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How to Improve Old School Gas Mileage

By Junior Damato, May 23rd, 2015

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Rumblebee Ram 1500 Hemi pickup truck. It's in beautiful condition with 60,000 miles, but only gets 10 miles per gallon -- on a good day. Anyway to improve that? Andy

Manufacturer photo: 2005 Dodge Ram 1500
Manufacturer photo: 2005 Dodge Ram 1500

strong>Dear Andy: Your Ram has old-school technology. The computer's capability, capacity speed, memory fuel injection system and transmission are not like the vehicles of today. However, there are a few things you can do to increase the performance and possible gas mileage. It will require a low-restriction exhaust system, cold-air intake, 160-degree thermostat, engine power programmer, full-synthetic engine oil and differential oil, along with the tire pressure set to 5 pounds above the manufacturer's recommendation.

strong>Dear Doctor: I took my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe to my mechanic because the airbag light came on. He said the system is operational, but he was unable to turn off the light. Is this true? Joe

strong>Dear Joe: If the airbag light is on, then there is a fault somewhere in the system. The technician will have to use a professional scan tool and scan the SRS system to located the fault code. I see a lot of vehicles with airbag faults on older vehicles. The majority are poor connections, broken wires, especially under the front seats and faulty crash sensors under the front bumper. In any vehicle when the airbag light is on the airbags will not deploy under any conditions.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2004 Volvo C70 with 109,000 miles. The car runs fine at first (probably 10-20 minutes), but then the transmission shifts hard from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd gears. It also has a hard downshift. My dealer says the car needs a new transmission ($5,500). Would a transmission flush be the way to proceed? Todd

strong>Dear Todd: There are many reasons for hard shifting transmissions. The first thing I check when talking to a client with a problem such as yours is to first look on my Identifix and Alldata web sites for any history of transmission issues. Yes, a transmission fluid change can often make a difference, as fresh transmission fluid has very different friction characteristics than older fluid, which have contaminants and fluid break down.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2007 Dodge Caliber with the brake light problems. When applying the brakes the taillights don't go on, however, the high-mounted brake light in the rear window does. Are they all fed together or is that light fed separately? Mike

strong>Dear Mike: The power is separate for the center-mounted brake light from the taillamps. In most vehicles, the brake light power flows from the brake pedal switch, up and through the directional switch to the actual brake light bulbs. In some cases in vehicles with an amber directional, the brake light current flows from the brake light switch directly to the light socket. Make sure the actual brake light bulbs are good before replacing them. You must also check all fuses and fuse boxes. Check the owner's manual for both fuses and locations.

strong>Dear Doctor: I understand you drove the new 2015 Lincoln Navigator with Ford's EcoBoost engine. What was your impression? John

strong>Dear John: The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 has more power than any previous Navigator has ever had with 380 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The new Navigator handles and rides more like the smaller Ford Explorer than the big 5,830-pound SUV it is. My grandson asked how the smaller six-cylinder (EcoBoost) powers this big SUV. I explained that Ford has taken turbocharging (Forced air induction) to the next level by putting twin turbochargers on this six-cylinder engine. The turbo power comes from the exhaust gases emitting from the engine, via spinning a small wheel with vanes to force air into the engine based on the accelerator angle. As for gas mileage, it's 15 mpg city 21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. Not bad for a big SUV that seats 8 people.

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