strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2011 Toyota RAV4 with the 3.5-liter engine and 4WD. At 25,000 miles I changed the transmission fluid, using Toyota fluid. At 50,000 miles I plan on changing the transmission filter. I used to change the filters on my old General Motors cars. I read "Ask the Auto Doctor" every week and have learned from you that newer transmissions are very different than the older ones. I need your advice on how to change the transmission filter on my RAV4. Joe
strong>Dear Joe: Some transmissions have drain plugs only, while others have a drain plug with a filter, which can be changed like the old days. If the filter is a metal mesh type, then it can be cleaned. Some transmission pan gaskets are made to be reused. You must always use the correct fluid and I recommend the use of factory fluid. Most Toyota vehicles do have a filter that is easy to access.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 1999 Dodge pickup truck with only 88,000 miles. It uses oil badly. It runs perfectly and does not smoke, but the only time I see smoke from the exhaust is after it sits and when I first start it. I see a small puff of white smoke. What do you think the problem is and what can be done to resolve it? John
strong>Dear John: Dodge did have some intake manifold gasket leaks prior to the year 2000. In some cases a leaking intake seal can suck oil into the intake runner and the oil will burn without seeing smoke out the tailpipe. Make sure the PCV valve is correct and there is vacuum getting to the valve. At only 88,000 miles there is the possibility that the piston rings can be gummed up. You can switch to high-mileage oil and see if that makes any difference. The use of any kind of engine flush cleaner could make things worse, so I do not recommend it.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 Honda Ridgeline with 87,000 miles that's having an air conditioning problem. The a/c blows outside temperature air when put at its lowest temperature when driving or at idle. At idle, the rpms drop and there's a clicking noise and the cold air starts to blow. When I start the truck it could blow outside temperature air or cold air. The a/c will run for a little while and then turn back to outside temperature. The heat works fine and the air flow is constant. My local service shop tried to charge the system but it wouldn't take a charge. The shop said we should start with evacuating and recharging the system. Is there a relay switch going bad on the compressor? Chuck
strong>Dear Chuck: There is an a/c relay in the fuse box that is a common failure on Honda, Toyota and GM vehicles. A failing relay will cause erratic compressor operation. As for the correct amount of refrigerant in the system, the system needs to be evacuated and charged with the correct amount. The electric cooling fan has to be working or the compressor will shut off because of too much pressure in the system.
strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Honda Accord with 124,000 miles. The check engine light came on, so I brought it to AutoZone for a free fault code check. It came up with the error code P2271, indicating "rear secondary HO2S bank 1 sensor 2 oxygen sensor, circuit signal stuck rich." I called Honda and was told the cost for replacing the defective part, including labor, etc. would be about $590. What should I do? Jesse
strong>Dear Jesse: Oxygen sensors age and wear out, slowing down response time. The biggest challenge is removing the 02 sensor from the exhaust pipe or manifold. Some are removed without a problem and others have to be heated up and then the pipe treads re-tapped. On some vehicles, such as Honda and Chrysler, the OEM factory sensor is your best option, even though the sensor is more money than the aftermarket brand.
strong>Dear Doctor: My 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue brakes freeze after driving only 3 miles. It started after I filled the gas tank from a different filling station, so I figured it was something in the fuel pump. The brakes freeze for a second or two with a slight hum, then the brakes release and respond to braking. The instrumentation dash reads "anti-lock track on, service soon." One mechanic changed my brake pads and oil for $242. Another said my anti-lock sensor is sensitive because one brake pad is lower. The problem is unsolved and the brakes still freeze with a hum after 3 miles of driving. Could bad cause this? I'm afraid to drive this car. Marilyn
strong>Dear Marilyn: No, gasoline will not affect the braking system. The anti-lock brake light on indicates there is a problem. The technician can read the ABS control module for fault codes. He can also disconnect the power to the ABS unit for testing purposes. The humming sound could be the ABS unit cycling. I recommend you go to a shop that employs ASE technicians. You can also check with AAA for a list of approved repair shops.
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