Motormouth: Customer satisfaction repairs are not required by law

Tribune Content Agency

Q: I have a 2016 Chevy Impala with 22,500 miles. I had a flat tire last October and stopped on the side of the road to change it. I found at least 4 inches of water in the spare tire well. No indications of water on the carpet. I found out that GM had a program bulletin on the 2014 Impala for a rear taillamp gasket seal that causes this problem.

Unfortunately, GM will not correct this problem because there was no recall was issued for the 2016 model. Customer care at GM said I need a repair invoice and maybe they will reimburse partial payment.

— K.A., Chicago

A: Unlike a safety recall, customer satisfaction repairs are not required by law. If you are handy with a screwdriver, you can replace the gaskets yourself. For about $20 you can get both gaskets (part numbers 23211647 and 23211648 for the carryover model). They have a peel and stick backing. If you prefer, any repair shop can probably do the job in under an hour.

Q: You have answered a few questions about tire pressure monitors. I had a problem and discovered our spare tire was out of air and hence triggered sensor light, not a faulty sensor.

— R.K., Chicago

A: Good point. Besides tripping the warning light, a low spare does you no good should you need it.

Q: I use ammonia and water to clean house windows. It leaves no streaks. Anything wrong with using the same on car windows? Not only does ammonia clean quickly, but after the odor of the ammonia dissipates, all smells are gone. It’s a miracle cleaner and air freshener and cuts grease better than any other cleaner. And it’s cheaper.

— E.J., Chicago

A: Ammonia is a great cleaner, but I have one caution about using it on car windows: If they are aftermarket tinted, ammonia may harm the tint and, in some cases, damage the film.

Q: I am tired of losing money in broken outside (coin-operated) air compressors to fill my tires. Could you recommend a shop air compressor? I never had any luck with the ones that plug into the cigarette lighter.

— L.F., Chicago

A: I have a 15-year-old Craftsman air compressor that still works — sometimes. I suspect you want something similar that you can plug into a wall outlet, not an industrial shop compressor costing $1,000. If so, there are many to choose from for less than $100 at places such as Lowe’s and Home Depot and Harbor Freight Tools.

Q: When something in the undercarriage of my 2012 Mazda 5 with over 100,000 miles started rattling, I took the car in to the shop, thinking that it might be my exhaust system. My mechanic said it was a corroded heat shield and removed it. He told me that I did not need to replace it because “cars in the ‘70s didn’t have them,” and it wasn’t worth spending the money to replace in an 8-year-old car because they “don’t really do anything.”

Although I was happy to not spend any money, I’m still wondering if this is good advice.

— J.U., Chicago

A: Cars in the 1970s didn’t have a lot of things, so that isn’t a valid argument. Heat shields were installed beneath the catalytic converters that appeared in the mid-70s. Prior to the adoption of shields, cars were catching fire when parked over dry leaves or tall grass. At only 100,000 miles, your Mazda is too young to be burned at the stake.



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 Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Fourth Floor, Chicago, IL 60611 or


©2020 Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.