Was a sensor damaged when the tires were changed?

Q. I recently had four new tires installed on my 2007 Camry Hybrid and ten days later the check tire light came on. The company that installed the tires evaluated the problem and said a sensor in the driver’s front tire needs to be replaced at a cost of $190.00. They claim the battery in the sensors wear with time. I think it is more than a coincidence that the sensor went right after they changed the tires. Do you think they could have damaged the sensor during the install of the new tires? By the way the installer also put some scratches on my alloy wheels but they are too small to complain about but definitely didn't make me happy.  

A. The tire dealer is correct that the batteries in the tire pressure monitors do wear out with age. Although, most manufacturers claim a 10 year life with the valve stem style monitors. I tend to agree that it is certainly possible that the sensor was damaged when the tire was changed.

Q. My 2007 Buick "locks in park" when I park it on a slope. I have been to two garages that could not solve the problem, but said they think the problem may be "in the transmission."  What do you think and what do you recommend?

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A. The issue is internal to the transmission and could be costly to repair, but only if you choose to repair it. There is a part that locks the transmission in park called a parking pawl, which may be starting to have some issues. All General Motors has to say about the issue is “owners concerned about this condition should be advised to apply the parking brake prior to shifting into park”. This is the recommended procedure described in the cars owner’s manual. Applying the parking brake first will put the load of the vehicle on the rear brakes rather than on the parking pawl. This is certainly the most cost effective solution.

Q. I'm having an issue with my 2003 Honda Accord and excessive oil consumption (three to four quarts in 5000 miles). This is an issue in some of the 2003-2007 Honda Accords with the four cylinder engine. The problem was confirmed by the garage that service's my car. I was told the repair would cost $4000-$5000 and think Honda should pay for it since it is a known problem.

A. Considering the age of the car, I don’t see how Honda is obligated to perform any repair so far out of the warranty period. That said, considering the cost of the repairs and the amount of oil use, if it were my car I wouldn’t do anything. A car that uses a quart of oil in 1000 miles is, in my opinion, not that serious, and in fact is considered perfectly acceptable by some vehicle manufactures. Before I spent $4000 on a nine year old car, even a Honda, I would check the oil every 500 miles and “top-off” as required.

Q. We've had two separate incidents of squirrels eating the wires in our engine on our Toyota RAV4. What is your suggestion how to prevent this from happening again?                           

A. I have seen mice and rats eat wires but this is the first for squirrels. In my opinion, this has become more of an issue as vehicle manufacturers have switched from petroleum based products to soy based products. My first suggestion would be to remove any food-bird feeders or water that would attract squirrels. Readers have suggested dryer-sheets tied under the hood, oil of spearmint and mothballs as a method to get mice away, perhaps it will work for squirrels? I have also seen sprays to keep squirrels out of gardens at home centers that perhaps will work.

 Q. I purchased a 2011 IS250C Lexus Hard Top Convertible last June.  I have ordered a car cover through Lexus for my car.  The cover came, and the front started to lift off and blew off with just a little gust of wind. I called Lexus and they said this was unusual so they sent me another one to try.  The second one came and the same thing happened.  The elastic in the front does not seem tight enough to hold it down. Do you have any suggestions?

A. There are car covers made for indoor and outdoor use. Generally the covers designed for outdoor use have stronger elastics. I have had good luck with covers made by California Car Cover---www.calcarcover.com