Cars

When will my EV’s recalled battery be replaced?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader whose Chevrolet Bolt is subject to a battery recall.

2022 Bolt electric vehicles outside a Chevrolet dealership in Englewood, Colo. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Q. Have you heard any word on when GM will start replacing recalled batteries in Chevrolet Bolts?  They announced the recall about 10 months ago.

A. I was on a call a few weeks ago and was told that GM has a fix for the battery issue and will update/replace batteries as they become available. Also back in December, there was a software update that was designed to minimize issues with the battery that could come from overcharging. For the latest information go to www.chevrolet.com/electric/bolt-recall

Q. I have recently retired and haven’t driven my 2014 Ford Flex as much as I used to. In fact, it only has 40,000 miles on it. Should I switch to synthetic oil on my next oil change? I plan on taking a road trip in the near future. I start it at least once a month, and every time I do it says it needs an oil change.

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A. More than likely your Ford Flex is using Motorcraft 5w-20 semi-synthetic oil. Switching to a fully synthetic oil will not present any issues and may add an additional layer of protection to the engine. Starting the engine once a month and letting it run is not a great idea. You and your car would be much better off with driving the car every two weeks for about 30 minutes. This will help keep the battery fully charged, remove any accumulated rust on the brakes, and “exercise” the moving parts of the vehicle. Before taking any extended road trips, have a trusted repair shop check out the car, looking for potential issues that could come up on an extended trip 

Q. I have a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek and asked my service person about changing the gear oil. The service person said there is no need because it’s a lifetime fluid. Is that true? 

A. The service person is correct. There are periodic checks to the fluid but no specific change interval. The only time that would vary is if the car routinely tows a trailer or is used as a delivery vehicle or an Uber/Lyft. 

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Q. Recently, while in Florida, I saw a car which, when the brakes were applied, the brake lights flashed three times then remained solid while the driver’s foot was on the brake. I thought this was a great way to catch the attention of drivers behind you. I was wondering if you knew which make of car has this feature and if the switch that provides this flashing light is available to be installed on a 2021 GMC Canyon.

A. The flashing brake light is a kit that can be ordered online, but technically it is illegal in the United States. The system is used in Europe and. from what I have read. was pilot tested in the U.S. on some Mercedes models. Currently the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards call for the brake lights to be steady burning when the brakes are applied. You may have seen this setup on a car registered in Florida since there is no annual vehicle inspection. 

Q. I have a 2017 Toyota Avalon with 8,500 miles. I have had three oil changes, the last in 2021 at 5,000 miles. The car is only used in town and is garaged. Do I need to change the oil, and if so, how often if I switch to synthetic oil? 

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A. Conventional or synthetic oil needs to be changed at least once per year. Short-distance driving can still contaminate engine oil, and changing it yearly and checking the vital fluid once per year is money well spent. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]. Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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