Motormouth: How to get spattered paint off car
Q: I hit a new traffic paint line and got a boatload of paint under my wheel wells, not just spatter but a lot caked on about [1/8] inch thick, besides some spatter. I tried Goof Off paint remover and regular paint and varnish remover for wood and plastics. Neither one did anything. Any ideas?
— M.J., Chicago
A: You didn't just hit it, you drove a mile on that line. The easiest solution is to spray the fender liners in the wheel wells with black paint. To remove paint from body panels, a professional bodyshop tech we interviewed suggested soaking with automotive adhesive remover (available at most parts stores) to soften the paint. Be patient. Scrape the paint off using with a plastic tool like the kind used to apply body putty. I use plastic razor blades for stuff like this.
Q: I am looking forward to getting a new car. My hearing bothers me, so I have been searching on the internet for reports of the decibel level inside the cabins of SUVs. In particular, I am interested in the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, Honda CRV Touring and the Buick Envision. So far, no luck. Is there a way to find the cabin decibel levels to find the quietest vehicle?
— T.G., Chicago
A: To measure sound pressure, you need a decibel meter. What is a decibel: According to the Hearing Health Foundation, a decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement for sound. A-weighted decibels, abbreviated dBA, are an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by our ears. You can spend anywhere from $20 on up for a meter, but that seems foolish if you only need it once. I suggest downloading a free app to your smartphone and test driving the cars.
Q: A number of years ago, the key for my Merc Marquis' factory wheel locks went missing. Called the dealer's parts counter who gave me a contact at the lock's customer service. They required a sharp close-up emailed pic of the lug lock plus $35 for a matching socket and it was a done deal. Hope this helps your readers.
— J.S. Elgin, Ill.
A: Good advice. Thank you.
Q: A shut-in senior friend for whom I've been doing errands for years at no cost to her (except for out-of-pocket expenses, including automotive ones), has complained that I am cheating her when I started to contend that automotive expenses really include more than gas. When I explained that such expenses include not only regular oil changes and other routine liquid checks, but also front end suspension spring replacements and undercarriage body work so that the car doesn't collapse from rusting through (not to mention air conditioning and heating, both of which died years ago, plus a badly needed new/used set of tires) she has balked. Can you advise very approximately how much is a realistic estimate of the true cost of operating my car on a per mile basis?
— D.C., Chicago
A: I use my car for business and have always ascribed to the Internal Revenue Service (yes, that IRS) allowance. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the standard mileage rate is 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (down from 58 cents in 2019). This accounts for fuel, maintenance, insurance, wear and tear, and so on.
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.
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