Steering You Right with Sharon Peters: Reader Roundup

2013-12-11T08:00:00Z Steering You Right with Sharon Peters: Reader RoundupSharon L. Peters CTW Features
December 11, 2013 8:00 am  • 

Q: I heard part of a report that seemed to be indicating that Great Britain is banning all non-hybrids sometime in the future. Can this be true?

A: No. One party in England proposed a bill that would, in effect, essentially ban all non-hybrid cars by 2040. No one is suggesting that will ever come into being.

Q: I read a lot about plug-in electric cars and how wonderful they are. I am wondering how many plug-in electric cars are actually in use in the U.S.?

A: Approximately 120,000 to 140,000 plug-ins have been sold in this country.

Q: I drove my brother’s BMW for a week while helping him after he had wrist surgery and I especially loved one feature: a driver armrest that slides back and forth to be in the place where you really need the support for your arm. I’ve never really experienced this feature before and I’m wondering if any other carmakers have them.

A: Sliding front armrests in the center console are becoming increasingly popular, often as options. You can find them, for example, on some models of Saabs and Infinitis, and on the 2014 Nissan Sentra. A different type of center-console moving armrest is offered by Audi – it moves up and down.

Q: My husband runs his tires a little “low” for what he says will be a softer ride –about 5 or 6 pounds less than recommended on the door. I’m pretty sure this isn’t good, but what are the potential problems with doing this?

A: The list is so long. Steering precision is reduced, as is cornering stability. Tread life, in the long run, will be reduced. There can be a buildup of heat, leading to tire failure in some cases.

A study a few years back by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that driving on tires under-inflated by 25 percent or more are three times more likely to be involved in a crash related to tire problems than vehicles with proper inflation.

Moreover, under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by as much as 6 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 50 percent to 80 percent of cars on the road are bouncing about on under-inflated tires.

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