Q. I’ve been hearing a lot about premium gasoline brands lately and have read some positive comments from you about using premium gas based on AAA testing. However, I would like to know if the BP and SAM’s Club brands are considered top brands. My second question is, where I live, the gas all seems to come from the same terminal. How do I know if I’m getting the gas I’m paying for?
A. To find out if a gasoline brand is considered TopTier, visit www.toptiergas.com. BP was once listed as TopTier gasoline, but lately it seems like they’re not on the list anymore. All gasoline base stock is the same. The formula and amount of the additives are patented and this is what makes gasoline brands unique. These additives are applied when the tankers are filled with products.
Q. I’ve owned several cars, from a “Bullet-Mustang” to Volkswagen GTIs and now an S-line Audi. I’ve been reading about the all-new Nissan Z. I owned a 240 Z when it was
actually a Datsun and have loved most (not all) versions since then. What’s your take on the latest version of the Z car?
A. I recently spent a few days evaluating one and loved it. I also took it to a local auto show to judge the reaction of the attendees and all the reactions were very positive. l
think Nissan has done a really good job with both the interior and exterior design and a tribute to the original 240 and 260 Z cars. The ride, handling and braking were fantastic and the 400hp turbocharged V-6 engine, especially in combination with the six-speed manual transmission, was fantastic. The cabin was a bit cozy and I would have liked a little more exhaust note, but overall this latest Z car is a winner.
Q. I have a 2018 Acura MDX that I take to Florida every year for the winter. Now that just about all the exit numbers have changed, my factory GPS isn’t as useful as it once was. Mine
the question is, is the update to the factory GPS covered by my warranty?
A. Yes, exit numbers will change to comply with a 2009 Federal Highway Administration mandate for all states to have race mile marker exit numbers. This new
Numbering will take some getting used to, but will allow motorists to know the distance between exits and will also make it easier to locate motorists if they are unlucky. Since the navigation system works as designed, it is not covered by the warranty. That said, I have a Garmin portable sat nav and they updated it for free. So maybe in the spirit of customer satisfaction Acura can do something similar.
Q. I have a 2010 Mazda Miata and the rear shock looks rusted. I plan to replace both strut cartridges, do I need to replace both rear struts? The car has low mileage and is only driven in the summer, and I plan to keep it for a while.
A. If this was my car I would replace the struts with a complete set. There are several brands, one of which is Monroe, and they offer a quick spring that includes a fully assembled strut with the spring, bushings and mounting. This is an easier option to install and will also restore ride height and handling.
Q. I recently had a burnt out left headlight on my 10-year-old Chevy Malibu. A friendly police officer stopped me – no ticket. My last Malibu that was older, the whole bumper had to
come off. Is this also the case with this car?
A. There is a minor improvement in this design and on the 2013 Malibu the washer tank needs to be removed. Once removed you can access the orbs.
My advice is to replace both low beam bulbs, the light will be evenly bright and no tickets.
Q. I have a question about my 1968 Pontiac GTO that I have owned for almost 20 years. It has been restored and is a low mileage car born and raised in California. My problem is that the car drives smoothly at normal city speeds (up to 60 MPH, but on the highway, once you get to 68-70 MPH, the car tends to vibrate as if the wheels are out of balance. I recently had a installed set of expensive Firestone redline wide oval radial tires bought from Coker Tire When they were first installed by a local shop I felt they were not well balanced due to the vibration so had them rebalanced at another shop Unfortunately there was no change I have front disc brakes and rear drums Both have been replaced including the drums in the last 1000 miles Most of the front end components and suspension parts have also been replaced Can you advise what the next step is that should I take to diagnose this problem? The problem seems to be noticeable only at high speeds. A friend of mine suggested that the drive shaft could be out of balance. I want gr Hope this car drives as good as it looks.
A. First, I don’t believe it is a drive shaft balance problem. If so, you would feel the vibration in the car body much more than in the steering wheel. Back in the 60s 70s and
even in the 80s we would use a wheel balancer on the car. These balancers would not only balance the wheels and tires, but also the hubs, rotors and drums. With a little searching, you might find a store with one of their balancers. The other possibility is that the tires, wheels and hubs need to be better matched. Every tire, wheel and hub has a high and low spot. If the high point of the wheel is mounted on the high point of the hub, you may get a vibration even if the wheel and tire are perfectly balanced. At this point it will take some time with a dial indicator and runout gauge to get everything as perfect mechanically as possible.
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