Dear Doctor: I will be coming into possession of a 2003 Ram 1500 SLT 4x4 pickup truck through the settlement of an estate. This truck was purchased new in 2003 and only has 576 miles on the odometer, as sadly, the owner died shortly after the purchase. The truck has been parked inside a garage ever since. What do I need to do to get it roadworthy?
Dear Donald: There are a few steps you must take before you put a new battery in the truck and turn the key. First, and very important, is to get the old gasoline out of the tank before you try to start the engine. The old gasoline will be thick and will clog the fuel injectors. The technician can either remove the gas tank or remove the truck bed to access the top of the fuel tank. Replace the oil and filter, and fill the oil filter before installing it. This is all you will need to do to start the engine. A close look at the tire condition before driving the truck is also important. These tires are over 10 years old and even though they may look like new they may have dry rot and internal cracking that may not be visible, so have a professional look at the tires. I personally would not trust these tires at highway speeds. A coolant change is also a good idea. These are some basic services that need to be addressed.
Dear Doctor: I am considering getting a used Toyota Prius. Since I consider the essential value of this car to be its rechargeable batteries, is there any way to monitor how much of the original storage capacity the batteries still have?
Dear Jonathan: Battery life varies on all batteries, including the hybrid's main drive battery. Most independent repair shops do not have the load testing equipment to test main storage battery of the Prius hybrid vehicle. This is something that the dealer can check for you. You should also get the replacement cost of a new battery, as well as the warranty. You also need to look at the cost price of the car and the type of driving you do to make sure you are buying the right car for you needed. Most of the four-cylinder vehicles today are pushing the mid 30s for mileage on the highway. Diesel-powered cars will be 42-plus mpg.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2013 Nissan Altima. The passenger airbag light remains on, even while my wife is seated in the passenger seat. what should I do to get this fixed? I took it to Nissan dealership twice and each time after that visit the light stayed on for 30 to 45 miles.
Dear Jim: A simple scan of the airbag system will identify the problem circuit. Once the circuit is identified the technician can perform the proper diagnostics on that circuit. The technician must be knowledgeable of the system and have access to a wire diagram.
Dear Doctor: I'm looking into buying a new Honda with the CVT transmission. What is your opinion of the continuously variable transmission?
Dear Bill: The CVT -- continually variable transmission -- is here to stay. All manufacturers have updated these transmissions in their models over the years. Many have of today's CVTs can now actually be shifted manually and can be held in a selected gears. You should not have any concerns about your purchase.
Dear Doctor: I'm wondering if you know when the 2016 Toyota Sienna and 2016 Honda Odyssey minivans will be in dealerships. Will you be reviewing either of these?
Dear Rick: The month of September should be close to arrival of the 2016 models. The Toyota Sienna under went an extensive upgrade for 2015, including a change of trim levels. In 2014, Honda's Odyssey received several powertrain, styling, interior and safety equipment upgrades. You will have to road test both 2016 models when available to see which minivan you want to buy.