Q. I recently purchased a 2011 Ford Fusion and received a remote starter for Christmas. I asked the Ford dealer about installing it and they told me that I needed to have a ford system installed or I would void the warranty. Is this true?
A. I spoke with Dave McCreary at AutoToys in Randolph MA, and he said it is non-sense. In fact, he installs remote starting systems for car dealers on a regular basis. As stated under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Improvement act, a vehicle manufacturer may not make it warranty conditional on the use of any brand of security system unless that manufacturer provides it at no-charge.
Q. I have two questions regarding motor oil. First, what is the difference between "regular" motor oil and "synthetic" motor oil? And my second question is regarding a new synthetic motor oil made by Green Earth Technology called G-Oil. Green Earth Tech claim their oil is an environmentally safe option that is grown and made right here in the USA. What do you think?
A. The differences are significant; in fact even oil manufacturers canít seem to totally agree on what exactly defines synthetic oil. The simplest explanation that seems to apply is synthetic oil has molecules that are much more uniform compared to conventional oil. This uniformity of molecules adds to the oilís ability to flow and provides superior lubrication over conventional oil. I have never used the G-Oil, but according to their website, this oil is made from animal and plant fats. This formulation allows the oil to be classified as bio-degradable. Tests that I have seen show it to be at least as good as some of the name brand synthetic oils.
Q.The service engine soon light came on in my 2000 Cadillac Eldorado. The computer shows the code PO 742 identifying a problem with the torque converter for the transmission. A local shop put a new torque converter in and the light stayed off for only two days. The shop tried to fix it with no luck and then sent it to a transmission shop. Now the transmission shop says they need to take the transmission apart to see where the problem is. The car drives perfect and the transmission shop is telling me it could cost up to $2,700 to get it fixed. What should I do?
A. The code indicates a problem with high line pressure that could be causing the torque convertor failure. This could be caused by several issues, including sticking solenoids in the transmission, as well as debris from worn bearings inside the transmission.
Q. My son has a 2003 Toyota Matrix with all-wheel-drive and high mileage that needs better tires to get through the winter. He has been told he has to replace all four tires at the same time because of the all-wheel-drive feature. It seems to me that 2 new tires on the front would solve his problem. Does he have to replace all four tires at the same time?
A. Since your Matrix is primarily front wheel drive, you could just replace the two front tires. In general, it is always a good idea to replace all four tires at the same time on an all-wheel-drive vehicle. There are a few vehicle manufacturers that strongly recommend replacing four tires at one time to minimize potential damage to the transmission all-wheel-drive unit. In addition, four matching tires will provide a smoother, quieter ride and balanced braking.
Q. I own a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour with 37, 000 miles on it. Last year I was rear-ended to the tune of $2000 in damages, and a month ago I hit a deer, sustaining $10,000 worth of damage. I just got the car back and it looks brand new. I am, however, wondering if I should trade it in or keep it.
A. Currently used cars are enjoying premium prices due to tight inventories. But your Crosstour is a unique vehicle that may not appeal to every buyer. In addition, the mileage is a bit high for such a new car, which will certainly impact your trade in price. If you are happy with the car and the quality of the repair, I would be tempted to keep the car and enjoy it.
Q. I have a 2004 Chrysler Town and Country Touring Edition with AWD. We have had the airbag sensor light come on periodically. After about 12 months, it is on again. This is the fourth time. Each time the dealer has replaced the "clock-spring.Ē With the exception of one time when the car was under warranty, we have paid for this repair. Is it normal for this part to wear out so quickly? Is it a defect in design? Is there anything else to check or do?
A. This is a common failure, although four replacements in eight years is certainly abnormal. Earlier models had a recall to replace the clock-spring, and in some cases offered customers a lifetime warranty. At this point, I would call Chrysler customer assistance to get their input on this problem. The phone number is 1-800-853-1403.
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About Boston Overdrive
|Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
|Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
|John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
|Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
|Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
|George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee