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Ask the Auto Doctor: Owner's transmission needs factory overhaul

Dear Doctor: My daughter has a 2013 Ford Focus with 33,000 miles. She was driving in traffic when an indicator message said the transmission was overheating and to pull over immediately, so she did and had it towed to the dealership. They've had to change the transmission control module twice now. The first change resulted in a bad TCM. Later that week the car bucked and the transmission was "growling." The dealer changed the clutches. Then they took the transmission apart and found bad gears. Any ideas?

Dear Stu: In my opinion the manufacturer, Ford, needs to authorize a replacement transmission -- not a tear down and dealer rebuild. The defective transmission in your daughter's car needs a complete factory overhaul or complete factory replacement. This is the bottom line.


Dear Doctor: I own a 2003 Jeep Liberty with plastic wheel arches from the factory. During the winter, I turned into my driveway and slid into a frozen snow bank, crunching the wheel arches, which broke into four pieces. Do recommend a specific adhesive to reattach the pieces to one another and onto the Jeep? In the spring I would like to repair it properly, other than replacing the bumper cover.

Dear Al: There are many two-part plastic epoxy repair products that work. I would also check the aftermarket Jeep supply retailers, as well as the Jeep dealer. You can check with the local auto body shop and ask them about their aftermarket supply company for pricing. Also, check with the local auto salvage yard for their inventory and pricing.


Dear Doctor: I own a 2014 Jeep Compass. I immediately changed the oil with full-synthetic motor oil. At that time I had a real problem removing the oil filter. Six months later I did another oil change and had a problem removing the filter. The filters were put on hand tight. Also, a light film of oil was put on the gasket. Would using "never-seize" on the filter gasket help with this problem?

Dear Pete: Oil filters are often hard to remove, even when installed hand tight with a coating of oil on the rubber seal. In some cases we have had to cut some filters off. I cannot tell DIY owners to buy a professional oil filter removal tool for the brand of vehicle they own. There are many universal oil filter wrenches that don't work and may even crush or puncture filters during removal. There are no special tricks for this problem. You must use a quality filter. On vehicles that use a cartage oil filter the attaching cover plastic or metal seems to always get stuck. In some cases I have used a half-inch powered gun to break the seal bond, which capably breaks the stuck seal without damaging or breaking the housing.


Dear Doctor: I own a 2007 Honda Pilot with 50,000 miles. It is used mostly for short to medium trips and is not used to tow a trailer. My dealer says to change the timing belt. The manufacturer's manual says to replace it "according to the maintenance message shown on the information display" or at 60,000 miles if the car is regularly driven at very high (over 110F) or very low temperatures (below -20F) or used to frequently tow a trailer. What would you recommend?

Dear Lewis: A timing belt is clogged rubber belt. Like a rubber band, the timing belt wear is affected by time, temperature, along with stop-and-go driving. Since your car's timing belt is over seven years old I suggest you have it replaced.  Ask the technician to check the valve adjustment look into spark plug replacement as well. Exhaust valve seats seem to wear.


Dear Doctor: Do you ever drive Mitsubishi vehicles? I was wondering about the new Outlander.

Dear Stan: Mitsubishi has invested a lot of time to get it right with the all-new 2015 Outlander Sport. I drove the four-cylinder engine hooked to a Continuously Variable Transmission. While driving I used the paddle shifters to shift the CVT in all gears and there's a clear feeling that the driver is in control of the gear selection. This SUV has a smooth ride and handles well on back winding country roads, too.

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