Q: I've had two flat tires in the last three years, one on each of my cars. Both times, I found it impossible to remove the lug nuts, even with a large star wrench I keep in each car. Both times I had to call AAA and the young guys that came out almost injured themselves loosening the nuts. Finally I bought telescoping lug wrenches and, with the extended leverage, the nuts can be budged. I mentioned this to the tire dealer and my regular mechanic. They both said that they had to tighten the nuts to specifications.
What's with this? It didn't used to be difficult to change a flat tire.
E.B., Boyertown, Pa.
A: I certainly hope the tire dealer and your regular mechanic use a torque wrench when tightening the nuts. Typically, that is between 90 and 120 foot pounds. Additionally, sometimes there is a reaction between the steel lug nuts and the alloy wheels that complicates things. I have a 12-volt impact wrench and keep it in the trunk for those special occasions.
Q: Recently you answered a question about tires deflating when it gets colder. My question is in the opposite direction. Is there a concern that after a cold spell with the tires properly inflated and then warmer weather, will the tires over-inflate as the air expands from the heat? I have never heard this discussed before. So, maybe it is not an issue.
R.S., Olympia Fields, Ill.
A: In general, tires that are slightly over-inflated present no danger. Under-inflated tires on the other hand, may flex a lot which causes friction which gets them hot and may lead to tire failure. By the way, don't fall for the bogus service of replacing the winter air with summer air. I admit to using that stale practical joke on difficult customers when we worked in the shop.
Q: I had a red squirrel take up residence in my 2010 F-150. It deposited black walnuts in the windshield wiper housing via the hole around the wiper drive. It also damaged the hood insulation. My two-prong attack was to spray deer repellent in the wiper housing and under the hood as well, and I used a rat zapper to catch the squirrel. The rat zapper did in the squirrel and I haven't had a problem since. But now every time I go around a corner, I hear the walnuts rolling around. I haven't figured out an easy way to get them out.
A secondary problem is my wife won't ride in my truck because of the stink from the deer repellent.
A: It is relatively easy to remove the cowl and gain access to the wiper transmission and the walnuts. After removing the wiper arms, the cowl can be popped out. The only tricky part is removing the wipers. And if Febreze doesn't work on the smell, have a professional detailer do an odor elimination.
Q: The digital clock in my 2013 Ford Fusion gains a minute every few weeks. No, I'm not concerned that this might make me inadvertently early for something, but rather that there is an underlying electrical problem that might turn into something more serious in the future. Any ideas?
J.C., Yardley, Pa.
A: According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, the faster that you travel, the more time slows down. Floor it! Oh, and I don't think the clock indicates impending problems.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest.
Send questions along with name and town to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 160 N. Stetson Ave., Fourth Floor, Chicago, IL 60601or firstname.lastname@example.org.