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Motormouth: Batteries and heat

Q: I live in Las Vegas and must replace my 12-volt battery every three years because of the heat. Will I have to worry about this with the electric cars? Batteries don't come cheap and the new ones are probably more expensive than the current ones.

— R.P., Las Vegas

A: Your concern is shared by the carmakers. But replacing the battery pack is less a concern than replacing a car that catches fire! Air cooling has been the traditional method, but liquid cooling is becoming the current choice. Coming along slowly is heat pump cooling. A heat pump has an additional advantage of routing some of the heat into the cabin in colder weather. Currently, cabin heat comes from an electric heater, which consumes battery power.

Q: It seems that whenever I have a long drive, no matter the direction or the time of day, I need a sun visor that works, not one that covers the top 3 inches or so of the windshield or side window. My cars have the little extension or the slide on the rod feature. None of them deal with the blinding sun that is low on the horizon. Have you heard or read of any attempts at improving the safety?

— K.K., Urbana, Illinois

A: I feel your pain. The rising and setting sun is blinding during rush hours, especially in the spring and fall. And it especially affects commuters. They can reasonably expect traffic jams unless it’s cloudy. With all the technology and brain power in the auto industry, there should be a solution, but I have not yet seen one. (Maybe it is because I am still sun blinded.) Sometimes I wear a baseball cap and tilt my head down to block the glare.

Q: I have owned two Buick Rendevous and two Buick Enclaves. Wanting to downsize somewhat, eight months ago I bought a 2020 Encore. Within two weeks I noticed fumes from trucks and traffic coming into the car when I was on the highway. Now the fumes are worse even driving around town. There is no recirculate button. I went to my dealer and that was a total waste of time. They took it on the road with the ionizer blowing full blast and said I didn't have a problem. I talked to a GM plant manager; he said no fumes should be coming in when I am running the ionizer. Hope you can up with a solution.

— J.M., Chicago

A: First of all, what do plant managers know about ionizers? Their area of expertise is philodendrons and palms and stuff. Ionizers are great for most stuff, but they can’t eliminate gaseous odors. Ionizers work by getting particles such as pollen to clump together making them large enough to be caught by the cabin air filter. What you smell may also be due to outgassing of the vinyl components inside the car.

Q: My last two vehicles had daytime driving lights, which gave me a small sense of security that other vehicles could see me OK during the day. The car I'm looking at now for possible purchase doesn't have this option. Can these be installed as an option in a car if a buyer wants them?

— B.C., Dennis, Massachusetts

A: You can install aftermarket daytime driving lights and there are a gazillion brands out there. I suggest you buy a kit from a reputable company like Phillips or Hella. All the DRLs with which I am familiar are LEDs.

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(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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