Question: I recently put new windshield wipers on my car, and they began to streak in the first rain. What is the problem?--L.M.
Answer: In order for windshield wipers to operate properly, the rubber blades must be fresh and pliable. Auto-parts stores and gas stations often store the replacement blades for too long or in conditions that cause the rubber to age and deteriorate.
You should replace windshield wiper blades annually, and try to buy the blades from a store that sells a lot of blades, so that the inventory turns over quickly.
Either purchase the replacement blades or the entire windshield arm. A good replacement arm will contain several "joints" that permit the arm to follow the curved contour of the windshield.
Q: I have a very unusual problem with my 1980 Mustang Ghia. If I am driving along and I put on my defroster, the car will not slow down after I take my foot off the accelerator. The minute I turn off the defroster, the accelerator pedal jumps back against my foot. What can be causing this behavior?--R.A.
A: The cause of your problem may be a special electrical switch that is supposed to increase your engine's speed when your air-conditioning compressor is turned on. The switch is called a throttle-kicker solenoid.
In some cases, when you turn on a defroster, the air-conditioning compressor turns on. An air conditioner acts like a dehumidifier helps clear a fogged windshield.
The throttle-kicker solenoid turns on along with the air-conditioning unit, and it is supposed to boost the engine speed to offset the additional load on the engine caused by the air-conditioning compressor.
This switch may be coming on when it is not supposed to or it may be out of adjustment, causing the engine speed to increase more than it should. The solenoid is adjustable and that may possibly be all it needs. Or the switch is defective. A competent Ford mechanic should be able to determine whether the switch is operational within specifications for your car.
Q: I bought a Toyota Van last year, and I have been very pleased with it, except for one big problem. At 7,500 miles, the front tires showed excessive tread wear on the inner surfaces. It was so bad, the dealer replaced the tires and aligned the front end. At 15,000, the same problem surfaced. This time he rotated the tires and aligned it again. Within less than 4,000 miles, the inner surfaces of the front tires are wearing out again. The dealer will not do any more than align it again. I am stuck with worn tires. Is this unique?--R.K.F.
A: I will take your word for it that the wear is on the inner and not the outer surfaces, because it is an unusual condition. This type of wear is caused typically by the toe adjustment being off of its required specification.
Toe adjustment refers to the orientation of the tires to the road. They must obviously point straight ahead when in motion. To have them straight when in motion, they must be slightly turned when at rest. That angle is called the toe.
The only logical explanation is that your dealer is improperly aligning the car, although that does seem unlikely three times in a row. One long shot is that you have seriously overloaded the car, causing the camber of the tire, which is the angle at which it meets the road, to be out of adjustment.