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Mike Herzing answers questions about trailers, backup cameras, and cleaning your engine

Picture of Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Always check and re-check the hitch.

On his show “Let’s Talk Wheels,” Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there’s still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Dennis writes: I have a 2014 F150, and I accidentally spilled oil all over the engine when I was adding oil. It is a mess! I have always heard that you shouldn’t ever wash an engine because it will cause problems. Is that still true?

Mike Herzing: Like you, I have heard the same thing for years. But keeping your engine and engine compartment clean helps you locate oil leaks and other problems when they first occur.

I wash my engine and engine compartment at least once a year. One important thing is to do it when the engine is cold. I spray the area with a degreaser first, let it sit, and then wash it. You can use a pressure washer on a low setting, but you need to be very careful and not spray the alternator, belt idler bearings, or any electrical connections. To be honest with you, I think it’s probably best to just use a garden hose. Once you are finished, use an air nozzle to remove the water that’s sitting. Then start the engine and let it dry itself off. Do not close the hood. That causes a condensation problem. Good Luck!

Ronnie writes: I have never towed a trailer before and just bought a small camper. Any special rules or procedures I should develop that have worked for you?

MH: Over the past 50 years, I have towed everything from a motorcycle trailer to a 40-foot flatbed to a 35-foot travel trailer, and I always start out the same way. My “walk around rule” has saved me dozens of times. First, check that all the lights are working by having someone sit in the vehicle and cycle through everything. I always re-check the tire pressure on the tow vehicle and the trailer; this is a big deal, because trailer flats really stink!

Then after checking the hitch, I always re-check it again after driving a block. If you are OCD about this like I am, you will avoid a ton of heartache.

Dean writes: I have a 2013 GMC Yukon and the backup camera screen has become blurry.

How do I find out if this is a camera or screen problem? Also, c

ould an accident have caused this problem? I had a small fender bender a few months ago.

MH: I have heard from my GM tech friends that this does happen occasionally. First, use a clean microfiber cloth to make sure the camera lens is clean. Sometimes a sharp impact (like an accident) or slamming the tailgate hard can cause the camera lens to separate. The usual repair is a replacement camera. I’d check with the body shop that did your repairs and see if they think it could be related.

For more tips from Mike, visit Be sure to subscribe to the new “Let’s Talk Wheels” podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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