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Auto Doctor: Determining engine sizes on Ford F-150s, GMC Sierras

As long as its equipped with a V-8

As long as its equipped with a V-8 engine, the Ford F-150 offers sufficient power for those who plan to use it to plow their drive. Credit: Ford

Dear Doctor: My 2003 Ford Explorer V-8 with 94,000 miles has been shutting down while moving. This occurs when I'm off the gas and slowing for a light. I had the plugs changed and the intake and injector service at Ford to no avail. This has happened randomly for several months. What do you advise? -- John

Dear John: There are many conditions that can cause this problem. You need more information to properly diagnose the issue. A technician needs to hook up a fuel pressure tester and scan tool that can record the event. Next, the vehicle is driven and when the engine stalls the scan tool's button is pushed to record the event and the fuel pressure test will tell the technician the area of fault. Crankshaft position sensors are a common area of failure on various vehicles and can fail without setting any codes.

Dear Doctor: I'm looking to purchase a 2013 Ford F-150 or a GMC extended cab 4WD pickup. I plan to use it on occasion to plow my drive. I'm not going to use it to plow heavy-duty. What is the minimum engine size you recommend? -- Jim

Dear Jim: When looking at 1/2 ton trucks you need to ask the dealer if installing a plow will void the warranty. As for engine size any V-8 will do the job you need. In the past auto manufacturers would only install a plow on the 3/4 ton trucks (F-250 or 2500 Series). Since you're only using the truck for personal use there should not be a problem. You do need a 7-ft plow and I would suggest spending the extra money for the stainless steel. It is lighter and will not rust. I have always used the Fisher brand and never had any problems.

Dear Doctor: I've got a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that doesn't get driven very much. Lately we've gone out to find the battery dead. We've traced it to the interior lights turned on, even though no one has been in the vehicle and they were off earlier that night. Currently we just press the "dome over-ride" switch that cuts off the overhead lights, but that means no interior lights when we get in it at night. What could be causing this? -- Mike

Dear Mike: This issue will require testing with a scan tool. The good thing about late model vehicles is when there is an electrical problem, such as what you have, connecting a scan tool and checking the body control for fault codes can be easily done by a qualified technician. He will also need to determine which circuit is causing the lights to come on.

Dear Doctor: I'm not comfortable in bucket seats, as most automobiles have these days. Excluding pickup trucks, vans and SUVs, are there any new two- or four-door sedans that have bench seats? -- Bill

Dear Bill: Bucket seats are here to stay and I cannot think of any new cars that have bench seats. As for the seat not being comfortable that is an easy fix. Bring your car to an upholstery shop to have seat foam added where needed, as well as have a shop add spacers between the floor and seat frame as needed. We do this on a regular basis, especially raising the rear of the seat frame off the floor. This service needs to be done by someone other than the dealer because they will not alter the seating.

Dear Doctor: I'm 90 years old and my wife is 81 years. We are in good health. I'm leasing a 2011 Ford Fusion until January 2014. Do you think that at our ages we should consider buying this car for approximately $17,000 or lease a new car for another three years? The lease payments would be half of what we would pay to buy it and be spread over three years. -- Daniel

Dear Daniel: This is a great question. The dilemma is the residual price of the 2011 vs. the purchase or lease price of a 2013 or 2014 car. You need to check the actual pricing on a replacement against the 2011 Fusion. There are also vehicles that have factory incentives that lower the overall payments. -- Junior Damato

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to Mail questions to: Motor Matters, PO Box 3305, Wilmington, DE 19804

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