Readers' communications come in a mixed mailbag. Most ask questions. Others offer opinions. Some of the letters are complimentary, others not so much.
I took a particular pounding for this opening paragraph of a recent column:
"There was a time when the full-size pickup truck was largely blue-collar transit with a blue-collar price tag. As it turns out, that nostalgic note has gone the way of whitewalls, wire wheel hubcaps, and moderate Republicans."
I thought the reference to "moderate Republicans" was at once innocuous and factual, since the rise of the tea parties has left a number of moderate Republican lawmakers by the wayside.
A number of readers thought otherwise. They felt that a gearhead's thoughts should be confined to the garage.
To wit: Seriously, how stupid can you be to interject politics into your automotive reviews. I guess very. Oh well, I guess objective Inquirer writers have gone the way of, shall we say, moderate Democrats. - Thomas Wombaugh
Or: Really? I read an automotive article, and have to find a generalization on politics and specifically Republicans? Gee, and all Democrats want the government to help take care of them, because they can't take care of themselves? Stick to what you're supposed to be writing on, or else ask for a position on the op-ed page! - Chris Madison
Meanwhile, on to some other readers:
Question: I was wondering if you could answer a question about car care. I made the mistake of parking under a pine tree and now have pinesap spots on the car. Can you recommended anything to remove them without harming the car's finish? - John McGrail
Answer: There are several products you can safely use: an alcohol pad, baking soda and a wet cloth, nail-polish remover, and even hand sanitizer. Use a clean cloth to wipe it off and then wipe the area completely dry.
Q: A friend told me he thought there was a minivan on the market that had a built-in vacuum cleaner. If that is true, would you tell me who makes it? - Cy Stoner
A: Honda offers a vacuum as standard equipment on its top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite model. Developed with the help of ShopVac, this powerful little guy lives in a compartment on the left wall of the cargo area and has a hose long enough to reach the front.
Q: I have a question. If you have time to respond I'd appreciate it. . . .
In 2010, I purchased a certified 2008 Mercedes E350 . . . with an extended warranty through 9/14. It developed a slow leak in one of the tires. When my tire guy took the tire off to look for the problem, he found a weld on the inside lip of the rim. The weld cracked and therefore the leak. Since Mercedes sold the car to me as a certified vehicle, shouldn't they be responsible for replacing the rim? Your opinion would be appreciated. - Tom Flemming
A: It seems to me that if a repaired rim fails under warranty, the dealer ought to make good.
Q: I was looking for your opinion on which of the following cars is a better value: a 2013 Infiniti G37x, whose $39,890 MSRP was discounted to $34,681, or a 2013 BMW 328i xDrive, which goes from $45,525 to $38,000. We test-drove both, and thought the G37x handled better. - Jordan Parkes
A: While the G37 is an athletic sedan, I would disagree that it handles better than a BMW 3 Series. The latter remains a benchmark for sports sedans. It's also true that the BMW has an outstanding resale value.
When you consider that these cars would have been discounted during the 2013 model year, and are closing in on two model years old, their current prices don't strike me as considerable discounts. - Al
A: Thank you for your response. We ended up with the BMW 328i and negotiated an additional $2K off. We ended up paying $36K for the car, which listed for $45,525. - Jordan