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Student wants Nissan for winter driving

DEAR DOCTOR: My daughter is attending college in an area away from home where it gets more snow. She wants to take her 2012 Nissan Maxima, which is equipped with all-weather 245/40R19 low-profile tires. Here are options I’m considering: buy four rims and snow tires; have the existing rims fitted with snow tires; leave her car as-is and hope that she can drive it in the winter; give her my 2017 Honda CR-V with all-weather M+S tires. What would you do?

— Chris

DEAR CHRIS: First, there is no substitute for snow tires for winter driving conditions. Snow tires have a softer rubber compound for cold weather and also have a more aggressive tread pattern to grip in snow, slush, etc. If your daughter wants to keep the Maxima, then you can replace all four tires and wheels with snow tires. If your CR-V is AWD, you can give her that vehicle and enjoy the Maxima sedan.

DEAR DOCTOR: I have a well-maintained 1998 Chevy Malibu with 146,118 miles with an intermittent problem. When I take the car out after it sits all night in the garage, the battery light comes on very briefly and a three-ring warning bell chimes. Nothing feels wrong and I just keep driving. After checking everything else out, my repair shop thought it might be the alternator, but couldn’t come to a conclusion until I had a predictable problem. I don’t want to wait until I’m stranded someplace to get this fixed. What do you suggest?

— Susan

DEAR SUSAN: The illuminated battery light indicates an alternator charge fault. After the engine is started, the alternator may take a few minutes to warm up before it does begin to charge. It could even be a trouble fault code in the computer memory. The technician can perform a few simple tests to check the alternator. You can always leave the car overnight at the shop so the technician can check the alternator as soon as the engine is started cold.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions for publication to info@motor matters.biz