THE CAR DOCTOR
by john paul
Drive your Corvette regularly to help keep it fit
Q. I have a question about my 2014 corvette which has 4,500 miles on it which I bought it new. Since I have owned it, I have had nothing but problems. The transmission went at about 2,500 miles, the info center had to be replaced twice and the car needed to be towed to replace a spark plug. About six months later another plug went bad. The dealer tells me it is because I don’t drive the car enough. I always let the car idle for about five minutes to get the plugs hot, are they right about plugs fouling because the car is not driven enough? Recently I took my car for an oil change. After the oil change the white smoke was so intense coming out of the exhaust, I couldn’t see the cars behind me. When I got home the hood of the engine was so hot, I could hardly touch it. I checked the oil and it was overfilled almost a quart of oil, I brought the car back and they drained the oil and put the right amount of oil, the car still smokes a lot and leaves heavy black carbon on the exhaust and leaves gray dust on the bumper and license plate along with little black dots all over the bumper. My car was always at car shows and was cleaned once a week and never had this problem. The dealer claims there is nothing they can do, and now I’m stuck with cleaning exhaust and bumper every time I use it. Help!
A. The dealer is correct, just letting the car just run is not good for it. Your Corvette and really any vehicle needs to be driven. Letting the engine idle will carbon up the spark plugs and cause them to fail. You are better off driving it every few weeks, if possible, for about 30 minutes and during this time some of the driving should be at highway speeds. If you put the car away for the winter, just leave it. Many owners are tempted to start their cars and let them run, which is not a great idea. You are much better off waiting for a nice dry day and going for a ride. Regarding the exhaust, I’m concerned about the white smoke which is typically from coolant being burned during combustion. It is also possible the exhaust is filled with the excess oil which should burn off over time. My suggestion is drive your car and enjoy it.
Q. The drive belts on my car are six years old and have about 70,000 miles on them. Should I change them? There looks like just a bit of wear on the sides. Also, I’m thinking of going electric with my next car, is it true there is almost no maintenance?
A. There was a time when fan belts and radiator hoses were replaced every few years. Today we routinely see drive belts as well as coolant hoses last well over 100,000 miles and 10 years. In addition to fraying, turn the belt to look at the underside, if there is deep cracking, replace the belts. Regarding electric cars, as an example on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, there are still cabin filters to change transmission fluid replacement, brakes wear (slower than ICE vehicles) tire replacement (faster than ICE vehicles) , suspension checks, wheel alignment and tire rotation. But overall there is less maintenance.
Q. My question involves connecting a solar charger to maintain the charge on my battery. The 12V charger port on my vehicle does not stay on with ignition key removed. This would require me to connect the solar charger directly across the battery with a controller relay. Can the solar charger with the controller remain connected while I drive the vehicle?
A. The controller of the solar charger should have diodes that only allow the electricity to go in one direction. I see people leaving them connected to boats and RVs without issue. That being said, I looked up two different solar battery chargers and both stated the charger should be disconnected when the vehicle is being driven. So based on that, I would say, connect the battery with a quick disconnect plug and disconnect the charger when the vehicle is in use.
Q. I have a 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe and the manual states to use 0W-30 oil which i don’t see on store shelves. is it ok to use 0W-20 oil?
A. If the manual or oil cap states 0W-30 that is what you should use. Although interestingly my data base lists 0W-20 oil but I would defer to the owner’s manual or oil cap on the engine.
John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected] Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.