Motormouth: Buy the maintenance plan?

Q: I purchased a new 2020 Audi A4. The salesperson wanted me to buy a maintenance plan that would cover oil changes for four years. Can my local mechanic handle the changes? Is there a reason I would need to use the dealer?
— L.S., Davie, Fla.
A: Your warranty will not be voided if you choose to have oil changes, or any routine service, done by your local mechanic. You may even do the jobs yourself. All you need do is save the invoices and receipts as proof.
Q: I have two direct injection vehicles. When I get down to 3/4 tank I fill up. Does this mean I always have mostly really old gas in the tanks?
— A.A., Alsip, Ill.
A: You do not have mostly old gas in the tank. You are regularly freshening it with new gas. If you sip half a glass of beer and then top it off with some cold brew, the older stuff does not sit on the bottom of the glass.
Q: I enjoy reading your column in the Hartford Courant. In a recent column, “B.K.” of Henderson, Nev., asked about the coolant temperature in his 2005 Corvette. You replied that water boils at 212 degrees, or 226 with a 50/50 antifreeze mixture. Those would be the boiling points at sea level pressure. Most, if not all, engines have pressurized cooling systems that allow water to reach higher temperatures than that without boiling. This is why you shouldn’t remove the radiator cap from a hot engine. If any of the water in the engine is above the sea level boiling point and you release the pressure in the system, that water will immediately boil to steam and blast scalding coolant all over you.
— G.G., West Hartford, Conn.
A: You are absolutely right. Are you also a mechanic?
Q: I got my car in 2018 from a dealer in the San Diego area where I lived at the time. It was a “loss leader” sale. The car is in impeccable shape and I want to keep it that way. I conditioned the convertible top with a waterproof product. I’d like to know how often that is necessary. Also can you advise how I can best maintain the inner parts of the car’s convertible roof such as the rubber seals? The car is garaged in the winter.
— K.G., Chicago
A: I would treat the ragtop each spring when I take it out of hibernation. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes deterioration. Be sure your cleaner is also a UV blocker. Each fall, I suggest treating all rubber sealing parts with silicone protectant to keep them pliable.
Q: I own a 2020 Subaru Forester. The trip computer tracks miles per gallon. After I fill up the car I reset the trip computer. When I manually calculate the MPG, it is always about 2 MPG lower than that shown on the computer. I asked a friend about his Honda Civic and he has had the same experience. Is this a case of the automakers jacking us around again?
— J.T., Gurnee, Ill.
A: A couple miles per gallon either was is within margin of error so I would not lose any sleep over a lost MPG or two. Do you do your manual calculation the instant the trip odometer hits zero tenths of a mile?
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. Send questions along with name and town to

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