Q: I recently saw a product called Spare Tank, which is some sort of gasoline substitute you carry with you in case you run out of gas. It sounds like a good idea, but I was wondering if it is, in fact, safe to carry around in your car, and safe to use in your engine.
A: Yes, it is safe on both counts. Spare Tank is a special, nonflammable auto fuel that's safe to transport, won't damage anything in the fuel delivery system, and won't clog injectors. It also is suitable for use in cars built to run on premium fuel.
Q: I have a 1990 Ford Taurus with 110,000 miles on it. The car still runs good, but the driver's-seat upholstery and paint are getting pretty tired. Would you recommend investing in seat covers and fresh paint for a car this age and mileage?
A: If that Taurus has been reasonably cared for, I would think there is a fair amount of life left in it. One way to gauge that remaining service is to have your mechanic road-test the car and check the engine's cylinder compression and oil pressure. The extent to which those inexpensive compression and pressure readings deviate from factory specifications will tell your mechanic a lot about the engine's condition.
If the car passes the road and engine tests, I would treat it to a new set of seat covers and a $400 repaint.
Q: What is the Chevrolet Venture Warners Bros. Edition?
A: Essentially, it's a loaded Chevy minivan that lists for close to 30 grand. Beyond that, it's a brand partnership deal with Warner Bros. that includes free stuff such as videos you can play in the Venture's console-mounted VCR and watch on the flip-down, overhead monitor.
Q: I own a 1992 Toyota Camry with 89,000 miles on it. Recently, I noticed that the right front tire is wearing unevenly. There is a worn, crater-like section of tread about two inches long at the outside edge of the tire, and then a short section of unworn tread followed by another worn section, etc. The other tires are fine. What's wrong?
A: This condition is known as "scalloping," and it is usually caused by front-end misalignment. In other words, you probably hit a pothole or a curb and knocked that wheel out of alignment. It's less likely, but possible, that the problem resides with a bent rim or with worn or damaged suspension components.
Make sure the front suspension ailment causing it is solved before you buy a new tire. You'll quickly ruin the new one if you don't.
Send your questions to Al Haas, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101.