What is vehicle descent assist?

The “Vehicle descent assist” feature is helpful if you are driving off-road and going down a steep slope. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Q: I have a 2020 Subaru Forester and it has something called a “vehicle descent assist” feature, which I’d love to use, but, according to the manual, it is designed to turn off when the vehicle reaches 25 mph, which it does! This makes no sense to me. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

M.F., Bristol, Conn.

A: Hill decent control is helpful if you are driving off-road and going down a steep slope. It is not of much good for everyday driving. But if you want to get out and get dirty, you will like it.

Q: I was recently having my car serviced. The dealer did the tire rotation and reported that one of my aluminum wheels was very slightly out of round, a pothole for sure. It was subtle but visible. He asked if I had any issues with driving it. I said no. He suggested replacing the wheel and that would cost almost $900 for one wheel. He commented that there are aftermarket services that will repair the damage. He also said, that if it’s not so bad that you don’t notice it, it’s probably not that big of a deal. I’m inclined to live with it and evaluate its impact on tire wear.

T.J., Lake Zurich, Ill.

A: It may simply be cosmetic damage. I would live with it, but I would also keep an eye open for the low tire pressure warning light on the dash. Wheel repair is certainly a money saving option and there are several companies in your area. Some large wheel repair shops may have your wheels in stock and able to ship right away, repair yours and put it in their stock.

Q: Where are the sensors located for blind-spot alert lights, and how do they work? I have a 2018 Chevy Equinox, and I’ve had a few blind-spot sensor anomalies recently. I cleared snow off the windows and mirrors of my car but drove with light snow on the body of the car, and the driver’s side blind-spot alert was on, despite not driving near any other cars. Later, with no snow on my car, and while crossing a long bridge alone late at night, my driver’s side light was illuminated. Luckily, I learned how to drive in the early 2000s in cars built in the 1990s, so I don’t really rely on blind-spot alert lights.

A.K., Aurora, Ill.

A: The sensors are at the rear of the vehicle. Most use radar but some use the ultrasonic parking sensors. I am not sure which system your vehicle uses. When something is detected, a signal is sent to a computer module, which in turn sends a signal to the door mirrors to switch on the light.

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