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The Yankee Express

Coolant, transmission fluid change schedules

John Paul

Q. This is not really a car question but would like your thoughts. I noticed many new cars on the road have LED lights. Some of the more expensive SUV’s have small lights. Another nickel and dime project moving away from big red stop lights. My question is why manufacturers do not make amber turn signal lights standard equipment on all vehicles. Years ago, we had it, but we moved away from this. Safety-wise, it is much easier to see and certainly brighter than red turning lights. What is your opinion on this issue?

A. Rear lighting and all-automotive lighting need to pass DOT rules (usually Society of Automotive Engineer’s suggestions) The smaller LED lights are quicker responding and I am guessing based on rule making meet the rules for brightness. Amber to me makes sense because of the sharper contrast between the red brake and running lights. Realistically the LEDs can probably be adapted to turn amber or red depending on what turns them on. It is interesting that the same car in Europe will have amber turn signals and red brake lights, but yet here that car may have just a red lens, perhaps cost saving or aesthetics?

Q. When should I change the coolant and transmission fluid on my 2016 Mazda 6? I tried getting info from my manual and found it difficult to understand and the dealer just told me it should be done. I just want to see it in writing before I spend the money. 

A. According to the database I use, which gets its information from the vehicle manufacturer, the coolant should be changed at 120,000 miles. The transmission fluid is considered a “lifetime fill.” Now this can change if there are leaks, or heavy-duty use, such as towing a trailer or using your car as an Uber or Lyft vehicle. For average drivers, the Mazda is a low maintenance vehicle, and the levels should be checked periodically there is not much to worry about.

Q. I have been reading your column for quite some time, and I enjoy it. I am curious however, that you consistently prefer the RAV4 or Rogue over the Forester, yet Consumer Reports has voted it the best small SUV for the last ten years. I bought a used 2020 and am very happy with it, other than at highway speeds, it is noisy inside.  Could you give me some insight as to your preferences?

A. I prefer the Toyota RAV4 for reliability, comfort, and the availability of hybrid option. The Nissan Rogue is a vehicle that I have never been a big fan of, although for 2023 Nissan seems to have gotten many things right. Previous models had transmission issues as well as some premature rusting. Lately Subaru vehicles have been quite good I can easily recommend the Forester due to its active safety equipment, superior performance in the snow and overall engine reliability. Previous Subaru models from 2010 to 2014 or so had engine problems, 2015 to 2018 or so had some electrical issues (dead batteries after only a day or two of sitting, early models would rust out. Today Subaru and especially the Forester are nicely appointed vehicles, solid engines, and good on-road performance. Would I buy a Subaru-yes.

Q. I was listening to your radio program, and you mentioned that the Kia EV you were driving did not come with a charging cable, why? And what did you do? 

A. Apparently Kia wants journalists to experience public charging and rather than Level I charging at home. Public Level II charging is pretty good, and Level II is still the best option for home charging but still only adds about 20-30 or so miles of range in an hour. Using an Electrify America’s 350KW charging station I was able to charge the battery from 10 percent up to 92 percent in 20 minutes at a cost of less than $10. Since then, I now have a Juice Booster-2 This is a complete kit that plugs into everything from a 15-amp 120-volt outlet to a 240-volt outlet. I have been using a NEMA 5-20 adapter, which plugs into a 20 amp 120-volt outlet. From my limited testing the Juice Booster 2 does an excellent job on overnight charging with both a fully battery electric vehicle and plug in hybrid. 

Q. I have 2020 Toyota Camry hybrid (now with 53,000 miles) which I purchased as a certified preowned car. This may be the best car I have owned with one exception, the front brakes squeak. I returned to the dealer, and they checked everything and said the brakes looked fine. Any ideas how to get rid of the noise? 

A. Toyota did come out with a fix, although a bit pricey. The fix requires replacement of the calipers with an updated design, new caliper mounting hardware and updated pad and shim kit. If you can live with the noise, perhaps wait until the brakes need replacement. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.