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Battery Maintainer: Don't Go Cheap

By Junior Damato, May 9th, 2015

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Turbo that I mostly use on weekends. I'm interested in using a battery maintainer to help extend the life of the battery. There are many types with a wide range of prices on the market. Is there anything you can advise that I should look for, such as features, benefits, etc.? Dennis

Manufacturer photo: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
Manufacturer photo: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

strong>Dear Dennis: I have used many battery maintainers over the last 20 years. I would not buy an inexpensive maintainer. I have purchased many Interstate batteries and the CTEK multi US 3300 maintainers. The standard Interstate cost around $45 and has one basic setting, while the CTEK is around $60 and has multiple settings for different batteries. Note: Directions say you can leave the maintainers connected 24/7, however, I would leave it on for only a day or two at a time. I plug mine in every Saturday morning and unplug them the next day, as long as the batteries are charged.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am retired and do not drive much, but I have four cars. What is your opinion of using the vehicle's oil light indicator as a basis for changing oil? I use synthetic oil and my indicator's would probably not light up for two years based on my driving. Paul

strong>Dear Paul: Any vehicle that is driven so lightly should have the oil and filter changed at around six months because of moisture buildup. Even with the low mileage, moisture will collect in crankcase so the oil needs changing in spring and fall. Today's engines are complex and have multiple electronic and hydraulic valves and solenoids that depend on clean oil for proper operation and longevity.

strong>Dear Doctor: In a recent column you told a reader that full synthetic oil was needed in a turbocharged engine to properly lubricate the turbo. I own a 2013 Ford F-150 with the twin turbo EcoBoost engine. I have my oil changes performed at my local dealer and they use a synthetic blend. I recently asked my service adviser about switching to full synthetic and I was told it was not necessary, that the synthetic blend is the factory recommended oil. I want to do what is right for my vehicle. Larry

strong>Dear Larry: Oil chemistry has changed over the last 10 years and even more in the last five years. There is no question that synthetic oil flows more freely and offers more protection than conventional and synthetic blend. Ask the person at the dealer what the actual ratio of the synthetic oil is mixed in per gallon. The answer will likely be, "I do not know." That's because there is no regulation or guideline for the ratio, nor will you see any ratio on a quart container. Feel free to use whatever oil you want to. I personally own have supercharged and twin turbocharged engines and all get full synthetic oil only.

strong>Dear Doctor: I recently purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible only to find out that this car has a plastic water pump impeller. Is this something I should be concerned with? How many miles can be driven before I encounter problems? Can this be replaced with a metal unit? George

strong>Dear George: I have seen the plastic water pump impeller last 100,000-plus miles. The use of plastic is not limited to your new car. In some cases plastic out lives metal water pump fins.

strong>Dear Doctor: I purchased a 2014 BMW 328 with 8,000 miles. It has four different drives, one of which is a gas-saving Eco mode. The engine shuts down when stopped and then restarts when the brake is released. Are there any reports indicating the starter will be adversely affected? Marshall

strong>Dear Marshall: Though the start/stop feature has been around for many years it is too soon to tell if there will be premature starter wear due to the frequent starting of the engine from a dead stop.

strong>Dear Doctor: I just purchased a brand new Honda Pilot Touring 4WD and traded in my 2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ. I've been a GM advocate for many many years, but I finally hit the wall. The final straw was when I received a recall on the exploding transmission. I could not get rid of this vehicle fast enough. I love the Pilot, but this 4WD doesn't have a "low" range, so is it safe to use on the beach? Scott

strong>Dear Scott: I'm sorry to hear all the problems with your Chevy Traverse. I service all makes and Honda Pilot owners seem to be very happy. As for no low range in the driveline, not to worry. Low range in a 4x4 vehicle would only be used in at crawl speed, pulling something very heavy. As far as driving on the beach, as long as the vehicle tires are not sinking into the sand there should be no problems. Good luck with your new utility vehicle.

Big Drop in Fuel Mileage: Get Engine Test

10/19

Big Drop in Fuel Mileage: Get Engine Test

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Ford F-150 with the EcoBoost engine. The dealership cannot tell me why my gas mileage is at 9 mpg. It was 24 mpg when I purchased it. Can you help me out? Gerald

Gas Mileage Misread: Fuel System Needs Attention

10/12

Gas Mileage Misread: Fuel System Needs Attention

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Ram 2500. The mileage calculator says I'm getting 30 miles per gallon in fuel economy, but I'm actually getting about 20 mpg. What should I do? Mark

Car Shakes at Idle: Check for Multiple Fault Codes

10/05

Car Shakes at Idle: Check for Multiple Fault Codes

strong>Dear Doctor: My 2009 Toyota Camry with 199,600 miles has a check engine light showing the codes P0101 and P0170. I have already replaced the MAF sensor, PCV valve, throttle body, the car's computer, O2 sensors, cam sensor, crank sensor, fuel pump, injectors, and fuel pressure regulator. I also checked for multiple vacuum or air leaks, and the cabin air filter, spark plugs, alternator, and battery have all been checked over the course of a year. Now the car has both codes showing consistently and it shakes at idle. What should we do? Cheyenne

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