Question: Any ideas on how to control rodents from chewing on the wiring in cars? We have sustained damage to our Chevy Cruze. So have many others we have spoken to. I understand it is mainly confined to newer cars due to the use of soy and corn in the wiring lubricant. Is that true? Shouldn't GM and others come up with a solution?
- K.W., Des Plaines, Ill.
Answer: We don't know about corn, but soybeans are used to manufacture the insulation on wiring - and not just automotive wiring. A couple of years ago, Honda suggested a solution: rodent-resistant tape. Dealers actually sell this at their parts counters. You can find it online and at some retail stores. Looking like regular electrical tape, but with rodent icons on it, the tape is impregnated with capsaicin - the compound that makes chili peppers hot. Allegedly, rodents don't care for it as much as us chiliheads. Some have suggested encasing the wires with metal mesh. Although we have not had occasion to try it, plastic wiring loom covers may be a deterrent. If you must replace your wiring, it may be covered under your comprehensive auto insurance plan.
Q: I was getting new tires and walked over to where a tech was trying to balance another customer's tire. He spun the tire, then double-checked with another spin; it spun different. He did it about three times. Finally he asked the customer if he put that Fix-A-Flat stuff in the tire and the customer said yes. The tech told him that, in a sense, the tire is ruined. Every time you stop and go that stuff runs down the tire, creating a different imbalance. This was back a few years and I never forgot it. Is this new stuff going to coat the insides of the tire evenly to keep it balanced?
- K.B., Grant Park, Ill.
A: The new stuff is not magic. Patrick Mallon, technical expert with Fix-A-Flat, told us that such products are a temporary repair to allow the motorist to get home safely. As soon as possible, it should be removed from the tire and both the tire and rim should be rinsed and dried. The tire should then be properly repaired with a patch or plug from the inside. Liquids inside the tire-and-wheel assembly will continue to cause an imbalance unless removed. The major differences between today's products and those of yore is that they neither damage tire pressure monitoring sensors nor do they contain a flammable propellant.
Q: The inventory purchasing director at the dealership where our car was purchased (not Hyundai), recently sent me a letter requesting the opportunity to acquire the 2014 Hyundai Elantra that we purchased in January. The reason for this is because they said it was on their "hot list." What do they mean by hot list?
- P.S., Calumet City, Ill.
A: They want to buy your car and imply that it is sought-after by customers looking for a used car. That may be true, but it is probably also a way to simply get you into the showroom and perhaps buy a new car. Be wary. If they make you an offer, compare their offer to sale prices from other used-car sellers.