Dear Doctor: I own a 2004 Jeep Wrangler with only 88,000 miles with the straight inline 6-cylinder. I recently test drove a 2010 with a V-6 and was not impressed with the all-around power. Is the new V-6 in the 2012 Wrangler any better? -- Mark
Dear Mark: The new replacement 3.6-liter V-6 is light years ahead of its predecessor in every way. I spent a week in a four-door Sahara hardtop. The new 3.6L has a wide power band and the 5-speed automatic keeps the power flowing. The Wrangler was also quiet on the highway, even with the Dueler A/T radial tires. Gas mileage has also improved. The suspension takes out a lot of the rough ride. There is no question that the 2012 is in my opinion the best Wrangler since the body change in 2007.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1997 Cadillac DeVille and have to replace the heater blower motor. I looked at the motor under the hood and can not get the motor out. I removed all of the bolts and the motor is hitting the engine. Can you help? -- Mike
Dear Mike: There are a few ways to remove the blower motor on all the Northstar-equipped Cadillac vehicles. The first step is to make sure the key is off and to disconnect the battery. The blower motor has an electronic module connected to it, which is why you must disconnect the battery before removal and replacement. The second -- and often overlooked step -- is the engine has to be running, not just put the key to the "on" position for the blower motor to come on. You can remove the strut tower brace (if equipped), ignition coil, module and bracket, EVAP solenoid and bracket -- and on some vehicles the camshaft cover. Another method is to lower the engine cradle down far enough to get the blower motor out. Either way, this is not a major job. Note: You must install the insulation heat shield on the new motor and make sure that the spark plug wires are not touching the blower motor.
Dear Doctor: I am confused on buying All-Wheel-Drive, Front or Rear-Drive vehicle. The dealer says the AWD is added safety. I live in New York for eight months a year and the rest of the year in Florida. I would like your advice. -- James
Dear James: This is a great question for all readers. The advantages of all-wheel-drive are clear in snow and off-road mud conditions. On high-performance vehicles, AWD will get you from a stop to 60 mph quicker because the AWD system puts the power to all four wheels. As for stopping, there is no advantage to AWD. It will also cause faster tire wear, especially to the front tires because all tires are trying to go at the same speed. Gas mileage is slightly lower with AWD as the system also adds weight. My wife drives a rear-drive car and during the winter months I have a separate set of snow tires mounted on rims. She goes out in the worst weather conditions and has never had a problem with snow tires. I prefer FWD and RWD (use snow tires) over AWD for 90 percent of my customers.
Dear Doctor: I'm interested in the new 2013 Chevy Malibu and would like your thoughts on the four-cylinder engine. -- Dusty
Dear Dusty: The all-new 2013 Malibu includes the smooth 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine at 197 horsepower and the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder 259 horsepower. I spent a week in a Malibu LTZ with all the option stickered at $32,000. It's a lot of money to spend on a car, but this is a real quality car. The Malibu's of years past were small entry-level sedans. The 2013 Malibu is now a midsize quality sedan that can compete with any higher priced import. The suspension is redesigned and does a great job isolating the bumps in the road. The new four-cylinder engine is very smooth and much quieter than the outgoing 2.4-liter it replaces.
Dear Doctor: I recently got a discount oil change coupon from my local dealer and they also offered a no-charge inspection. The cost of the oil change was $19.95 and I thought that's a great deal. I did go for the oil change and the list of recommended services came to $1,000-plus dollars. I went back to my local repair shop with the recommended service list. They checked the car out and came back with only $300 worth of needed service. Why do the dealers try to sell unneeded services? -- Mary
Dear Mary: The key word is "up sell." Most coupon deals are lost leaders and meant to get you in the door get you away from your local shop that charges $29.95 for the oil change. There are a lot of up sell services that are not listed in the maintenance manual. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347