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Sunshade keeps a car cooler, protects it from damage

Dear Car Fix: It's so hot outside. How dangerous is it for my kids to just hop in the car? I'm worried about it.

-- K.B., Williamsville

Dear K.B.: During the summer your car is an oven. On a 95-degree day, vehicle interiors can heat up to 181 degrees. Sunshades act as insulators, keeping vehicle interiors up to 49 degrees cooler and blocking 99 percent of UV rays.

The temperature inside the vehicle without a sunshade actually becomes hot enough to cook chicken.

To illustrate this point:

*Steering wheel can reach 159 degrees: temperature to cook medium rare beef.

*Dashboard can heat up to 181 degrees: temperature to cook poultry.

*Seats can reach 162 degrees: temperature to cook ground beef.

Sun or heat damage can destroy your vehicle's interior, too, causing fading or cracking to upholstery and cracks in the dashboard or steering wheel.

If you use a sunshade, it is easier to resell your vehicle. Why? The resale value can drop as much as $1,000 to $2,000 with interior sun and heat damage. Check out Edmunds.com to see how interior and exterior condition affects the value of your vehicle.

High temperatures can damage items left in your car such as lipstick, cassette tapes, videotapes, photo film and compact discs.

Sunshades help passengers avoid burning themselves on a vehicle's upholstery, steering wheel, seat, etc.

Sunshade prices range from $2.49 to $14.99 (you can buy these at any mass merchandiser or car parts store).

Other things you can do to protect your car:

*Steering wheel covers

*Window tint film

*Seat covers

*Keeping a good coat of wax on your paint

Remember, never to leave kids or the elderly in the car while you run an errand, even if the window is cracked open. Never leave pets in the car -- ever! Animals can get heat stroke easily.

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Dear Car Fix: Do you think the Audi S5 with the AWD option can be a year-round car in Buffalo?

-- F.S., Lewiston

Dear F.S.: When it comes to driving cars year-round in Buffalo, your best choice is all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles because you're getting traction to all four wheels. Front-wheel drive cars also are good choices when paired with snow tires, but snow tires are a great solution for any car that drives in Buffalo.

The 2011 Audi S5 is powered by a 4.2 liter V-8 engine; quattro all-wheel-drive system, 354 hp at 7,000 rpm; six-speed automatic transmission; it earns 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $54,850. Depending on the body style you choose, the S5 can come with either a six-cylinder or an eight-cylinder engine. Audi says the S5 Coupe runs to 60 mph in as little as 4.9 seconds. The S5 coupe and cabriolet have amazing road-holding and cornering ability in all weather conditions thanks to Audi's rear-based all-wheel-drive system.

Of course, the best deal is to never pay retail. Do your homework, negotiate prices and never be afraid to bid with other dealers across the country.

The Audi S5 is a fun car to drive with great performance and a beautiful design.

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Dear Car Fix: I have a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am and it constantly displays a check engine light. It is an emissions code, specifically P0440. No specific data was given with the error code. In an attempt to correct the problem, the following work was done to the car: new gas cap, new purge solenoid, new vent solenoid, and a new oxygen sensor. Additionally, the car was checked for any emissions leaks and none were found.

The only part on the car that is starting to go is the catalytic converter, though I am not sure if that is causing the check engine light to come on. What do you suggest in correcting this problem?

-- R.B., Buffalo

Dear RB: Your code, P0440, means Evaporative Emission Control System Malfunction. This means that a part of the EVAP control system is no longer functioning correctly. The system consists of many parts, including (but not limited to) the gas cap, fuel lines, carbon canister, purge valve and other hoses. The emission control system prevents the escape of fuel vapors from the fuel system. Fuel vapors are routed by hoses to a charcoal canister for storage. Later, when the engine is running, a purge control valve opens allowing an intake vacuum to siphon the fuel vapors into the engine.

The possible solutions require diagnosis with a professional machine to detect leaks.

e-mail: contact@laurenfix.com