BIZ-AUTO-MOTORMOUTH-QA-DMT

Sure, you can paint a new car, but there is an alternative. Get it wrapped.

Q: I recently bought a new 2021 Mazda SUV. The color is white, and at the time I thought that was what I wanted. But now I am not so sure. I am going to keep the vehicle but feel that I would like it to be a different color. Is it OK to repaint a new car? Would the paint job work, or would there be a problem? Any insight you could give me would be helpful. — M.B., Las Vegas

A: Sure, you can paint a new car, but there is an alternative. Get it wrapped. 3M makes a paint wrap film specifically designed to wrap cars and trucks that is not permanent. Hate the new look? Change it. It won’t damage the original paint if you want to go back to plain vanilla.

Q: I am a retired mechanic with 42 years of experience, and I read your column every week in the Boston Herald. I had a car several years ago that had run-flat tires. The rear tire had a 4-by-1-inch hole on the inner sidewall big enough for me to put all four fingers into the hole, up to my thumb – and I have a big hand. I drove into the shop with the tire malfunction indicator light on. What has happened to run-flats? — C.C., Bridgewater, Massachusetts

A: Run-flat tires were great in theory, but not so great in the real world. Yes, you could drive up to 50 miles at up to 50 mph, but you had to buy a new tire. Many motorists were rudely awakened to the real world when they were told the replacement cost — close to $75 over the cost of a normal tire. Plus, the tires often need to be replaced in pairs. Not many tire dealers stock them so you may have to wait for overnight shipping. Less than 20 percent of cars today are equipped with run-flat tires.

Q: Isn’t it about time that automobile manufacturers began making toll transponders an integral part of their product placed somewhere on the vehicle other than the windshield? It seems to me that a generic transponder could be programmed to be compatible with E-Z Pass, Sun Pass or other toll collection systems. — H.H., Melrose, Massachusetts

A: I like the idea and maybe that day may come. Meanwhile, various states and tollway authorities need to know about the vehicle to which the transponder is registered. Each transponder has an identification number stored in its circuitry. The transponder’s identification number is stored in a database and contains information about the user, the vehicle and other info. Borrowing (or stealing) someone else’s transponder is a no-no. Plus, not all systems use the same hardware.

Q: I recently read your recommendation that since most tires are flattened by punctures and not sidewall damage that the need for a spare is low. My question to you is, if you get a flat and have no spare, what difference does it make to the tire whether it was caused by a puncture or sidewall damage? Stranded is stranded. — D.P., Quincy, Massachusetts.

A: Then, I guess you are up Schmitt’s creek. If you regularly travel along some desolate roads, miles from nowhere may I suggest not only a full-size spare, but a jerry can of extra gas because your cell phone ain’t gonna work.

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. Send questions along with name and town to motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.