need to be made right away for safety reasons and which can be dealt with later.

Beetle lust

Q: Years ago, I loved riding in my mom's yellow VW Beetle. I especially liked the side vent window. My Subaru Forester has that section of window for more unobstructed viewing, and it would be great if they were to make it a vent. Why don't car makers consider bringing back that feature?

A: The vent helped remove interior fog from the windows. Air conditioning does the job now.

Don't overdo it

Q: I've been following what you have said about inflating tires to what the auto manufacturer says on the door sticker. But what if I keep them inflated to the max PSI listed on the tire? I drive a 2011 Toyota Sienna. I would think that more air could help the mileage. Am I risking a blowout?

A: You wouldn't get better fuel economy or risk a blowout, but you would get a rougher ride.

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