Questions and Answers from the ‘Car Doctor’ – The Saratogian

Q. I’m sorry to hear that Toyota won’t make the Avalon after 2022. I have been a loyal Toyota driver since 1987 traveling with a Toyota Camry, then upgrading to an Avalon. I have tried others when shopping for new cars, but always go to Avalon and have never been disappointed. What would you recommend as a replacement?

A. Sorry to say but there isn’t much. The Avalon is the last to be considered a full-size car (although classified as a midsize). Without going into a European luxury car like Audi Mercedes or Volvo I don’t know what to recommend. You can check out the Kia Stinger (a great car with a firm ride), Genesis G70, Chrysler 300 (available with a V-8 engine and all-wheel-drive. Lexus ES 350 or Nissan Maxima). Because you are very familiar with Toyota. Products, I’ll take a look at the Lexus ES 350, it’s very nice inside, offers a smooth quiet ride and is priced like the Avalon. My other choice would be the Genesis which is a very nice car. Looking for another option. One of the last 2022 Avalons.

Q. I have a 2016 RAM 3500 diesel with two batteries. When I checked the batteries, one was 10.4 volts and the other was 11.3 volts. So, I bought and installed two new batteries, and the voltage was 12.6 volts. I drove for about an hour and then let the truck sit overnight and the next day the batteries were reading 12.3 volts. I was expecting to see 12.6 volts or higher, am I having a problem?

A. 12.6 volts is considered a 100 percent state of charge and 12.3 volts is considered a 60 percent state of charge. When it comes to modern car batteries the idea that any voltage above 12 volts is normal is no longer true. At this point I will slowly charge both batteries until the voltage is normal and then check for proper alternator output and any possible parasitic drain from some electrical stuff.

Q. I just bought a new 2021 Chevy Colorado. My question: Is there a way to permanently turn off the oil change service reminder. In my opinion the oil change reminder comes on too early and when it activates it replaces the information screen information including the speedometer. This happens 600 miles before the service is due and you can’t turn it off. I think I can remember to change it every 7500 miles. Some people tell me they are getting to 3000 miles which is too early for synthetic oils.

A. The oil life system calculates when to change the engine oil and filter not just by vehicle usage. For some owners, it may be once a year and for others it may be every 3000 miles at 10,000 miles. It really depends on how the vehicle is driven. Whenever the oil is changed, reset the system so it can calculate when the next oil change is due. To reset the oil life indicator, turn the ignition on/off with the engine off. Press the accelerator pedal slowly three times within five seconds. If the display shows 100 percent oil life, the system resets.

Q. I have been listening to your radio show online for the past few years. I listen to your podcasts, but love the caller questions. Did you retire from radio?

A. The last station I was at was sold out, but after a few weeks off I’m back at live and taking calls from 11am on Sundays. Call and say hello.

Q. I replaced the air suspension on my Mercury Grand Marquis with shocks and springs and now the car rides and handles better than it has in years. The only issue is that I keep getting this message that the air suspension is bad. Of course, it’s not there anymore. How can I get rid of this message?

A. I don’t believe you can do without some sort of defeat module bypass kit. Some companies that sell spring conversions sell the module with a conversion kit, but I’ve never seen it sold separately. A company called Arnott sells kits and maybe they will sell the necklace module separately

Q. I remember, in the old days turbo charged engines especially Subaru, once the engine was turned off, the fan would blow continuously to cool the engine after the ignition was turned off. I always thought that was a deal breaker as it would tax the battery. Will the newly charged engine still do this? I am particularly interested in the Kia Sorento four cylinder. I don’t want a car that keeps running even with the ignition off and only the engine fan. Your insight would be appreciated.

A. You might be surprised by how many electrical components in modern vehicles say “on” when the ignition is turned off. In some cases, it can take up to 30 minutes for the electrical system to go to “sleep”. Regarding the cooling fans, although some will continue to run (turbo-charged engine or not) most will shut off within a minute or two. The last turbo-charged Kia I drove, even when hot, turned off the cooling fan when the ignition was off.

Q. The other day I suddenly swerved and hit the curb with the right front wheel while turning a corner. After a while a noise came from the front of the car which was growing faster as I went. No dash lights came on, but I lost the air conditioning. I was scared and went straight home. Any ideas on what my damage could be – the problem and cost of fixing. Friends who know more about this than I have said it could be a wheel problem, like a ball joint.

A. The best thing to do at this point is to have it towed to a local repair shop to avoid further potential damage to the tires or other suspension components. It is interesting that the air conditioner left on which leads me to believe that you may have damaged the air conditioner condenser. All you can do at this point is wait until the repair shop inspects the vehicle. A wheel bearing is a possible problem, but it could also be that the brake backing plate was damaged (minor problem). Depending on the extent of the damage you may also want to file an insurance claim.

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