Ask the Car Doc: Is it really my Mustang’s 35th anniversary?

Q. I have a 2002 Mustang GT and it has “35 Anniversary’’ etched on the dashboard under the glass between the odometer and the speedometer gauges. I have not seen it on any other 2002 Mustangs, and 1999 was the 35th anniversary Mustang. I have asked dealerships and emailed Ford but no one seems to know why this one has it. It was clearly done at the factory. What is this Mustang’s 35th anniversary designation of?

A. My only thought is that this car may be an anniversary of the 1967 Bullitt Mustang used in the movie “Bullitt.’’ Readers and Mustang enthusiasts, any ideas? Email me


Q. I am considering buying one of the redesigned Dodge Chargers and was wondering if there is a big difference between the rear-wheel-drive and the all-wheel-drive models. I live in the northeast and the winters can be bad here. The AWD costs more than the RWD, and I’ve read that both cars have stability/traction control, so I am not sure what to do. I had RWD cars many years ago, and they were very bad in the snow, so I am not sure what the new cars are like. I currently drive a 4WD Ford Escape, so I guess I am spoiled a bit. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A. The Dodge Charger is a great car and, with all-wheel-drive, only gets better. I have driven both the rear-wheel-drive Charger and the all-wheel-drive model. The rear-wheel-drive model with snow tires and traction control is not bad, but all-wheel-drive is just that much better. If I were using this as a year round car, I would pay the extra for all wheel drive—and I’m cheap! The Dodge Charger has also won the best all-weather-sedan category from the members of the New England Motor Press Association.

Q. I have a 2002 Camry XLE V6 with 90,000 miles on it. I have followed the service program and schedules faithfully and always fixed any identified problems. For the past six months, I have noticed a humming sound when I accelerate or step on the gas. The service people at Toyota keep telling me the hum is nothing to worry about. However, I do worry about it. What should I do?


A. The problem could be related to the exhaust system heat shields. As the car ages, it is not unusual to see these shields vibrate and resonate at certain engine speeds. The dealer is correct that is wouldn’t be a safety issue.

Q. I have a 2006 Honda CR-V and a 2008 Ford Escape. The CR-V travels 5,000-6,000 miles a year; the Ford Escape travels 7,000-8,000 miles a year. There is not much long distance driving on either vehicle. For the last three or four years, I have been using synthetic oil with 5,000 miles between changes. Is it OK to continue this trend of changing oil and filter every 5,000 miles, or should I go with the changes on a time-lapsed schedule instead?

A. Following the vehicles’ service recommendations, I would change the oil in the Ford every six months or at 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. With the Honda, you can change the oil once per year or every 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. With both cars it is important to check engine oil on a regular basis and add oil as necessary.

Q. I have driven my Honda Pilot to nearly 200,000 miles. I started shopping for a new Pilot and was shocked at the price. I have been looking online at the new Hyundai Sante Fe. Have you driven the six/seven passenger Sante-Fe and is it as good as the Honda Pilot?

A. You are correct; the Pilot is a great vehicle. In fact, one of my co-workers now has more than 300,000 miles on her Pilot. The Hyundai Sante Fe is a good handling, spacious, and comfortable vehicle with, depending on the options, all of the convenience and luxury items that any driver/passenger could want. However as Hyundai products improve they have also gone up in price. You really need to compare the two vehicles and see how each one would fit your budget. A quick check on pricing looks like you could save about $4,000 to $5,000 on a similarly equipped Hyundai over the Honda.

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