Q: I have a 1994 Suburban 1500 with 180,000 miles. It runs good and doesn't leak any oil. But when I turn on the heater, it spews a film onto the windshield. The defroster has no effect on it. It seems a bit oily and doesn't wipe off clean. What do you think?
A: It sounds like you have antifreeze coating your windshield. Most likely there is a small leak in the heater core, which is part of the HVAC system. Replacing the heater core can get expensive, so try a radiator sealer such as Bar's Leaks, which might plug the hole.
Lug nut dilemma
Q: I went to Costco to have two new tires installed. They told me that I needed to get new lug nuts because the ones on my 2004 Dodge 1500 Ram truck were swollen and that they couldn't get them off without destroying them. I called the dealer, and they said it would cost $24 for each new lug nut. To replace the lug nuts on my truck would cost me $500, which is ridiculous to me. Do you have any suggestions on how to get new lug nuts at a reasonable price other than from the dealer?
A: This was common on some Ford and Dodge vehicles. The original lug nuts are steel with a chrome cap over them. The nuts corrode between the two and swell, making them nearly impossible to remove. I say nearly impossible because there are special sockets that technicians can use to get those nasty nuts off. But even if you do get them off, you don't want to put them back on. I suggest replacing them with chrome or stainless-steel nuts. Check parts stores for availability.
Pick a lane
Q: Does it matter what lane I travel in to go fewer miles. In other words, is the far-left lane shorter?
A: The shortest path between two points is a straight line. To approach that, you must cut corners, and that could cause trouble and maybe even get you a ticket. Using the left lane would be shorter if the road had only left curves (think of a NASCAR track), but because most roads have right and left curves, pick a lane. It will average out.
A weighty issue
Q: I like to keep my gas tank mostly full, and a friend says extra weight causes the mileage to go down a lot. He keeps his tank a quarter-full. Is there some validity to this?
A: Every extra ounce is a factor when it comes to fuel economy. That's why carmakers trim every bit of weight possible. But with gas prices so volatile, I prefer to buy as much gas as I can when prices are down rather than dribble in small amounts.
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 email@example.com.