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Transmission Fluid: Change It, Don't Flush It

By Junior Damato, August 10th, 2019

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

Manufacturer photo: 2008 BMW 3 Series
Manufacturer photo: 2008 BMW 3 Series

strong>Dear James: To me, the old myth about changing transmission is just that: a myth. I do recommend changing the transmission fluid and filter, if possible. I do not recommend a full transmission fluid flush on vehicles with 100,000 miles or more. Make sure to always use the factory (or equivalent) fluid.

strong>Dear Doctor: My daughter is attending college in an area away from home where it gets more snow. She wants to take her 2012 Nissan Maxima, which is equipped with all-weather 245/40R19 low-profile tires. Here are options I'm considering: buy four rims and snow tires; have the existing rims fitted with snow tires; leave her car as-is and hope that she can drive it in the winter; give her my 2017 Honda CR-V with all-weather M+S tires. What would you do? Chris

strong>Dear Chris: First, there is no substitute for snow tires for winter driving conditions. Snow tires have a softer rubber compound for cold weather and also have a more aggressive tread pattern to grip in snow, slush, etc. If your daughter wants to keep the Maxima, then you can replace all four tires and wheels with snow tires. If your CR-V is AWD, you can give her that vehicle and enjoy the Maxima sedan.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a well-maintained 1998 Chevy Malibu with 146,118 miles with an intermittent problem. When I take the car out after it sits all night in the garage, the battery light comes on very briefly and a three-ring warning bell chimes. Nothing feels wrong and I just keep driving. After checking everything else out, my repair shop thought it might be the alternator, but couldn't come to a conclusion until I had a predictable problem. I don't want to wait until I'm stranded someplace to get this fixed. What do you suggest? Susan

strong>Dear Susan: The illuminated battery light indicates an alternator charge fault. After the engine is started, the alternator may take a few minutes to warm up before it does begin to charge. It could even be a trouble fault code in the computer memory. The technician can perform a few simple tests to check the alternator. You can always leave the car overnight at the shop so the technician can check the alternator as soon as the engine is started cold.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 210,000 miles. My issue is the factory-installed alarm. I'm not able to start it -- a few years ago I removed a second alarm system, which was installed by the dealer that was giving me the same issue (it makes no sense to have two alarm systems). So, now I'm trying to find a way to bypass the factory alarm system. Is there a specific wire in the driver side doorjamb that I can remove? I replaced the PCM, that didn't help me at all. The dash display also shows an icon with the line through the key when I turn the key to "on." I checked all the fuses and grounds, and they're all good. I did go to a Jeep dealer, and they want to replace the PCM. Could it be the alternator? Tony

strong>Dear Tony: There is no way to disconnect the factory alarm. The first step is a full body control module code check. If your key has gray plastic on the key end, the key and ignition cylinder module need to be set first. On this vehicle an integrated module under the hood has been a problem, and so have internal connection faults. I would suggest a trip to a local shop that uses both Alldata and Identifix. I ran into a Jeep no-start fault and it was the win module at the ignition cylinder on a later-model Jeep.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm looking to replace my 22-year-old Chevy Blazer with a newer vehicle -- probably a 2016 coming off lease. I'm thinking about the Nissan Maxima. Do you have any recommendations for a good-quality car? Mike

strong>Dear Mike: If you're looking for a good-quality car and not an SUV, then I personally like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord as a pre-owned vehicle. My only concern with the Nissan is the troublesome CVT transmissions in their vehicles.

Engine Ticking is Normal Sound


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

Sunshine Makes Console Flat Screen Hard to See


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

Why Did My 2018 New Car Battery Die?


Why Did My 2018 New Car Battery Die?

strong>Dear Doctor: When I parked my 2018 Honda Accord and returned to start it, everything was completely dead. The only thing that showed any life at all was the blinking push start/stop button, yet pressing the pushbutton failed to start the car. After the battery was boosted, the car immediately started and everything returned to normal. No warning symbols appeared on the dash, and the problem has not occurred again since then. I hesitate to bring it in to Honda since it seems to have been a singular event and the car has had no other problems. Do you have any ideas on what happened, why it happened, and what do you suggest I do now? Bruce

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