Motormouth: In cold climes, keep the tank fullJanuary 24, 2020 6:31pm

Jan. 24-- Q: Is it still important for those of us in cold weather areas to keep the gas tank full?

-J.A., Chicago

A: Yes, it may be important to keep the tank full, or nearly so. Although some areas of the country do not have freezing temperature swings, many regions do. All air contains some moisture. More air in your gas tank means more moisture that may condense and freeze into ice. Although fuel line freeze-up is not as common as it used to be, there is still potential. Ethanol in the gasoline helps prevent freezing, by the way.

Q: I own a 1996 Dodge 1500 4WD pickup truck. I purchased the truck new; it is in great condition with 115,000 miles. The ABS warning light, however, is on continually and the brake light comes on randomly. The dealer says it is a bad sensor and he cannot find a replacement due to the truck's age. Any suggestions? Would removing the bulb affect other functions?

-J.P., Bechtelsville, Pa.

A: You can usually count on the automobile dealer to keep the replacement parts in inventory for at least seven years. After that, it is hit and miss. But you are in luck. Aftermarket sensors are available at almost any auto parts store. But they may have to order it for you. Removing the lamp is not a good idea. If it annoys you, put a piece of black tape over it until the part arrives.

Q: You were right about using microfiber to clean windows, but it should not be 100% polyester. Polyester/polyamide (nylon) blend, wets and cleans much better than 100% polyester. A wand will extend your reach about 6-12 inches, but I've used wands with mixed results; their bonnet cloths are too thin and too small. Once you discover that the bonnet leaves streaks, replace it with 12-inch square towels using binder clips to hold them over the wand's pad.

Don't spray a cleaner on the inside glass (or anywhere inside a car); it will make a mess of your interior and contaminate surfaces far from where you are working. Apply it to the cleaning cloth. Be generous in wetting. Capillary action is what draws the contamination and excess moisture from the glass into the cloth.

The trick to cleaning with microfiber is to use a product that contains no perfumes or waxes in a container that has no residue from laundry detergent or the like. Car wash (non-wax) clear liquid soaps or clear liquid dish soaps like Dawn in a clean bucket or sink work great.

-P.S., Arlington Heights, Ill.

A: Thanks for checking in and adding some good advice. You sound like an expert. Washing most windows is a pain in the neck. I have an even lower opinion of car windows.

Q: I am an avid reader of your column. Based on previous columns, I always engage reverse before parking my manual transmission car. When driving with my dad, he asks why. I have always said because Motormouth says so. Now I have the explanation of square vs. helical cuts. You may make me sound like an expert. Thanks!

-J.R., Indian Head Park, Ill.

A: The automotive service industry can always use another expert. Have you considered training to become a mechanic? It is good, satisfying work and there's not much of a chance it will be outsourced overseas.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest.

Send questions along with name and town to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 160 N. Stetson Ave., Fourth Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 or motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.

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