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Daughter fills Tribute gas tank with diesel -- any damages?

By Junior Damato, November 7th, 2009

strong>Dear Doctor: My daughter filled her 2008 Mazda Tribute with diesel fuel. She took it to a shop where they drained the fuel tank and replaced the fuel filter. She then drove the SUV home in three hours with no problem. Do you think there will be any long-term damage to the engine? Steve

strong>Dear Steve: This mistake of motorists filling tanks with the wrong fuel happens much too often. The good thing is she drove the car without a problem after corrections were made. Any contaminated damages would show up at the oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and catalytic converter. However, as long as the "check engine" light stays off and the engine runs as designed there is no need to worry.

strong>Dear Doctor: I just bought a 2000 Chrysler 300M with the 3.5L V-6 engine with performance tires (Goodyear Eagles P225-55-95T). I don't consider this V-6 a high-performance engine. I bought the car because I got a good deal on it. The cost to replace a bad tire was very high. Are these tires better than the old type tires or something that's just cool now? Can I change to different wheels/tires? Richard

strong>Dear Richard: I agree. You do not need a speed-rated performance tire for this car. You can change the tire size and aspect ratio to softer riding with a larger sidewall. All you need to do is keep the replacement outside tire diameter within 1/4 inch of the original. It's very important that you replace all four tires at the same time.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Cadillac DeVille with 105,000 miles. I've had multiple alternator failures over the years. I have had the dealer and independent shops replace them, along with a couple of batteries. I only drive about 10,000 miles a year. What do you suggest? Alvin

strong>Dear Alvin: When the alternator has failed the first step is to check the power and ground, as well as the connectors at the alternator before removal. If all are good then remove the alternator and send it to an electrical shop that can actually bench-test the alternator. The alternator-charging rate is controlled by the car's computer. Connection and voltage issues can also cause a no-charge condition.

strong>Dear Doctor: How long will the electric drive battery last in the Toyota Prius and what is the cost of replacement? Bill

strong>Dear Bill: Battery life is expected to be 150,000 miles. I recommend you inquire at the Toyota dealership for replacement costs.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Chrysler Sebring convertible. My problem is the remote works for a day, and then stops. I follow the owner's manual to get it back working, but the problem keeps recurring. What do you think? John

strong>Dear John: Your Sebring has multiple computers and control modules. When you push the remote button, the signal goes to a control module then out to the switching device. The good thing is when there is a problem a fault code should be stored in the body module. You will have to bring the car to a shop or dealer that has access to a computer that can read the body control module. In some cases, the body control module may just need a programming update.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2003 Ford F-350 5.4-liter V-8 with 51,000 miles. Occasionally when driving the engine temperature gauge will spike to Hot within a quarter-mile of driving. When I shut the truck off and restart the engine the temperature returns to normal. The "check engine" light also comes on and I smell antifreeze. The engine coolant sometimes boils over, even with a new thermostat. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Gary

strong>Dear Gary: With the engine at operating temperature the first step is to check hydrocarbon levels in the cooling system. You did not mention the computer fault code that the service station cleared. If the cooling system hydrocarbon is negative then a continued checking of the coolant flow is needed.

strong>Dear Doctor: I purchased a 1985 Chrysler with only 50,000 miles. The car runs perfectly except for a rough idle. It's had a complete engine tune-up and still has a rough idle. Joe

strong>Dear Joe: Bring the car in to a shop that has the proper equipment to diagnose your 1985 vehicle. The rough idle can be caused by a number of things ringing from a vacuum leak to a leaking EGR valve. A few simple checks are all that's needed. The mechanic will stop one cylinder at a time to see if there is a particular cylinder not contributing to the engine running.

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