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    Tuesday, February 27, 2024

    Motormouth: Can we use that charging station too?

    A gray Tesla Model 3 charging at a free garage charging station. (Dreamstime/TNS)

    Q: We have a new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E and have a question regarding remote charging stations.

    We have noticed many of the charging stations located in shopping center parking lots say, “Tesla cars only.” Does this mean only Teslas can charge at these locations? I do realize most of these units were installed when only Teslas were on the road. Would charging our Mustang Mach E at the Tesla charging units cause any damage to our car? I’m sure that owners of other models of electric cars would be interested in knowing if they too could use the Tesla charging stations.

    — D.G., Northbrook, Ill.

    A: In July 2021, Elon Musk reportedly said that the chargers will become available to all electric car owners. It is expected that the rollout will begin in Europe. Currently (pun intended), only Tesla owners can use the Superchargers, which not only gives incentive for people to buy Tesla vehicles, but avoids backups of cars waiting to use them.

    Q: Have been driving Toyota vehicles for many years and now that I am getting ready to give up driving, I am faced with a dilemma. I am 93 and have a 1999 Toyota Sienna with low mileage and it's rust-free.

    The vehicle sits in my driveway with a power steering leak. I tried stop the leak to no avail. It cannot be driven this way so what is my best way to get it fixed or sold?

    — J.M., Syracuse, N.Y.

    A: Most power steering leaks are not severe enough to prevent driving to a repair shop. Leaks from the rack-and-pinion steering unit are common and may cost around $500 to fix. But the leak could be as simple as a hose, which would cost much less. If repairs do not fit your budget, tell the potential buyer about the leak.

    Q: I recently bought a 2018 Equinox and it's equipped with "auto stop." Couple of questions: Does it really save THAT much fuel and does it have any impact on the life of the starter? If it's not really that fuel efficient and causes more wear and tear on the starter, is there any way to disable it?

    — J.C., Chicago

    A: Maybe you don’t save a whole lot on fuel costs, but if a million cars save even a little, it makes a significant difference. To automakers, improvements in fuel economy help meet corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. To the rest of us, it helps clean the air. The starter is robust.

    Q: In 1978 I bought the first-year model of the Dodge Omni. The dealership owner was apologetic for the amber direction signals in the rear. He said that soon all cars would have them. I had previously owned a 1970 Volvo, so I thought they were a great step forward for American cars. What happened? Did they fall victim to the designers or accountants? Amber direction signals, appropriately placed, should be the law.

    — C.S., Norfolk, Va.

    A: Amber rear signals are required in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa, and most of South America, but not in the U.S. I am not sure why, but I have a hunch that there hasn’t been a study or data to prove that amber lenses are safer. Anecdotal evidence does not cut it for NHTSA which has other issues to keep it busy.


    (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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