Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 with a CVT automatic transmission with about 77,000 miles. Right now I have the engine and transmission removed from car. I drained the CVT of 5 quarts, plus whatever comes out from the torque converter. Can I use non-factory transmission fluid, like Valvoline, or some other big company instead of Nissan's expensive fluid?
Dear Don: I would not recommend the use of a non-factory brand. The factory Nissan brand has specific additives that differ from other brands. Considering the complexity and problems of today's automatic transmissions I would not use anything but the factory Nissan transmission fluid. I also use factory brand when changing coolant in 90 percent of vehicles, especially imports.
Dear Doctor: My brand new 2015 Mazda has a banging noise in the trunk of my car like someone is banging to get out. I've brought it back to the dealer twice and both times they said they didn't hear anything. My son-in-law and grandson took it for a ride and they heard it. The banging starts when I go 60 mph or more. At 80 mph, it really gets loud. How do I find the source of the banging?
Dear Marie: I would first empty the trunk, fold the rear seat down (if applicable) and take a road test with your dealer sales representative to verify your complaint to the service department. The speed should not affect the suspension, so it might be an exhaust sound. It could be a plastic rear bumper flexing, or under car plastic cover moving and banging from wind turbulence at the high speed.
Dear Doctor: What is happening to the automotive clearcoat paints that fade or peel? Is this due to poor owner upkeep?
Dear Joseph: Automotive paint has undergone many changes over the years including, but not limited to going from petroleum-based paint to water-based and much more eco-friendly compositions. Most auto manufacturers have had problems over the years with paint issues from peeling clearcoat to primer paint that did not stick on the metal causing the paint to peel off. Most of the problems go back to the late 1970s to early 2000 model year. Over the last 5 years the paint and application have improved. Most manufacturers take each paint issue on a separate basis whether to make a warranty claim.
Dear Doctor: I'm looking for a nice "hot rod" muscle car. Can you offer any opinions from your recent test drives?
Dear Earl: Dodge is on top with a 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat. The suspension is smooth and quiet with an excellent subframe for body isolation. What is it like to drive a factory built hot rod that can burn up the 1/4 mile in under 11 seconds? It's unbelievable. It begins with a push of the start button as the engine comes to life, extremely smooth and very loud out the exhaust. I shift into second, third and forth gear, driving at modest speed (as one would), but what happens when the accelerator is depressed past 1/4 pedal -- well this is where the name "Hellcat" comes in. All hell breaks out when the accelerator is depressed past 1/4 pedal. The car is equipped with both traction and launch control to help prevent rear wheel tire spin from a stop.
Dear Doctor: I'm 55 years old and find that when driving my 2012 Toyota Camry and my 2006 Jeep Wrangler at night the headlights do not seem as bright as when the vehicles were new. (It could be my vision is not as good as in the past). A friend suggested that I install an HID headlight system. I spoke with the auto parts store counter person and he suggested to install big driving lights on the car. I need your help.
Dear Steve: My night vision, as well as many of my customers, have the same complaint. Professional vision care is important to health. I do not suggest to replace the headlights with troublesome and expensive HID conversions or add on additional driving lights. I have been using Sylvania light products for many years. For your Toyota, and other late model vehicles, Sylvania makes a line called Silver Star ZXE -- simple to install replacement bulbs for both high and low beam, as well as foglights, if equipped. For the Jeep with the large round headlight assembly, Sylvania makes a complete direct plug-in headlight (#35076), as well as LED bulb replacement for many applications. I even got a set of both high and low beams for my classic 1970 Chevelle. I can tell you that Sylvania lights will improve night driving with a clean white light.