AM not switched off just yet
BY BOB WEBER Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an Ase-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. Send questions along with name and town to email@example.com.
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
Question: Your recent comment, “…btw, cars are coming with no AM at all” provides me a great opportunity to bring to your attention a current effort in Congress to prevent that from happening, and for good reason, as AM radio plays a critical role in America’s Emergency Alert System. Ford, apparently realizing their error, just reversed their decision to remove AM radio from their 2024 vehicles but has yet to commit beyond 2024, giving even more reason for the bill’s passage. I enjoy your column! — Dennis Lyle, president and CEO, Illinois Broadcasters Association Answer: It’s true that AM radio has a much greater reach than FM. When I was a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, I could listen to a station broadcasting from Chicago. Ford deserves credit for offering AM, even in its all-electric Mustang Mach-e. Bills in both the U.S. House and Senate would require the AM band be available in automobiles. Thank you, Dennis, for tuning in. Question: I own a 2019 Mercedes E300 with 9,000 miles. I store it for the winter. I want to put it on a 12-volt battery maintenance charger. What is the correct amp amount? — G.M., Lisle, Illinois Answer: If you use a battery maintainer, a unit that’s able to float the charge, you needn’t choose an amperage. It will sense the battery’s need and only charge as necessary. But if you use a battery charger, one on which you select the amps, quit using it. It will cook your battery and kill it over the winter. Question: I have a 2017 Ford Flex Limited. It appears no matter where I am driving, my fuel average gauge is almost always showing 15.9 to 16.2 mpg. On a long road trip, it was up to 19.6 but immediately returned to that previous range. My mechanic says everything is showing normal. —M.C., Niles, Illinois Answer: Do you zero the fuel economy data before setting out on a trip? If not, it will keep averaging your fuel economy with all the past miles. Question: A few years ago, we relocated from Illinois to Tucson. With summer pavement temperatures reaching north of 150, I’m wondering how much of a negative impact this has on my tires and what, if anything, I can do to minimize excessive wear. — F.N., Tucson, Ariz. Answer: Yes, the heat takes its toll on tires. But vulcanized rubber does not melt. However, winter tires, made of softer compounds, wear quicker in summer than do summer or all-season tires. The best thing you can do is keep your tires inflated to the carmaker’s recommendation as found on the driver’s side door pillar. Over inflation does not help and under inflation is unsafe. Question: Regarding the recent article about a Chevy Malibu stop/start not working, I have a 2019 Chevy Cruze with stop/start, which stopped working when it was about 3 years old. I took it to the Chevy dealer to get it fixed just before the three-year warranty was up. The tech diagnosed it as a weak battery. They replaced the battery under warranty, and stop/ start worked fine after that. The stop/start technology requires a full battery charge at all times since the battery must handle the starting of the engine over and over. This is then a good indicator that a new battery is needed. — S.H., Henderson, Nev. Answer: Good point and worth reminding my readers. When the battery gets low, the stop/start feature is disabled to allow available power to be routed to more vital circuits.