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I have noticed increased reference to all-weather tires. What is the difference compared to all-season tires? – Brad

Both are compromise or three-season tires. All-season tires were developed at the behest of vehicle manufacturers and their dealers, primarily in southern climates where winter conditions are mild and snow and ice occasional. They are compounded to remain flexible over a wide range of temperatures but become harder and less effective when temperatures drop below the freezing mark. All-weather tires are a relatively new idea, surfacing about three years ago. They were developed to allow drivers to have one set of wheels year-round – saving the expense of a second set of wheels and the difficulty of arranging storage. But they suffer at the other extreme, losing some effectiveness in the heat of summer.

Wacky wipers

The wipers on my 2011 Jetta will not work when the weather is cold and snowy. They do work, however, once the car warms up. My Volkswagen dealer can't find the problem. – Merk

Don't work at all? That has to be some kind of thermal or other circuit sending an "overload" message to the wiper motor. Try another dealer.


When I had my winter tires put on, I was told the usual "wheels must be re-torqued after 100 km" by the shop. I've read conflicting opinions and views about the necessity of getting the wheels re-torqued. Is this a serious safety issue? What is the reason for this, and does the type of wheel (aluminium, steel) matter? – Konrad in Saskatoon

This is one of those areas where the theory is correct but, in practice, is seldom done. Yes, the type of wheel/metal can be a problem. But there could also be a small amount of dirt or rust, a difference in temperature between the wheel and what is fastened to that, that could cause the nuts to loosen slightly. The shop is correct in that the torque should be checked after a short period.

Gas tank trouble

I'm having trouble filling my gas tank. The gas is backing up, which causes the pump to shut off. Can I drop a siphon hose down the neck into the tank? Will that fill my tank without problems? – Lance

The vent line or tube has become compromised – it's bent or pinched. To prevent liquid from leaking out when the tank is being filled and allow fumes to be returned to the tank instead of released to the atmosphere, a regulation was passed – as part of emission rules – requiring manufacturers to vent the tank. It is not uncommon for this slim connection between the tank and filler to be bent or pinched and closed off. When that happens, there is nowhere for the air in the tank to escape to as the fuel flows into the tank. Unless you can get under the car to see the problem, this is a cure best left to a dealer technician.

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