Dear Doctor: I recently purchased a 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup truck with 34,500 miles and is still under Nissan’s new car warranty. For many years, I have made approximately 20 trips a year from my house in Oakdale, N.Y. to another home in Walton, N.Y. The trip has always measured between 191 and 192 miles; however, in my Frontier the trip measures 198 miles. Can odometers be calibrated and might this be covered under warranty? I’m concerned that when my Frontier reaches the 36,000-mile warranty limit the truck will have many fewer actual miles than the odometer shows. Bill
Dear Bill: Yes, the odometer can be recalibrated. It is done electronically by reprogramming. Tire size also plays a part in calibration and correct speed and odometer readings. You can have the dealer check the vehicle and it should be covered under the warranty.
Dear Doctor: My 1996 Lincoln has 94,000 miles on it, runs great and looks new. The front air shock boots have deteriorated and now leak. I’m advised the parts replacement shocks cost over $2,000. Can I replace these air shocks with conventional? If so, will there be any appreciable handling or steering difference? My Lincoln dealer will only replace with OEM. Werner
Dear Werner: I see many vehicles with air suspension failures and I always suggest the conversion over to conventional coil spring assemblies. The vehicle will ride and handle better than the old air suspension. On most vehicles a simple snip of a wire at the air suspension module will also shut off the air suspension light and the compressor will not run. Have your technician contact a conversion company. There are many out there. The conversion coil spring assembly will come complete and ready to bolt-in place.
Dear Doctor: I have a 2006 Volkswagen with 33,000 miles on it. I have had a problem with the driver’s side door.
When the weather is very cold, I am unable to unlock the driver’s side door with the remote. All the other doors open without a problem. I have to go into the car from the passenger side, start it up and get it warm, then the door will open from the inside of the car but not the outside. After the car has warmed up, it’s fine. We have used de-icier and the dealer even put a new lock on the door, all to no avail. Do you have any advice? Opal
Dear Opal: When it comes to frozen doors in cold weather, lubrication usually takes care of the problem — not replacing parts. When lubricating any moving door parts and/or linkage never use regular petroleum oil. You need to use a synthetic oil or graphite only. You also need to lubricate all the rubber seals, including the trunk seal. Have the technician remove the door panel and lubricate all the moving door linkage. As for lubricating the door key cylinder, use only graphite and do not over-lubricate.
Dear Doctor: I have a Flex Fuel 2003 Chevy Tahoe with 129,000 highway miles. Now that gas prices are going higher I would like to use the E85 fuel. Would there be any problem switching from 87 octane gasoline to the flex fuel? Will the fuel delivery system parts be harmed? Gus
Dear Gus: The use of E-85 will not cause any problems with the Chevy’s fuel-injection system and or engine valves. Your engine is designed to run on either fuel.
Dear Doctor: I’ve seen a lot of commercials on the new “built-in-America” 2011 BMW X3. Living in the Snow Belt, I have a great interest in a new sport utility vehicle. What are your thoughts on the BMW? Barry
Dear Barry: The new 2011 X3 is deserving of a good test-drive. The new X3 has an 8-speed automatic transmission. This puts the engine in its “power range” at any speed. The combined gas mileage on our X3 all-wheel-drive tester was in the 20s. The EPA ratings are 19 mpg city 25 mpg highway. The ease of entry was a big plus for my wife. On a cold New England morning, the engine warmed up fast, not to mention the premium comfort we experienced with heated front seats and the steering wheel. The much talked about iDrive is very user-friendly, unlike the earlier models. Base price was $36,700, and the as tested with options, including the extra large panoramic sunroof was $44,165. — Junior Damato, Motor Matters
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.
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