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Air Flow Comfort is Lacking in Owner's New Car

By Junior Damato, April 14th, 2018

strong>Dear Doctor: My 2017 Subaru Forester has a poor heater. I talked to the dealer and he told me to always keep the heat to the floor on recirculating. He also said they run cold and there's nothing much you can do. What do you think? Frankie

Manufacturer photo: 2017 Subaru Forester
Manufacturer photo: 2017 Subaru Forester

strong>Dear Frankie: The heated air coming out of the vents should be 135 degrees or higher on medium speed; on high speed, the temperature will be about 10 degrees less. A simple airflow test with a non-contact thermometer is needed. If the engine was not up to temperature, then the computer should turn on the "check engine" light. Both heater hoses should be hot going into and flowing out of the heater core. Is the water control valve fully open? You can always get a second opinion from an independent shop and check the heater output from another car on the dealer's lot.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm on my third hybrid vehicle. All of them have been Fords: Fusion, C-Max, and now a Lincoln MKZ. All of them have been great cars and they do exactly what they were designed to do. My concern is the manual says to change the oil every 10,000 miles. My understanding is that the hybrid's engine doesn't run as often as a conventional car, so the oil doesn't need to be changed as often. If the engine is always stopping and starting, wouldn't it make sense that from all those shut-offs, there would be more unburned fuel getting into the crankcase, which would mean that the oil should be changed more often than a conventional engine? I know I must be missing something in how the engine actually works, but I thought asking the question might clear it up. Sal

strong>Dear Sal: Most manufacturers have extended the oil change intervals; some even are as high as 20,000 miles. It's true the oil is much better; engines burn much cleaner in today's vehicles, as well. Very little unburned fuel leaks down into the engine when it is shut off, though I have seen many engines with more than 40,000 miles that do have sludge in them from dirty crankcases.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2017 Ram 1500 with the 5-inch touchscreen and want to install an aftermarket backup camera. Will the aftermarket camera plug to the back of the radio without any modifications? Angel

strong>Dear Angel: This is a question for your local stereo installer. Aftermarket cameras do not often connect to a factory radio. Special modules are required when adding anything electronic and it must be programmed with a factory scan tool. That touchscreen is a lot more than just a radio.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm in the market for a used four-year-old, off-lease European luxury sedan. Searching for a reputable extended warranty or service contract company has been confusing; there's no real way to determine how good a company ranks, only by what I read on the better business bureau website. How do I choose a reputable vehicle service contract, extended warranty company for a four-year-old, off-lease European luxury car? Max

strong>Dear Max: I'm all in for buying a pre-owned luxury vehicle with low miles and clean report. I have always purchased the factory extended warranty from the selling dealer. The warranty price is very negotiable and covers a lot more than most aftermarket warranties without any hassle.

strong>Dear Doctor: My daughter owns a 2013 Hyundai Elantra with around 55,000 miles. It has developed an intermittent problem of hesitating between 40 and 50 mph, with no "check engine" light displaying. On her way to get the car inspected, it started shaking and the "check engine" light came on. Her mechanic found no codes in the computer and the car passed inspection. What do you think the problem might be? Manny

strong>Dear Manny: With a "check engine" light on, the technician can go back into history to find the code that set the light, even though it does not show up on a simple generic scan test. The scan test must be vehicle specific.

strong>Dear Doctor: I need to replace spark plugs in a non-turbo 1998 Volvo S70. Plugs in it now are 360-degree electrode Volvo 206x9146775. These are expensive at $18 per plug. Are they worth it, or will a more conventional plug be just as good? John

strong>Dear John: There's a reason why Volvo and other manufacturers use a specific spark plug for their engines. Even some Honda and Toyota engine spark plugs cost $16 or more. I do not advise using any other spark plug that does not meet the same specs and the factory Volvo spark. I always use the factory parts. The same holds true when replacing the timing belt. Do yourself a favor, use the factory replacement part, and put a dab of di-electric grease on the coil boot before sliding it onto the spark plug.

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