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Hybrid Vehicles Do Run Well in Cold Winter Weather

By Junior Damato, January 6th, 2018

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm interested in buying a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as my next vehicle, particularly for its outstanding fuel economy. How does a hybrid vehicle maintain excellent gas mileage in winter season's cold temperatures? Doesn't the gas engine have to start first and run until it warms up -- negating the ability to run on electric and achieve high mileage statistics? Don

Manufacturer photo: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Manufacturer photo: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

strong>Dear Don: The Toyota Hybrid system does work well in cold weather; the gas engine does a great job of keeping the vehicle moving during the cold winter months, as well as keeping the battery charged up. The new batteries work a lot better than previous years. The gas engine initially starts first.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm the original owner of a 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe with the 350-cubic-inch-displacement, 5.7-liter gas engine and 291,000 miles. Other than leaking some oil, the truck runs great and is extremely reliable. Cosmetically, the SUV is in excellent condition and I don't need any of the myriad features and conveniences -- like rearview cameras or a dozen airbags -- that new models offer. At what point should I consider replacing it? Chris

strong>Dear Chris: As long as the vehicle is serviced on a regular basis, another 100,000 miles should not be a problem. If there are no rust problems, then you can always consider a new -- not rebuilt -- GM crate engine. A $3,500 engine replacement is far less expensive than a vehicle replacement. The worst part of these older General Motors vehicles is the rotted brake and fuel lines, fuel tank, and rusted-out rear parking brake backing plates. The 350 V-8 has a few small faults like the intake manifold gasket leakage, or exhaust-manifold-to-block-bolt failure.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm the original owner of a 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with 85,000 miles; its signal lights and emergency lights are not flashing on command. Sometimes they'll work and other times they don't. I've done some research and in order to replace the flasher the entire dashboard must be removed. Is there a way to get around removing the dashboard? That seems like it would create more problems for me. Tony

strong>Dear Tony: You're correct; the faulty four-way flasher in the center of the dash is the problem. Removing the plastic dash panel to access the flasher assembly is not a big project. You can watch the removal and replacement video on YouTube. This is a project that will take less than an hour with a few basic tools.

strong>Dear Doctor: What is the life expectancy of Tire Pressure Monitor Systems? I own a 2008 Ford Mustang that has a TPMS light constantly displayed. I was told the TPMS batteries are bad. The cost of the factory replacements is about $500, installed. A friend told me to buy new TPMS online at half the price of the dealership. What would you do? Peggy

strong>Dear Peggy: TPMS life expectancy is up to eight years, depending on the driving conditions and temperature. TPMS go to sleep when the car is parked and wake up when the car starts to move 20 to 30 mph and higher. The monitor sends a signal to the module in the car, which gives you the reading on the dash. The aftermarket monitors are less money but they sometimes need their own brand scan tool to program them to the vehicle. I have also found that some aftermarket TPMS have poor-quality batteries that fail after two years. The factory TPMS prices have been lowered over the last year due to competition from the aftermarket brands. I like using the factory TPMS units because they work well.

strong>Dear Doctor: What are your thoughts on the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler versus the 2017 model? I currently own a 2011 Jeep Wrangler and want to trade up. Mary

strong>Dear Mary: The revised 2018 Jeep Wrangler has many improvements over the predecessor, including the engine, transmission, and the audio system

Engine Ticking is Normal Sound

08/17

Engine Ticking is Normal Sound

strong>Dear Doctor: My wife has a 2017 Toyota Highlander that she loves, except for a loud ticking noise from the engine compartment when in gear. The car has 12,000 miles. The noise has been there since day one. On one visit to the dealer, two tech reps from Toyota listened and said "it is a characteristic of the model," but to us it sounds like a cement mixer. That's not normal! As a former service manager I can honestly say I have never heard a car that didn't have a serious engine problem make noise like this. Do you know anything about this? James

Transmission Fluid: Change It, Don't Flush It

08/10

Transmission Fluid: Change It, Don't Flush It

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 BMW 328i with 60,000 miles. I'm the original owner and have never had any transmission problems. Should I ever consider changing the transmission fluid? I plan to keep the car indefinitely. James

Sunshine Makes Console Flat Screen Hard to See

08/03

Sunshine Makes Console Flat Screen Hard to See

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2012 Camry. When the sun is bright, the radio/navigation screen is impossible to read until I get in shadier spot. It seems the flat screen should be indented into a cabinet or it should have protruding sides to help block light. What can I do? The auto body shop said they often see this problem but there's nothing they can recommend. I haven't seen my radio stations or navigation on a sunny day since I bought this car new. Can you help me? Jean

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