Economy: Consumer confidence driving auto industry

Brad Marcukaitis, right, a sales manager at Court Street Ford in Bourbonnais, and Brandon Scroggins, a salesman, check out a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid at the dealership Friday. The car came in Thursday as a trade and already had a buyer the day after.

Q: Wife had a 2010 Prius and we got stranded twice and needed a new starting battery. She now has a 2018 Kia Niro hybrid and I want to replace the starting battery but can’t get an answer from Kia customer service or several dealers as to if the Niro hybrid even has a starting battery. If it doesn’t have one, what starts the gas engine? — J.C., Key Largo, Fla.

A: All hybrid vehicles have a 12-volt battery. It not only starts the internal combustion engine, but it also powers the accessories. Staring in 2017, Kia installed a lithium-ion battery instead of a traditional lead-acid battery under the rear seat.

Q: Recently I had the oil changed in my 2017 Avalon. My receipt indicated five quarts of synthetic oil. The owner’s manual calls for six quarts. The dipstick showed full, but I added a half quart of oil just to be safe. Can you explain this? — D.M., Evanston, Ill.

A: Did they change the filter? The old filter could hold residual oil. Or, perhaps, they installed six quarts and only charged for five. Was it your birthday?

Q: I have a 2020 Mazda CX-9 with a G 2.5 Turbo engine. At 12,000 miles I experienced engine lurching when stopped. The dealer made the warranty repair, which included “Clean EGR and reprogram PCM” (quoting from my invoice here), and the car has run fine since. But upgrading to 93-octane gas was recommended, quite an unpleasant surprise, especially with the rising price of gas. I’m now paying $1 more a gallon for gas. — R.P., Clarendon Hills, Ill.

A: We checked the owner’s manual for your car, and it states the 87-octane gas is the juice to use. Don’t waste your money on high-priced gasoline that keeps getting priced higher. You got some bad intel from whoever suggested using premium gas.

Q: My son is frustrated by the problem he is having with his 2000 Honda CRV. It does not start and when we jump start it and take it to various mechanics, no one seems to be able to solve the problem. We have had the battery replaced and checked repeatedly, to no avail. The Honda dealer that we took the car to suggested that he dump this car and buy a replacement, after charging $82 for a so-called analysis. -- H.G., Northfield, Ill.

A: First, I suggest you take the car to one of the major parts stores where they will do a battery and charging system analysis for free. (Yeah, they hope you will need a battery, but won’t lie to you.) If everything checks out, have a pro mechanic look for weak connections, especially a weak ground connection from the battery. Also check for dirty battery terminal connections. Currently, car prices — especially used — are out of sight.

Q: I only use premium gas for my lawn tractor, leaf blower and two of our cars. I add Sta-Bil to my summer car and lawn tractor; the other gas equipment I run dry. I have used approximately one-half the bottle of Sta-Bil for winterization of 2020/21 and 2021/22. Will Sta-Bil degrade between now and the fall of 2022? — J.E., Chicago

A: It does not last forever. In fact, there is space on the back label for you to write in the date you opened the bottle. Gold Eagle (the maker of Sta-Bil) says on their website: “An opened, but tightly capped, bottle of Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer is effective for about two years.”

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