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Old Fluids Break Down, Need Changing

By Junior Damato, January 25th, 2014

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 Nissan Xterra AWD with only 31,000 miles. I'd like your opinion about replacing the front/rear differential and transfer case fluids. The owner's manual recommends replacing both at 30,000 miles under premium maintenance vs. inspecting the fluids under the one or two maintenance schedules. My mechanic recommends replacing both at a cost of $225. The vehicle is not used for towing or extensive off-road use. David

Manufacturer photo: Nissan Xterra
Manufacturer photo: Nissan Xterra

strong>Dear David: Your low-mileage Nissan is more than 5 years old, so yes, I am in favor of fluid changes. Fluid breaks down and water can collect in differentials. Transfer case fluid is under pressure from the gear contact, as well as heat. Other fluid changes to consider are the transmission, brake and power steering and coolant. Check for pricing from a couple of shops. If you want to change the brake and power steering fluid you can use a turkey baste to suck out the fluid. Note: Do not use the same baste for both fluids, as the system will become damaged.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2002 Ford Focus. I mistakenly added windshield washer fluid instead of antifreeze coolant. When I realized my mistake I quickly drained the contents but did not drain the radiator. Do you think it will do harm to my engine? Letty

strong>Dear Letty: You are not the first person to make this mistake. As long as you got the majority of the washer fluid out, then the engine should be fine.

strong>Dear Doctor: I just purchased a certified used 2012 Passat. When the key is inserted in the ignition switch, it moves to the ON position, but doesn't move to the next position to start the engine. And after a few tries of reinserting the key, it's able to move to the start position again. I have switched to using the alternate key fob and the problem has not occurred yet. Could this be a key fob or switch problem? Elaine

strong>Dear Elaine: Today's new vehicles have a lot of electronics, including electronic key fobs. Weak key fobs, weak key fob batteries, poor signal emitting key fobs are all items to consider for this no-start condition. I recommend you leave the car with the dealer, along with all key fobs. They will connect a scan tool and check for any body fault codes.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Lexus ES with chrome alloy wheels. The tires keep losing air. The rims corrode and the seal around the tire causes air to slowly leak out. The only solution other than getting air every week is to replace the rims. This sounds like a very expensive proposition, especially since I only have 64,300 miles on this car and it is mechanically and structurally sound. I was told I cannot buy used wheels from a junk yard -- they have to be new and the exact same year and model as the original car. Is there some less expensive alternative? Cecelia

strong>Dear Cecelia: I see this corrosion problem on alloy rims on all makes and models. We use a soft grinding pad on a electric handheld grinder and remove all the corrosion. We've not had an alloy rim that leaks again. Another option is to purchase a tube like the old days, which will save a lot of money. As for salvage yard rims, if they are in good condition, then you could buy them. There are also aftermarket alloy rims and reconditioned rims available from your local repair shop.

strong>Dear Doctor: Have you done any research on BMW's new 4 Series? Janice

strong>Dear Janice: For 2014, BMW offers us the all-new 4 Series Coupe and Convertible in RWD or AWD. It's equipped with an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual (RWD only). Our test car was the 428i xDrive coupe powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder twin turbo with 241 horsepower and direct fuel injection. BMW took a lot of time and thought to put this 4 Series together in place of the 3 Series coupe. The first thing I noticed is the now very comfortable front seating with multiple adjustments. Next is the user friendly iDrive controller. The 8 automatic has 2 Sport performance modes: Comfort and Snow. There is no turbo lag and the transmission gets and keeps the engine in its power range at any speed. Look for small engines with turbochargers mated to 8-speed-plus transmissions to be the future of powerplants.

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