strong>Dear Doctor: When should the spare tire of a compact car be replaced? I have read that a spare tire's lifespan is 6 to 10 years. I have not read anything that specifies when to replace it other than when it "ages out" or when the tread is significantly worn. Should a compact spare tire be replaced after it is used once or twice, or is it safe to put back into the car if it looks good? Chris
strong>Dear Chris: I've seen compact spare tires that are 15 years old and still used. The compact spare tire never sees sunlight or harsh weather conditions. When the spare tire is used it's for a short time at speeds usually under 50 mph. As long as the spare tire has tread and there are no dry-rot cracks, the tire is serviceable. Air pressure is important. The spare tire pressure should be checked every six months.
strong>Dear Doctor: My 2001 Dodge Dakota with the 3.9-liter engine was running rough and misfiring, so I changed the distributor cap, rotor, wires, plugs and coil. The problem continued so I brought it to my mechanic who said the catalytic converter on the driver's side was clogged. He replaced both catalytic converters. About a month later it started misfiring again. Can you help? Andy
strong>Dear Andy: Before any parts are replaced a qualified ASE-certified technician needs to check all the basics. Catalytic converters will clog up from poor running engines. The engine problem can be due to many causes, including running lean, rich or too hot, as well as other internal issues. Repairs made on this issue with other Dodge owners range from leaking intake manifolds, bad engine valves and cracked cylinder heads.
strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 GMC Yukon with 86,000 miles. The truck runs well except the rear doors on both sides are extremely stiff to close. I've tried white lithium grease, WD-40, silicone, and penetrating oil, but nothing seems to loosen up the hinges to work freely. What should I be using? Tom
strong>Dear Tom: You have to use a spray product that will lubricate and get into the actual door rollers, such as PB Blaster. Spray grease and WD40 are not the products to use. There are many spray oils that will leave a slick oil film on the moving parts. Never spray any of these oils in the door key cylinder. Use only door lock lubricants. You can spray the door hinges on a regular basis.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Toyota Corolla with the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual shift. I have a heart pacer and a wire is working out of my heart. My cardiologist told me not to wear a seatbelt, but just part of the time, because it rubs on my pacer. I wonder if it would be possible to disconnect the bell so it wouldn't ring when the seat belt is not connected. Beth
strong>Dear Beth: Instead of disconnecting the seatbelt reminder bell go to an auto salvage yard and buy the seatbelt end that you can push into the seatbelt receptacle. This will shut the buzzer off and still allow other driver's of the car to have the added safety of the seatbelt chime.
strong>Dear Doctor: I am interested in purchasing a used 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4x4 with automatic transmission. I have never owned a Toyota, but I am familiar with their great reputation. Have you had many of these in your shop and what is your overall impression? I am deciding between this truck and a 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. David
strong>Dear David: Both vehicles are good. The 2012 Wrangler with the new V-6 engine is now very powerful and improved. The FJ Cruiser seems a bit bigger and not as nimble. You will be the one to make the decision after driving both. If you are interested in after market ad on parts and accessories, there are a lot of companies that make them for the Wrangler. We own a Wrangler with 114,000 trouble free miles that's used around town. The Unlimited has a longer wheelbase and more room than the standard Wrangler. Make sure you don't get an aggressive tire package on whatever you buy.
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