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Auto Doctor: Car engines burn oil faster than ever

A car such as the 2011 Audi A4,

A car such as the 2011 Audi A4, pictured above, can be expected to burn through a quart of oil every 6,000 miles. In fact, even a quart for every 1,000-plus miles is considered within the normal range. Credit: Audi

Dear Doctor: I had the oil changed by the dealership on my 2011 Audi A4 at 22,000 miles. Then at 28,000 miles the oil was a quart low. Is this normal? I'm using synthetic oil and drive about 250 miles a week on highways. Also, when did we do away with dipsticks? -- Debra

Dear Debra: You are using a quart at about 6,000 miles. A quart of oil consumption at even 1,000 miles-plus is considered normal. The oil we use today is very thin. Today's engines run at hotter temperatures. This equals oil usage. On some vehicles the engine and transmission fluid dipsticks left us in the early 2000 model years, as did the conventional oil and filter change every 3,000 miles or 3 month intervals. Some vehicles have an annual oil change interval while some also hold 9-plus quarts of oil and most require full-synthetic oil.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2009 Chevrolet Traverse. About a year ago the taillight bulb (same bulb for brake and turn signal) started to fail. First, one bulb would fail and then about two weeks later the other would fail. This has happened about four times. My mechanic said there are no technical service bulletins on this issue. What do you think is the cause of this problem? -- Chuck

Dear Chuck: I see this problem often in many models. Poor quality lighting materials and fit are to blame, not only in GM vehicles, but also in many high line vehicles. If there is an LED bulb available, then spend the extra money. It will be the last bulb you buy.

Dear Doctor: I parked my 1994 Mitsubishi Gallant for the winter and now I have no headlights or dashboard lights. Everything else seems to be working -- blinkers, flashers, brake lights, interior lights. I even got my horn to work, which it didn't used to. I've checked the fuses under the dash and under the hood. I switched around relays. When I try to turn the lights on and off I can hear something clicking under the hood so I'm thinking it's not the switch. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. -- Pete

Dear Pete: The dash lights get power from the headlight switch. You need to start at the positive battery cable and check if there is a separate fuse at the terminal post. The next step is to check for power at the headlight switch. I have seen wires chewed by rodents over the winter when a vehicle sits. To get a full wiring diagram, go to and subscribe to the service. You will get all the information needed, including a wiring diagram.

Dear Doctor: I was talking to my coworker at lunch about a new sports coupe and he suggested I look at the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 V-6. I asked him if was joking and he said absolutely not. To my surprise I sat in the Genesis and could not believe it was a Hyundai. I plan on buying a coupe this spring. Do you have any advice on the Genesis? Marc

Dear Marc: I drove a rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Coupe V-6 mated to an 8-speed automatic. Start with the powerful 3.8-liter, 344-horsepower (regular unleaded) and 348-hp with premium gas. That's right, it has the horsepower of many V-8 engines from its V-6. I admit I had to open the hood and count the spark plugs and check the air filter. There is no question that Hyundai is a serious contender in the sports car market. From the Brembo brakes, 5-link rear suspension, limited-slip rear differential to the paddle buttons mounted on the steering wheel. Gas mileage is about 18 city 22 highway.

Dear Doctor: I know you test-drive new cars occasionally and I'd like your opinion on some of the more recent new models. What have you driven lately? -- Marvin

Dear Marvin: I drove the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO. The 4-cylinder gas engine with the help of the electric boost motor propels this Malibu like a performance V-6 car. Gas mileage ranged high 30s on the highway.

The Toyota Highlander has been around for many years and has had some issues. The new offering is unlike the Highlander of the past. The major improvements are gas mileage, power performance, creature comforts, ride and handling. A well-optioned Highlander 4WD will sticker around $36,000. Mileage 17 city 22 highway. It's not real big and handles more like a car than an SUV.

The Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design is an SUV on steroids with more power than you will ever need. The turbocharged 6-cylinder is rated at 325 horsepower. At any speed, in any gear, when you press on the accelerator you are gone. The SUV rides and drives more like a sports car. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347

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