Q: I have a 2014 Jetta. I discovered during a heavy downpour that the sunroof is prone to leaking. The VW dealership declared it a maintenance issue, which is ridiculous. I paid $1,500 for them to replace drain tubes that I could not know existed. I wrote VW, who denied any responsibility. Do you have any advice on how to prevent a repeat?
A: This happens to cars on which the sunroof is not always closed when parked. Dust, dirt and other junk can collect in the channels that normally direct the water into the tubes. Rain then carries that stuff into the drain tubes. After time, the tubes get clogged. Keeping the tubes clean, or occasionally cleaning them, prevents interior precipitation problems.
Q: I'm having a problem getting basic tire rotations/services done on the Michelin tires I bought in Minnesota five years ago. I live in Arizona now, where the tire service centers say they can't service tires older than five years because of the effects of the heat and sun. The tires are nowhere near the warranty mileage or tread depth wear indicators, and the car is garaged.
A: Industry experts say that any tire that has been properly stored has a useful service life of six to 10 years. Did you check the dates on the tires when you bought them? Of course not; only tire geeks do that. The tires might have aged on the shelf but are still OK. You should be able to find an independent shop that will handle your service needs.
Can a hose howl?
Q: I have a 1996 Mustang GT 4.6-liter. Lately, at idle or low revs, a trumpet-like howl comes from under the hood. It stops when I push the accelerator. Of course, it won't do this in the presence of my mechanic. Any thoughts?
A: Check the hose connections for the fresh air intake system. A loose clamp might be the cause of the noise. Some Fords had an issue with the idle air control (IAC) valve, and updated hoses alleviated the problem.
A rolling billboard
Q: I know this isn't your typical question, but it's one that's plaguing our neighborhood. A neighbor drives a car encased in shrink-wrapped advertising and parks on our street. Over the winter, the car constantly blared out "ZOOM" in bright colors, big letters and imagery. Now it's screaming "SELF" financial in blues and oranges. Do people get paid to drive these monstrosities? Is it legal for anyone to do? And how hard is it to strip off?
A: Yes, people do get paid to offer their vehicles as rolling billboards. Carvertise, one of the largest, acts as a broker between the advertiser (or ad agency) and vehicle owner. Yes, it's legal. Car owners usually are compensated according to factors such as location and time on the road. The wrap is easily removed without damage.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to firstname.lastname@example.org.