CLICK & CLACK : Don't Let It Get Out

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 2000 Toyota Sienna van. My van tires lose air on a regular basis. The tire-trouble indicator on the dash is on most of the time. The front desk personnel say I only need to have the tire rims cleaned and sealed, and they should hold for two years. One of the mechanics, who seems to be knowledgeable, says it's because my rims are aluminum, and aluminum rims collect residue that gets between the tire and the rim. Who is right? -- Jean-Marie

TOM: I don't think it's the type of rims you have, Jean-Marie.

RAY: There are two things I'd look at. One is your valve stems: the black rubber things that stick out of the wheels. It's where you put the air when you fill up the tires. Valve stems can sometimes deteriorate and allow air to slowly leak out.

TOM: In fact, some 30 million Chinese-made valve stems were recently recalled because they may fail. They were manufactured for a company named Dill and distributed by Tech International. You can get them replaced for free.

RAY: The other possibility is that you have oxidation on the inside of the rims, and that's preventing the bead of the tire from sealing tightly against the rims. That's also a common source of slow leaks.

TOM: So, my suggestion would be to have your mechanic remove all of the tires, clean up the rims, replace the valve stems and remount the tires.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am having a serious case of separation anxiety from my old car. My old car was a 1989 Jeep Cherokee -- a perfect first car for a 16-year-old boy, if you ask me, as long as you ignored the fact that it had no air bags, working seatbelts or safety features of any kind. The car had tons of personality. For instance, there were two things I had to keep with me at all times: a stick and a baseball bat. The stick was used to hold the trunk open, and the baseball bat was to reach underneath and pummel the gas tank in an attempt to unstick the fuel pump every time the car wouldn't start. I gave this car a name: Marvin. Marvin and I went through a lot in the three years we were together.

Now my problem is this: Despite my love for my new car I find myself mentioning my old Jeep in conversations at least three times a week. In fact, I even have dreams about the car. It has been more than a year now, and I fear I will never be able to move on. Tom and Ray, I need your help. What can I do to get over my old car? -- James

RAY: My brother has had a series of complete and utter heaps throughout the years, each one worse than the last. They smelled bad. Parts would fall off as he drove them. No one else would ride with him.

TOM: Yeah. And what's the problem?

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