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Auto Doctor: Full synthetic oil is worth the extra cost

Fausto Dela Cruz changes the oil on a

Fausto Dela Cruz changes the oil on a car as a fan tries to keep him cool at an automotive shop. (July 22, 2011) Credit: AP

Dear Doctor: I own a 2010 Chevrolet Corvette that I put away for storage during the winter. Should I disconnect the battery or connect up battery charger? -- George

Dear George: I connect a battery maintainer on our cars that are not driven daily. The key is to not leave it connected 24/7. I recommend to plug in the maintainer every other weekend so that the battery does get some exercise. You should also change the oil and filter before storage and put air in the tires to the maximum inflation marked on the side wall. You should also place a soft piece of wood, Styrofoam or thick rug under each tire to help prevent flat spotting.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2005 Ford F-150 V-8 with 60,000 miles. My local shop said that he has replaced many sets of spark plugs -- and in some cases the spark plug breaks in the cylinder head. He went on to show me a special extractor for broken spark plugs. He said each broken spark plug can take an hour each to remove. The dealer also confirmed the spark plug removal process. How is this problem possible from a major automaker? -- Bert

Dear Bert: Hard carbon buildup on the spark plug and the 2-piece spark plug design cause this problem. Have your technician check both Identifix and Alldata for information and Technical Service Bulletins for the correct procedure for removing the spark plugs. The use of some gas additives will help soften the carbon and possibly eliminate the broken plug syndrome. In my opinion, Ford should take care of the extra cost of broken spark plug repair.

Dear Doctor: I own a couple of 2012 vehicles and would like to have a remote car starter installed on them for the upcoming cold season. Would this would void the vehicle's warranty, as well as cause premature engine wear? -- Andrew

Dear Andrew: I've been installing remote car starters since the early 1970s. Today, some car manufacturers have them as standard equipment. I'm all for a remote car starter for any vehicle with an automatic transmission only. Heated seat elements are also a great add-on. As for voiding the warranty check, I advise that you check with the local dealer. I have never run into a warranty issue with either a remote car starter or heated seat installation.

Dear Doctor: Is the price for full-synthetic oil worth the extra money? -- Ann

Dear Ann: It is my opinion that the use of full synthetic is worth the extra money. The other option is synthetic blend. Today's late model engines are high-tech with both hydraulic/electronic switching valves in the engine that rely on clean oil flow. The use of the wrong oil will damage the engine, causing catastrophic damage in some cases. Check your owner's manual for the correct oil and viscosity. If the vehicle requires full-synthetic oil, then you must use it. As for older engines that do not require full synthetic oil, I find that full synthetic oil lessens cold start-up drag and can increase gas mileage.

Dear Doctor: What can you tell me about the all-new 2014 Lexus IS sport sedan? -- Lewis

Dear Lewis: I drove the 2014 Lexus IS 250. Not only does this engine have more power at all engine speeds, but the six-speed automatic is silky smooth, too. Under the hood of this third-generation IS, we noted that the V-6 engine is mounted fore and aft, not sideways. This makes for a good size intrusion near the driver's right lower leg, which may bother some, but not this driver. The intrusion did bother my wife while she drove, adding that it would take some getting used to. Driving the IS for a week of both highway and around town I felt that every time I got out I was relaxed with no back pain. The IS sport sedan offered me a nice ride. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters

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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