Q: I have a 2005 Honda Civic and a problem with my wiper blades. As the blade goes across the windshield, it puts a film over it which makes it difficult to see, especially at night. I replace my blades every year and the problem still exists. It is worse at night, especially when cars are coming toward me. Is there a product that cuts through tree sap, oil slick from other cars, etc.? I would like to drive at night when it rains and because of the "film" that is on the windshield I can't.
A: A product that has always worked well for me is Bon Ami. Before you do that though, I recommend you call one of the major windshield companies to be certain you don't have a plastic coated windshield. You should also check for a clear shield, which is a liquid applied to the vehicle at the factory before it is shipped. It's the responsibility of the dealer to make sure all the coating has been removed. If you live near a glass company, you may want to stop by and ask someone there to evaluate the condition of your windshield.
Q: I drive a 2001 Mazda Tribute V6 automatic with on-demand four-wheel drive. It just passed 30,000 miles. A few weeks ago, it was in for a routine oil and filter change at my local Mazda dealer. The service writer told me that it would need front brakes over the next 1,000 miles or so. When I asked for an estimate, it was $465. Even though the rotors show no evidence of scoring, I was told that in effect my Tribute has "throw away" rotors. Is that true, or could they be looking to make extra money on the brake job? I have owned cars for almost 40 years and unless I let the brakes go too far, the first pad change always included just turning the rotors and replacing the pads.
A: I checked out the disc specifications on the All Data information system. Mazda lists refinish specs for all models except for the Tribute. That leads me to believe the dealer is right concerning not being able to refinish the rotors. However, if you don't have a pulsation when you step on the brakes, and the rotor has a minimum of at least 0.8669-inch thickness, the rotors can be cleaned and re-used. If the rotors have to be changed, the price the dealer is quoting is proper for a quality brake job.
Q: I have been changing my oil since 1998. I have a 1997 Chevy S-10 pickup. I have been using 1040w or 1030w depending on the weather. I just had an oil change and the establishment used 530w. I have always used the heavier oil. Nothing appears to be different. What do you think?
A: That's a good question. Once again I looked at the All Data system for the recommended oil. The establishment put in the manufacturer's recommended oil. You will get better fuel mileage with this oil. However, If you start to develop oil consumption problems, you will have to change back to the oil weight that you have been using.
Car Care Tip: If you are flushing your coolant for winter, don't forget to turn the heat to its highest setting to remove all the old antifreeze from the heater core.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears Sunday in WheelsNorth. Write to Larry c/o Sunday North, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.