Q: I own a 2010 Toyota Venza. My entire car floods from what the Toyota dealer tells me is caused by a spider crawling up into my A/C drain and building a nest. The nest blocks the so water overflows into my car. The water is rug deep 0.5 to 1 inch and totally saturates everything. To cost of the repair and change of rugs etc. is $2,700 each time this occurs. This has happened to me twice now I feel that this problem can be corrected. If Toyota would put a piece of net or nylon over the opening or use a valve that lets water out but doesn't let anything else in. My dealer is of the same mind. He says he gets a few of these types of problems a month. I just got off the phone with Toyota Corporate office regarding this case (which I first logged a year ago). I have heard nothing from them since last year and their representative tells me I shouldn't expect to hear from them. They don't care if they lose a customer. They don't care if I sue them. They just don't care. I told the case manager that Toyota should reimburse me for these two incidents (total is now up to $5,600 on a car a purchased 1.5 years ago.) The answer is "Definitely not, Toyota doesn't do that."
— M.N., Ocean, N.J.
A: You certainly have the right to sue or to look into the Lemon Law for satisfaction, but we have not heard of a pattern failure of the evaporate drain hoses. The end of most hoses has a lip. It looks as though the hose was crimped flat at the end. This keeps bugs and debris out of the system. Ask your dealer, or an independent shop, to install such a hose and those itsy bitsy spiders will have to look for a different water spout.
Q: I enjoy your column and read it every week. I finally have a question for you. We just bought a new Toyota RAV 4. In reading the Maintenance Guide it tells about "Toyota's Long-Life Coolant" described as a "non-silicate, non-amine, non-borate ethylene glycol coolant with long-life hybrid organic acid technology (i.e., a combination of low phosphates and organic acids)." The prescribed change point for replacing the coolant is 100,000 miles or 120 months. Ten years seems like an awfully long time before changing the antifreeze. What do you think about such a long interval before changing the Toyota antifreeze? Should I change it sooner — say after 50,000 miles or 5 years?
— B.B., Countryside, Ill.
A: The proliferation of company-specific and vehicle-specific fluids continues unabated making everyone from the car owner to chemical manufacturers crazy. Pity the parts stores and shops that have to stock them all. Pity the car owners who question this zaniness. We can't answer your question with authority because we don't yet know how long the new product will actually last in the field. But we would not blame car owners for over-maintaining if for no other reason than peace of mind.
Q: I own three cars, two of which have high mileage: A 2001 Sequoia with about 112,000 miles on it, and a 2007 Infiniti G35X with 110,000 miles, and a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 70,000 miles. The Toyota was purchased new, the Infiniti and Jeep were purchased coming off a two year lease. All scheduled maintenance has been done to all three cars. I use brand name gasoline in all three and we purchase the gas from stations I am confident pump a lot of gasoline. I use high mileage synthetic blend oil in all three cars. I change the oil and filter in the Toyota and Jeep about every 3,500 to 4,000 miles and about every 5,500 to 6,000 miles in the Infiniti. Should I be using an aftermarket fuel system cleaner, and are the oil change frequencies OK in your opinion?
— R.S., Libertyville, Ill.
A: No and yes. You appear to buy top tier gasoline with plenty of additives already blended in so, no, you don't need a gas additive. You also seem to change the synthetic blend oil regularly so, yes, 5,000 would be fine for all of the vehicles.
Q: I have a 2002 Toyota Highlander with 103,000 miles. Starting last year we have noticed a terribly disturbing musty odor inside the car that cannot be disguised or covered up by aerosols or fragrances of any kind. The smell is not due to anything left sitting in the car itself, but actually appears to be originating from the vent system. I have changed the cabin air filter but this hasn't helped at all. Do you know how we may address this problem? It has become almost intolerant (sic).
— D.K. Baltimore
A: We have answered similar questions a zillion times, most recently a couple weeks ago. But we keep getting it so, for those readers who aren't keeping up, here's the deal. Moisture in the warm, dark environs of the air conditioner evaporator housing breeds microorganisms as the car sits overnight. When you turn on the HVAC the next day, it stinks until it dries out. Professionals have treatments to keep this in check and you can help by turning off the A/C and switching the blower to high for the last 10 minutes of your drive which will help dry out the housing. You may notice that the problem goes away in the winter.
Q: I have a 2005 Ford Taurus with 120K miles. At 60K I blew the transmission on the Kennedy Expressway at rush hour. That was fun, but thankfully a state trooper helped, and one of the Minute Men towed it to safe zone. The dealer replaced the transmission with a rebuilt. This was covered by a one year warranty when I bought the car used. I currently drive to work about 300 miles a week locally and some expressway. Should I have the filter and fluid replaced at this mileage or let it ride?
— C.L. Mokena, Ill.
A: As we said elsewhere in this column, it doesn't hurt to over-maintain your car and getting a transmission flush every 60,000 miles is seems reasonable. We change ours every 50,000 miles.
Q: I own at 2006 Saturn Ion Coupe that has about 100,000 miles on it. My driver's side windshield wiper is streaking. I've replaced the wiper several times per my mechanic's advice. Now it seems that the problem is not the wiper, but the arm. Unfortunately for me, I can't turn to Saturn for parts and GM no longer makes the part. I've tried eBay and the local junk yard but no one seems to have a spare one laying around. Also, since I will be getting the part from someone other than the manufacturer I can't find a mechanic that will put it on for me. With winter coming I really need to find this part and get it installed. Any suggestions?
— N.H. Round Lake, Ill.
A: Either people are blowing smoke at you or you are not searching very hard. At only the second site we clicked, we found the left wiper arm (not the blade) for $36.30 (list $55.00). It was apparently in stock since, when added to our cart then we were asked about shipping methods. Now, go back to your computer and type http://www.gmpartscenter.net/ into your browser. As for finding an installer, we frankly don't know any who would notdo the job. No, we didn't buy it for you.