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The Yankee Express

July 23-August 27, 2021

Jul 20, 2021 09:32AM ● By Chuck Tashjian
Q.

I have a 2009 Honda Fit, which I just changed the oil, yet the dash indicator still says my oil is now at 20%. How do I return it to 100% oil life since the oil and filter are new?

A.

Every car is a little different when it comes to resetting maintenance reminders. Some require a scan tool and others, like your Honda, are menu driven. Turn the ignition switch to the ON position. Press the select/reset knob repeatedly until the engine oil life is displayed. Press the select/reset knob for about ten seconds. The engine oil life and the maintenance item code(s) will blink. Press the select/reset knob for another five seconds. The maintenance item code(s) will disappear, and the engine oil life will reset to 100.

Q.

How many miles is it safe to switch to synthetic oil? I have 6000 miles on my 2019 car and want to switch to synthetic oil.

A.

There was a time where it was thought that a switch to synthetic oil early in the life of an engine would not allow the piston rings to seat properly. Today we see cars come from the factory with synthetic oil in the engine and the engines are fine. Call me a little old-fashioned I typically wait, depending on the car, until the second oil change before switching to full synthetic oil. Since your car is two years old you can switch to synthetic oil with no worries. 

Q.

I have a car that my brother gave me and wanted to know if it’s worth putting money into to fix it or just get another used car. The car I have is a 2007 Dodge Nitro SLT 6 cylinder with all-wheel-drive. The check engine and airbag lights are on, it failed emissions, brakes need to be done, it idles rough. The belts I see look like they need replacing. Plus, the two rear windows will not go up. 

A.
You easily listed what could amount to several thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Considering the car is 14 years old and was not the best vehicle built by Chrysler at the time, even as a free car, the repairs may not be a good investment. At this point the best money you can spend is to have a good repair shop give the car a thorough inspection to get a detailed repair estimate of the overall cost of the repairs. As a general rule if the cost of the repairs exceeds 50 percent of the value of the car, it is not a good investment.  

Q.
My daughter recently bought a 2006 Acura TL with 206,000 miles on it. I have two questions. The owner’s manual says to use premium fuel. If she does not, what are the consequences. With 206,000 miles, what oil should she use? The owner’s manual says 5w20 oil, but should she use conventional, synthetic blend or full synthetic? I had heard that using full synthetic in high mileage cars will cause oil to leak from seals. Is that true? 

A.

If the owner’s manual or on the fuel door states premium fuel required you need to use it or risk engine failure due to detonation (pinging). If the manual only recommends premium, use 87 octane fuel. The car’s computer system will adjust the engine systems to prevent any damage. AAA tests show that any loss in fuel economy is vastly offset by the reduced cost of regular fuel verses premium. Synthetic oil will not cause a leak, but it may find one and make it more noticeable. If this were my car and as much as I am a fan of synthetic oil I would use conventional oil and change it as recommended in the owner’s manual.  

Q.

I just read your column. I’m desperate and hoped for some clear thinking advise. My 1996 Dodge pickup truck is in great shape, looks impressive and starts every time.  It has been relegated to dump runs and trips to the beach with the dog. My dashboard, being a Dodge, disintegrated into chips and dust. I can’t seem to locate a replacement for a reasonable price. It ends up at about $1000 for a piece of plastic, not including the installation.  I don’t care what it “looks like” so I am willing to think way out of the box. My question: is there a way to find a dash that will basically fit? Ford, Toyota, Chevy or whatever. I’m one step away from using cardboard cutouts covered with resin and fiberglass.  Thanks for your time, I know this is a weird request.

A.

Not really a weird request. You have a couple of options that are relatively inexpensive. You could get a dash pad cover (looks like carpet) ($50 online) that covers most of the dash. The second option is a complete overlay of the dash, about $150 online. The overlay requires some prep and patience when installing but both could be workable solutions. If the dash is really deteriorated, yes you could make something up with fiberglass. Hotrod shops build custom dashboards all the time.