Questions and answers from the “Car Doctor” – Saratogian

Q: I have read your comments about synthetic oil and how to use it in your cars. My question is which option is better for the environment?

A: Oil: synthetic or conventional when disposed properly can be reused or re-refined into usable oil. One gallon of waste oil can be processed into 2.5 liters of motor oil that meets or exceeds new oil standards. Some motorists who use conventional oil still stick to a 3-month, 3,000-mile oil change. Many people who use synthetic oils tend to follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations. Depending on the car, this can be once a year. Fewer oil changes mean less oil waste. So the bottom line is, it’s not the oil that’s kinder to the environment but how it’s used in the driver’s car.

Q: My wife and I loved the comfort and feel of the 2022 Volvo Momentum. I was surprised to find that as a base model, some safety features were not included, especially emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. Several publications have written that these security features are standard on all models. The dealer told me the reason was a lack of chips. So, my question is do you know if Volvo has any intention of modifying the missing features when parts become available?

A. If features are listed on the window sticker but these features are not operable due to lack of chips, my understanding is that once semiconductor chips are available, they will be installed and activated. Not all safety systems are standard on all models. According to Volvo’s website systems, such as the front parking sensors, the surround-view camera system and Volvo’s driver assistance system, they are optional safety features. This isn’t the only Volvo that has optional safety features. I evaluated the Mercedes-Benz GLE, which is a very nice car, but about half of the safety features were optional equipment.

Q: I need to buy new floor mats for my car. When I asked the merchant, they suggested I just go to the discount store. Where else can I buy car mats that won’t slip and look good?

c. This online parts retailer has a selection of mats available from winter mats to tailored mats. The first place I looked was and they had many styles and prices. Years before there were many online car retailers, I used GG Bailey for my own car ( which is a company that specializes in quality car mats.

Q: Has the oil been changed recently in my 2017 VW Jetta at a local shop. A few days later, I noticed the store had a 0W-20 mark on the windshield sticker to remind me when it was time for the next change. The owner’s manual indicates that a 5W-30 or 5W-40 should be used. Should the oil be replaced?

A: If the oil put is actually 0W-20 and not just some of the wrong box, the oil should be drained and replaced with a VW specification 5W-30 or 5W-40. Volkswagen is very specific about the use of Volkswagen 502.00 specification oil. Castrol and many other brands now have Volkswagen/Audi Euro-spec oil.

Q: I’ve received three answers from Dodge Service on how to tow my 2018 Durango Citadel with a ‘Trailer Tow & Skid Plate Group’ package, and a 3.6 V6 8-speed transmission. One said swipe is in eco mode, another said no swipe in eco mode and the third said swipe is in sport mode. The owner’s manual is ambiguous and indicates “tugging mode” What specification should I use when towing my 5,000 lb trailer?

A. Based on the owners manual, just drive and let the transmission decide. Sport mode gives you a little more feel of the steering and slightly higher RPM tipping points. ECO mode does the exact opposite and shifts faster (not ideal when towing a trailer). So just drive without selecting any other modes. I believe some models have a selectable tow/pull mode, but if your Durango isn’t, pick the drive and just drive. Just to add to the confusion, Dodge also states that you can select the gear position manually using the AutoStick gear selector. Look for a top speed that gives adequate acceleration while avoiding frequent downshifts.

s. My 2005 Nissan Frontier has 195.00 miles. A/C works on blower level 1 but with very little circulation. The air conditioner does not turn on when I go to level 2, 3 and 4. The heat works on all 4 levels but again, very little circulation in level 1. What could be wrong with the air conditioner?

There are four basic parts to this system, the switch, the blower fan resistor, the fan motor and relays, the valves and the wires. When the blower resistor fails, the fan will only run at high altitude. The fan itself was a problem on these trucks due to rusting of the water casing and engine connection. I would look at the fuse (there are three), the relay and the ground circuit.

Q: I have a 2013 Dodge Charger r/t and recently all the AWD, ABS and FCW lights came out. I changed the 4WD unit, but the lights are still on. I went to a local parts store and when they checked the car they told me there were no codes. any ideas?

A: Based on your description, I would say that one of the wheel sensors has failed. If the anti-lock brake system is not operating properly, the body control computer will shut down its associated systems. Reclassify the reason for the lack of codes, it might be the code scanner/reader the parts store was using. Not all code readers can read body controls.

If you receive a question about the car, email the car doctor for a personalized response. [email protected]

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