Q. I bought a 2009 Toyota Avalon and have driven it 4,200 miles. Its owner’s manual says to change the engine oil every 5,000 miles, although I’ve always changed oil in other cars every 3,000 miles, or every three months. My dealer says cars “are different now” and thus changing every 3,000 miles isn’t necessary. Your opinion? – E.V., Chicago

A. The dealer is correct--cars have changed, and you won’t do harm by following the manual’s advice. On the other hand, you certainly won’t hurt things by changing oil every 3,000 miles, especially if your Avalon is subjected to lots of stop-and-go driving, which automakers call “severe” driving.

Q. The new Chevrolet Camaro has definite styling features from the 1969 Chevy Camaro Z-28, which I hear had an amazing V-8. But I much prefer the Ferrari-like styling of the early 1970s Camaro. – M.K., West Chicago

A. I agree with you. The 1969 Chevy Z-28, though, has more muscular lines that probably appeal more to the generally blue-collar male crowd that likes Camaros. The first car I tested for a Chicago newspaper was a new 1969 Z-28. It had a 302-cubic-inch V-8 that essentially was a race engine for the Chevy Z-28 entry in the popular Trans Am race series, which called for production Z-28s to be sold to the general public. Chevy rated the Z-28 V-8 at 290 horsepower to keep insurance companies from charging stiff premiums to the car’s owner, but it actually had at least 350 horsepower. In pure racing form for the Roger Penske Trans Am Camaro team, it produced about 450 horsepower and beat its hated Ford Mustang Trans Am rival.The street version of the engine only came alive above 3,000 r.p.m., but it was a high-revving V-8 that made the car a thrill. Car and Driver magazine said a Z-28 hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds (fast by today’s standards) with a 4.10 axle ratio. The Z-28 model had stronger parts to cope with its power. The problem with owning one now is the engine had an 11.0:1 compression ratio and only ran right on 100-plus-octane leaded gasoline--no longer sold at service stations. The restyled early 1970s Z-28 had a conventional 350-cubic-inch V-8.

Q. What’s the best time to buy a new car? Best day of the year? – G.R., Berwyn

A. TrueCar, a new car pricing authority based in Santa Monica, Calif., says Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was the best day of the year to get a new car. But it’s not too late! A TrueCar report also found that six of the top ten days when consumers can take advantage of  discounts to save them the most money are in December, and that they are the 14th, 16th, 21st, 24th, 28th and 31st.

Q. I’m a Chicago area resident who hears that the 48th annual World of Wheels car show no longer will be held in McCormick Place! Is that correct? I’ve been attending the show for decades.– C.K., Chicago

A. That’s correct. The big show, which I first wrote about in the early 1970s, will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, not far from downtown Chicago. It’s called the “O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels” and has a new spring date: March 5-7. Show spokespersons say the event will be more accessible with the move and that the Rosemont venue provides additional space “that we are excited to utilize with new special exhibit features.”  The show is the oldest and largest auto enthusiast event in the Chicago area. Many custom motorcycles also will be featured, along with a big Corvette attraction, traditional rods and customs--and “modern European muscle and sport compacts,” besides live entertainment.

Q.  I know you’ve been asked this a million times, but what are key things I can do to prepare my car for winter? – E.H., Milwaukee

A. Check your anti-freeze. (The top cause of engine-related breakdowns is a cooling system failure.) Next, replace windshield wiper blades--and rear window blades if you’ve got them. Then check the battery and have the alternator tested at the same time. Make sure the lights, heater and defroster work properly and that rubber hoses and belts aren’t damaged. And have the brake system checked. Finally, keep tires properly inflated and the gas tank as full as possible.

Q.  What’s a good Christmas gift car book for my auto-loving husband? – C.B., Northbrook

A. I’d recommend “Ferdinand Porsche—Genesis of Genius.” It’s written by veteran auto authority and writer Karl Ludvigsen and is from Bentley Publishers. It can be bought via www.BentleyPublishers.com or Amazon.com and is available at  bookstores.  Porsche often was a staggering number of years ahead of his time. For instance, he developed the first advanced electric car, an all-wheel-drive auto and a gasoline/electric hybrid car around 1900. He also created the first Volkswagen Beetle in the 1930s. Of course, Porsche vehicles carry his name. 

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