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I recently purchased a 2014 Mazda3. Would you please inform me on proper driving techniques to protect the engine and transmission? I have a strong mechanical background but zero experience with a variable speed automatic transmission. – Garth

Not to worry. You do not have continuously variable transmission (CVT). What you have is a conventional automatic with a torque converter that has been engineered to lock up as low as 1,500 rpm, eliminating much of the slippage and losses associated with this device. Treat it as you would any automatic. Put it in gear and drive.

Heated storage

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Are there special maintenance things I should do when putting a car into heated storage for the winter? – Bob

A whole bunch of them: give it a thorough cleaning, change the oil, put a couple of extra pounds pressure in the tires, use a "battery tender" to maintain the battery and all the internal settings, place a package of desiccant under the hood and one in the passenger compartment to keep moisture at bay.

Headlights and horn

The headlights and the horn in my 2012 Honda Civic LX four-door sedan are lacking. I'm looking at a retrofit HID kit that would fit the Honda. Do you see any inconvenience? Could I install the Honda Accord horn on my Civic?

Many of those horns in use today are embarrassing rather than attention-getting. This is a relatively easy swap for one from the Accord or almost any other, provided it will fit and the electrical demand is the same. The lights are a different story. There are two issues with improving lighting: the source and the lens, which is the most important of the two. The lens at the front of the unit determines where the light goes, the cutoff to the top and sides, and it "aims" the light.

Putting a powerful bulb or source of light in the headlight without the proper lens results in a blinding and a poorly controlled spray of bright light. We have all seen that, mostly bluish in colour, coming from an inexpensive aftermarket bulb in an older vehicle. There are bulbs that give a bright light and there are kits that do a proper job – look for the latter and expect to spend hundreds of dollars.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at

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