Q: Every time I bring my 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe in for an oil change, they sell me an air filter. Is it necessary every six months? If yes, can I do it myself?
A: Engine air filters can typically last two to three years before needing to be replaced. The exception would be if you are driving on very dusty roads or even in areas with high pollen content.
The Hyundai Santa-Fe has one of the easiest air filters to change. The air filter housing is air free and the filter slides out easily. Check the filter at every oil change and replace it when dirty.
Q: Can my wheel – which was damaged after hitting a curb – really be repaired? Can I do it myself?
A: Wheel repair is very common these days, but it depends on the amount of damage. Appearance issues caused by curb impact are usually easily repaired.
Larger damage such as bent wheels and cracks should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
You can certainly repair minor damage yourself and repaint the wheel and even fill in the chips with epoxy. Like any painting project, preparation is the key to a successful result.
Q: I have a 2010 Honda Accord sedan. The TPMS light comes on intermittently for several days. Not the low pressure indicator; we know how to add air. This is a problem because when this light is on, your ability to get out of traction control/VSA is disabled. Getting out of the snow is a dangerous problem when the system is turned off.
It’s now my 18 year old son’s car and honestly it adds a degree of worry on winter nights.
I’ve been to four mechanics, including a tire center, two independent shops and a dealership. Their remedy was to “reset the TPMS”. They say the TPMS in the tire shows it is charged and connected/transmitting.
This has been a frustrating issue as it leaves no error code trails and keeps happening. Should we proactively replace the on-board TPMS, or should we report the car and not use it in the winter? It is a good car that we have maintained well. Thoughts?
A: There are several possibilities, although the most common problem is that the wheel sensors are nearing the end of their useful life. Typically, the type of wheel sensor in your car that electronically transmits tire pressure to the computer has a lifespan of about 10 years.
The most economical time to replace these sensors is when you replace the tires. There are also good quality and cost effective replacements that can be an alternative to the factory part.
When it comes to parking the car for the winter, TPMS and stability control are safety systems, and that’s a personal decision. These systems are useful for a new driver, although when you were his age your car did not have these systems.
Q: Recently I saw a photo on Facebook of a truck for sale, and the window sticker had a charge of $499 for lifetime nitrogen filling in the tires. The sticker also had a market adjustment of $10,000. Are these real numbers? Is Nitrogen Worth It?
A: In these strange times, with semiconductor shortages and supply chain issues, there is a shortage of new (and used) cars.
For this reason, some dealerships mark the cars. As long as consumers are willing to pay the price, the market will determine the true price of the vehicle.
As for nitrogen, since regular air is 78% nitrogen and it’s free, I would never pay for a set of nitrogen tires.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email [email protected] and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.