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Motormouth: What will a cold winter do to hybrid?

by Tribune News Service | November 20, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Jumper cables attached to a car battery. If you leave your hybrid at home, the winter cold will take a toll, writes Bob Weber. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Q: I am considering buying a hybrid car. When I lay up my conventional car whenever we go to Florida each winter, I connect a battery tender to the battery, and it seems to survive the winter very nicely. However, I am not sure what to do with a hybrid. What will happen to the car sitting for five months in a cold garage? What steps would I take to lay it up? -- S.K., Colchester, Connecticut

A: Short answer? The battery pack will get weak. If you leave your hybrid at home in Connecticut, the winter cold will take a toll. Connect the car's charger. This will maintain the drive battery pack much as your battery tender maintains the 12-volt battery. If possible, store the vehicle in a heated garage.

Q: I got a Tesla Model Y last year and have a few questions about drafting. How close do you need to be? How much does it help? How does it affect the truck you are drafting behind? Do truckers care?

BTW love the car and will never buy another ICE [internal combustion engine] car. -- D.B., Chicago

A: Drafting, or following closely enough to take advantage of the leading vehicle's eddy, is never a good idea. It leaves very little time to react in an emergency. For example, if the front vehicle swerves to avoid an obstacle, you may not have enough time to avoid the same. If you draft behind a truck, especially a semi, the driver cannot see you. There are blind spots for semi drivers: front, left side, right side and behind. Behind is the worst. If you cannot see the tractor's mirrors the driver cannot see you behind the trailer. Truckers do not like that. Leave drafting to race car drivers on a closed track.

Q: I purchased a Porsche SUV in Florida 5 years ago and it's never been in Indiana during the winter. Do I need to worry about the antifreeze or is that always cared for by the manufacturer, no matter where you purchase it? If not, where is the best place or way to test the level of winter protection? -- J.V., Dyer, Indiana

A: Although we still call it antifreeze, the stuff in the radiator is more correctly called coolant. It not only prevents freezing but coolant increases the boiling temperature to well above that of plain water. If you opted for the prepaid Porsche Scheduled Maintenance Plan (PSMP) you can rest easy. The plan provides maintenance at the factory recommended scheduled services. But you can have any qualified technician, dealer or independent, test the coolant quality.

Q: We have a 2019 Subaru that's coming up on a 40,000-mile maintenance check. The closest dealer is over an hour away, one way, and they want about $1,400 for all the necessary things to be done. My question is: Do we need to spend the time and money to visit a dealer, or can we just bring it to an established local garage and have them do the work? -- B.F., Pahrump, Nevada

A: You can certainly, and lawfully, take your car to a local shop for service. Just keep all documentation including the repair order and invoice, the names and part numbers of any components such as the oil filter. This will keep the warranty intact unless your car has exceeded the 5-year/50,000 mile Subaru powertrain warranty. To get the full lowdown on this topic, look up the federal Magnuson--Moss Warranty Act.

(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.tribunegmail.com.)

©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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