Q: I have a question about my 2019 Pilot Elite. I read in some Honda Pilot blogs about the long-term benefits of disabling your VCM (variable cylinder management system). We bought our Pilot new and always thoroughly maintain our vehicles at the Honda dealership and look to keep this Pilot for as long as we can. But I read that the VCM causes premature wear on some cylinders and other engine parts. Do you think it is advisable to disconnect the VCM? Does doing this void your warranty?
— J.G., Las Vegas
A: I would leave the variable cylinder management (VCM) system alone. Disabling some of the cylinders has been available for years on Chrysler and GM (and Honda) products with no pattern failures. In my opinion, there will be no unnecessary wear as lubrication continues normally. You get the benefit of saving some money at the pump. Honda introduced this system in 2005 and, if it didn’t work, do you think that the company would still use it? Technology has come a long way since Cadillac introduced the V-8-6-4 engine that hit the roads in 1981 in an attempt to save gas during the 1979 oil crisis. That flawed engine did not last long.
Q: Concerning LB’s ’02 Corolla and its evap emission issue, I had a similar problem with a Camry of the same year. Turned out there was corrosion on the gas filler pipe that kept the O-ring on the gas cap from sealing. A new gas cap would fix the problem temporarily while the rubber O-ring was still new, but eventually it wears out and the trouble recurs. The fix is a new pipe from the filler to the tank.
— J.D., Lake Forest, Illinois
A: Good point. I have also seen filler necks with nicks that cause the same problem. I polished them off with crocus cloth. It often worked and is cheaper than a new pipe. Just be sure to stick a rag in the neck so no junk falls into the tank.
Q: You have said to follow the guidelines in the vehicle’s owner’s manual regardless of dealer service recommendations. What if an independent service technician tells you he would not replace brake fluid on his car, that it’s just a dealer thing? My 2007 Honda Odyssey’s manual states to replace every three years, and I’m due now.
— C.K., Schaumburg, Ill.
A: I think you may have answered your own question. The dealer has an opinion (suggestion) and your mechanic has an opinion (suggestion). Follow the guidelines in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. After all, who knows better than the company that built the car?
Q: I wonder why plug-in electric cars don’t have a small charger built into the car so you do not have to depend on an external charger. We have a cabin in northern Minnesota where we would not want to install a separate charger but could easily plug the car into a regular outside outlet for days until we were ready to return home. If I knew how to ask the auto manufacturers this question, I would ask.
W.V., Richmond, Minn.
A: They have already beat you to it. Essentially every electric vehicle sold today includes a portable charger that you can plug into your standard 110-volt household outlet. But it takes about four to five hours of charging for each hour of driving. Leaving it plugged in overnight (eight hours) will get you about 35-40 miles. If you go to the Red Lake region, at roughly 200 miles, plan to spend a few extra days fishing.
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber’s work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send questions along with name and town to email@example.com.