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you & your car

After the winter we've had, my car floor is covered in salt stains. How do you remove salt stains from a car's floor rug? - George in Mississauga

With some water, vinegar and care. You will need a brush, some absorbent rags and a vacuum, preferably a wet/dry shop vac. First off, vacuum the area carefully, getting as much dirt and dry salt out as possible. Do not press too hard as this will force the salt further into the carpet and perhaps damage the fibres.

Now spray a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water unto the affected areas and let stand for a few minutes. Use a brush to lightly loosen the salt. Avoid the temptation to rub the stained area heavily.

Spray and soak again, this time using an absorbent cloth to wipe the area. If you have a wet/dry vacuum use it to remove the remaining moisture. Do not use the family household vacuum – there will be expensive results from ingesting the salty water! If you do not have a wet/dry vacuum use absorbent towels or even a bunch of paper towels. Press down on the damp area with as much weight as possible.

Repeat as necessary, the salt will eventually come off and the vinegar smell will go away as well. Leave the windows open and enjoy some spring air, while driving with the HVAC system set to push air through the floor vents.

My last oil change was in May. My dealership says I should have the oil changed, but I am not near the kilometres that the oil change should be done. What should I do - Marie

The manufacture will recommend oil changes based on time and/or mileage. Follow those recommendations as laid out in the owner's manual.

A few months ago I noticed my 2003 Honda Civic was just barely turning over when I went to start it. Then one night as I was driving, the headlights became dimmer and the power windows & windshield wipers became weaker. I bought a new battery three months ago and don't drive often. A few days ago, I went to start it up, and I just heard rapid Clicking. I brought it back to the shop and they are now fully charging the battery.

I guess my question is, I will not be able to afford an alternator or starter or any other repair for about three more weeks. Is this amount of time going to deplete the full charge on my battery? - Vinnie

It sounds as if the problem is not the battery, but the charging circuit, likely the alternator or perhaps as easily as a slipping drive belt preventing the alternator from charging the battery. Even a new battery will not hold up unless it is constantly recharged. Before going any further, have the charging circuit checked by a competent technician with the proper equipment.

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