Q: I appreciated your caution on connecting the negative to a grounding point when using jumper cables. A self-proclaimed family “expert” stated it is safe to connect it to the battery as long as you do the negative first. Can you comment on this theory please? Would that be safe, or not?
A: Often, self-proclaimed experts have been awarded the title by dummies. Here is the proper way to do a jumpstart:
1. Connect the positive (red) cable to the donor car.
2. Connect the positive (red) cable to the recipient car.
3. Connect the negative (black) cable to the recipient car away from the battery.
4. Connect the negative (black) cable to the donor car away from the battery.
Connecting both clamps to the battery risks a spark and explosion from any hydrogen gas coming from the battery. That’s not safe.
Q: A few decades ago, maybe less, you would hear of people dying of carbon monoxide inhalation as a result of sitting in closed cars in winter with the engine running. Is this still a problem? What about sitting in closed cars with the A/C running?
N.T., Walnutport, Pa.
A: Sitting inside the car while the engine is running is not unsafe. But sitting in an enclosed area like a garage is dangerous. With the advent of push button start/stop making key removal unnecessary, forgetful drivers are leaving their cars running. Since most cars are also very quiet, that clue is also fading away. We have CO detectors in our house. You should, too.
Q: During my last oil change at the dealer the service rep said I needed to have my brake fluid flushed on my 2013 Camry. They claim this is required every 30,000 miles to avoid rust in the line. I never heard of this on any car I’ve owned, and I am 76 years old. Is this legit or another way to nickel-and-dime me? Cost is over $125 each time.
B.S., Ingleside, Ill.
A: Although changing the brake fluid periodically is a fine prophylactic measure, it is not mandated by most carmakers — especially every 30,000 miles. There are test strips available to test for residual copper in the brake fluid which would indicate that it is time to change.
Q: My car’s check engine light came on with a code P2097 diagnosis. The code was cleared but it was suggested that I may be a “digital driver” and that there is no fix for this concern. After being told what a “digital driver” was, there is in no way, shape or form, am I that type of driver. A week later and the same scenario again. They clear the code and tell me to keep bringing it in whenever it comes back on. My question is, what do you think of this “digital driver” nonsense?
A: According to the Urban Dictionary, “A car driver who resists the analog world, proving a curve is a sequence of straight lines, and that incessant acceleration mixed with braking approximates a smooth highway speed. Most often found by locating the guy with car-sick passengers. ‘That drive back from the bar with Leo nearly made me hurl — he’s such a digital driver! Nearly killed the hula girl on the dash.’” Basically, it is somebody who is constantly tapping the gas and brake. I know such a person.
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