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High oil consumption on new cars not unusual

Steven Wunderlich, President of S&D Auto Repair Inc

Steven Wunderlich, President of S&D Auto Repair Inc in Islip Terrace. Credit: NEWSDAY / PAUL J. BERESWILL

Dear Doctor: When I hit 30,000 miles on my 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix the oil light went on, so I pulled into a nearby Auto Zone and they told me I was 3 quarts down. I took it to the dealer the next day and they saw nothing wrong. It happened again at 33,000 miles and I called the dealer first. They said put oil in and come in. It took 2.5 quarts. Again, they saw no leaks and told me to come in after 1,500 miles after the oil change. Is it burning oil? There are no oil spots in my garage. Mic

Dear Mic: For some vehicles, oil consumption is not uncommon. A quart of usage at 1,000 miles is not unusual. Have the PCV system checked for proper ventilation. If it is working as designed, then change to high-mileage oil, even though you have low miles on the car. The oil is slipping by either the valve seals and/or oil piston rings. As long as you keep the oil level up, the engine will last like any other. The engine will tend to use more oil in the hot weather vs. colder temperatures. You should check the oil at 1,000-mile intervals. I do not recommend having the engine crankcase flushed or adding oil additives that claim to decrease oil usage.

Dear Doctor: My 2002 Mercury Sable has only 27,800 miles. On a few occasions when returning from a 15-mile trip, parking for 30 minutes and then restarting and traveling a few hundred feet, the engine would sputter and stall out. After cooling down for 15 minutes, the car would start up and begin to run normally. I was told it could be the fuel pump inside the gas tank and a replacement cost is $800! I really need your advice with wintertime approaching. Joe

Dear Joe: To properly find the problem your Mercury has to be in a no-start condition. The first thing to do now is have the shop hook up a fuel pressure tester and then the car needs to be driven. When the engine goes into a no-start you need see if there is fuel pressure. If there is no fuel pressure, then check for voltage and a ground completing the circuit. A scan tool and spark tester may be needed as well to find the problem.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2008 Mercury Sable with about 51,000 miles. For the past several months both my wife and I have experienced a strong clunking from the transmission when it shifts from first into second gear. This is a very hard shift and it feels like it could harm the transmission. The Ford dealer reprogrammed the P.C.M. with no improvement. Then they replaced two sensors -- turbine shaft speed and the output shaft speed. The car continues to clunk from first to second. The hard shifts are intermittent and you never know when it's going to happen. Can you help? Alan

Dear Alan: You are not alone in complaints with electronic shifting quality with electric-controlled transmissions. Reprogramming and relearns are common and they do make a difference. There are a few good transmission fluid additives that will help the harsh shifting. These additives alter the transmission fluid friction level. The additive actually makes the transmission fluid more slippery.

Dear Doctor: I recently purchased a 2000 Corvette and have a squeaking at the serpentine belt. When I purchased the car the Harmonic balancer had a wobble, so it was replaced. The belt was changed along with the repair. Approximately two days after the repair the chirping started again. I sprayed the belt with a little water at the balancer and the squeak will immediately go away until the water dries out. Is a Gator belt the way to go? Jeff

Dear Jeff: Never use any kind of spray belt dressing on belts. The spray will make the belts impossible to quiet down and you have to remove the belt, clean all the dressing off the pulleys, and replace belt. Chirping belts are not uncommon, especially on some late model Corvettes. I have seen many and we use the Gator back belts. Harmonic balance failure is common, as well as the automatic belt tensioner. There are many companies that sell aftermarket belt tensioners that offer more constant adjuster pressure on the belt.

Dear Doctor: I took my 1996 Honda Accord to the mechanic for the SRS airbag light staying on. He ran the scan tool and it showed the unit is bad and it would cost around $700 to replace. There are some companies that repair the units for about $50. Do you send these out for repair, and, if so, where do you send them? Jim
Dear Jim: I see a lot of faulty airbag modules that we often send out to have rebuilt. I use a company called BBA Remanufacturing in Taunton, Mass. Check for an extended warranty on some parts of the SRS system on Honda vehicles. You can also check local salvage companies for a used SRS module. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

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