Dan Smith

Dear car story: When I was a young car owner (long ago) I was told that the worst wear and tear on an engine occurs when the engine is first started. So I'm wondering what your opinion is on the automatic "shut off" feature on many new cars. I know it saves fuel and reduces pollution, but does this reduce engine life? Roberto Dear Reader: No, it's not. What you said was true. When the engine is cold, i.e. when all the oil has run down to the bottom of the engine overnight, it takes seconds for that oil to be pumped into the cylinders, bearings and valve train. And during those few seconds those parts are moving but not fully lubricated. This can cause excessive wear and tear. So I warned them not to rev up the moment they started the engine, which was a bad practice that many people do. But if the engine has been running recently, i.e. in the last few hours, the oil is already well distributed and all the oil passages are filled. So while at a signal he stops for two minutes, these passages remain filled with oil. In addition, a sufficient amount of oil will coat all engine parts well to protect them during the next engine start. If I was stuck at a red light for hours, my answer might be different. We also encourage you to consider working from home options. However, a warm restart of the engine is fine. Another thing that has changed since you were younger is that engine oil has improved greatly. You may remember terms like 20W-50. This worked like a heavy 20 weight oil when cold and he like a 50 weight oil when hot. Currently the car he uses 0W-20 or 5W-20 weight synthetic oil. This synthetic oil spreads very quickly, even at low temperatures, and coats and protects engine parts better than ever before. So cross this off your list of things to worry about, Roberto. Maybe replace it with worrying about Netflix's just-announced monthly price hike.

■ ■ ■ Dear car story: I have only 85,000 miles on my 2004 Lexus LS430. Everything is great except the navigation screen. For some time now it has started to cycle on and off intermittently. Lexus said I needed a new screen, but at $6,000 it's out of the question. I've found a repair shop that seems to have fixed the problem, but still hasn't. I have a 1 year warranty on her and will be making a 3rd return next week. I'm out of ideas at all. Any suggestions? I enjoy your column. Thank you very much. — Jamal Dear Reader: Well, you already know what the expensive solution is, Jamaal: Have Lexus replace the head unit for 6 grand. My guess is that one or more of the small soldered circuits on the screen's circuit board is broken. Also, it may or may not work with contact depending on the position of the screen and the shaking and deflection of the car. Those who fixed it temporarily probably tried to re-solder it. Maybe they didn't do enough work, maybe they made a few mistakes, maybe the circuit is old and fragile at this point. Either way, the guys in that store have to run and hide in his one men's bathroom stall every time they see you drive in. When you stopped to use the bathroom, did you notice that there are four pairs of legs? Anyway, here are two cheap solutions. One is to go to a good car stereo store and buy an aftermarket head unit compatible with your phone. It essentially replaces the navigation screen with a new stereo and screen system. Both Pioneer and Alpine make excellent units that use both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One of those will likely be around $1,000. But it offers a completely modern head unit with Bluetooth compatibility and the ability to mirror your phone's navigation on a large, centrally positioned screen in the car. That's a pretty good solution. If you want navigation to work again for even less, you can get a cell phone vent mount, mount it as high in the field of view as possible, and literally follow the map guidance on the phone itself. It has a smaller screen and is not suitable for Lexus, but it is the cheapest option. (Except rolling the window and yelling directions.) Ray Magliozzi gives car advice on Car Talk every Saturday.visit and email him