Motormouth: Winter tires make a difference in snowy climes
By Bob Weber, Chicago Tribune
Tribune Content Agency|
Oct 18, 2019 | 3:03 PM
Q: I purchased a 2019 Golf R, and everyone is telling me I’ll need another set of wheels and tires for the winter. They are telling me that my specific tire is designed to be a “summer” tire. They are low-profile Continental tires that are currently on the car. Do I really need to do this?
A: According to the experts at Tire Rack, it is wise to install winter tires on your car if you live in the Snow Belt. All-season tires are OK if you live in the South and seldom see snow. Summer performance tires won’t cut it. Chicago sees an abundance of the white stuff, so, yes, we suggest winter tires. A set of winter tires may last for about six seasons and having them already mounted and balanced saves time and money every year you swap them. We recently drove identical cars on the Notre Dame hockey rink ice, and the difference in control and stopping was dramatic between all season and winter tires. Short answer: Get four winter tires.
Q: I grew up in the early 1940s when all cars were controlled mechanically. In the mid-1970s, Chrysler started using computers and sensors. Then everybody else jumped on board. Now everything is controlled by the cars’ computers: brakes, engine, seats, windows, climate, mirrors, stability, etc. When this electronic stuff starts failing, what is a person supposed to do? I drive three GM cars, 1998, 2000 and 2004. My oldest car needs a Steering Wheel Position Sensor; I get a constant warning on the DIC.
A: It may be a small consolation, but electronic controls are more reliable and durable than the mechanical stuff. For instance, the electronically controlled windows’ motors are more likely to fail than the electronics. Sure, sensors fail, but they are usually easily replaced.
Q: I volunteer at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Four times this year so far, I found when I tried to start my car to go home my key fob did not work. I had to open the fob to open the door with the key. Then the alarm goes off. The first time this happened I called my wife to bring the extra fob to help start the car. We tried the extra fob and it didn’t work. I called the Jeep Dealer and they said to start the car pressing the fob on the start button instead of your finger. Sure enough, the car started. One day while starting my volunteer assignment, I saw a garden guest sitting on a lawn with her Jeep fob in her hands. I asked if she has a problem starting her car. Sure enough, she did. I started her car with her fob pressed on the start button. Do you have any idea why this happens?
—J.B. Northbrook, Ill.
A: There are a number of receiving antennas around the vehicle. They get the signal from your key fob that you are approaching. The start button needs that signal for both starting and security tasks. Jeeps have the potential for problems if removable body sections are missing. Touching the start button with the fob ensures that the signal is received. This applies to weak key fob batteries, too.
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.
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