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The Yankee Express

October 22-November 19, 2021

Q.

With COVID I have spent more time working from home than ever and have noticed two things when I go for a walk. First many SUVs are very noisy, not engine noise but what sounds like tire noise, why. The second issue is, one neighbor has an electric car and another neighbor has a plug-in hybrid. When we stop to chat, both cars make a weird noise, why? 

A.
Many SUVs today are designed to travel the Rubicon Trail even though they rarely leave the pavement. The large wheels with very aggressive tires are great for off road travel but can be quite noisy on local street and highways. Regarding electric cars and noise, starting in September of 2019 manufacturers needed to equip their vehicles with an alert when traveling at speeds of less than 19 miles per hour both in forward and reverse. This law was part of the pedestrian safety law passed by Congress in 2010. 

Q.

I have a 2007 Lexus RX 350 that has 207,000 miles on it. The person that I bought it from has always used Toyota brand conventional oil. My question to you, would it be best if I continue to use the same oil, or can I switch to full synthetic without a problem? I would be using the recommended 5w-30 grade of oil but another brand, Pennzoil or Quaker State. 

A.
Switching to synthetic oil on a vehicle with high mileage isn’t a problem as long as the car was properly maintained. Contrary to some opinion, synthetic oil will not cause oil leaks, but it may find a leak on a poorly maintained engine that has excessive sludge buildup. One alternative is using a high-mileage synthetic oil. This oil has additives that help restore dried out seals and improve oil performance. Regarding brands of oil, as big as Toyota is, they don’t own an oil refinery and use oil manufactured for them. As with any vehicle, you only need to use oil that meets the manufacturers specifications. For more information on oil, I had a chemist on my radio program. If you want to listen to the interview and much more, go to http://johnfpaul.podbean.com  

Q.

I have a 1941 P-12 Plymouth Business coupe that I have owned for many years and have had very few problems. The other day I got behind the wheel, bumped the horn ring and the horn started to blow. I parked the car and disconnected the battery. How can I get the horn back to normal? 

The wiring of the horn is fairly simple. There is a horn button (switch and spring) located under the horn ring, horn relay and horn. The issue could be a sticking horn button or sticking horn relay. I would start with the horn relay, it’s easier to check. If that doesn’t work, you may need to remove the center cap to access the horn ring and horn button. After reading online (even I’m not that old) the special deluxe steering wheel center hub is held on with three screws; on the base model, you will need to pry off the center hub. Once the cap is off, you should get a clearer picture of the horn button and how it works. By the way, what a great car with its manual steering, brakes and transmission, it is a car that you truly felt like you were driving and not just going for a ride. 

Q.

My grandson just started college in Florida and his Hummer H3 has problem with a power drain on the battery. It will not even take a jump to start. I understand these vehicles have a lot of electrical issue.  Any suggestions?

A.
If the engine will not crank over with a jumpstart, the battery, starter or wiring could be an issue. If the battery has been repeatedly discharged it is possible that it has shorted out internally. At this point the best thing to do would be to get it into a repair shop and have the battery charged, tested and if needed, replaced. If the engine starts up, then it is time to look for parasitic drain. Some common issues that contribute to current draw, are the alternator itself, factory radio and trailer hitch wiring.  If he is having trouble finding a local repair shop, AAA has approved repair shops across the country. Go to aaa.com/repair to find a local shop.