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Motormouth: Should I take it to the dealership?

By Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Q: My spouse and I have Subarus and take our cars to the dealership for service. Every time I take my car in for an oil change, they seem to find something else wrong. This multi-point inspection labels all parts/systems as green, yellow or red and encourages you to fix or replace when in the yellow range. Once they marked my battery green and a month later when it wouldn't start they said the battery was severely corroded. Another time, I replaced one tire, and two weeks later they said all four tires were in the yellow range. I'm considering changing to an independent garage for oil changes and yearly state inspection. Is the dealership's multi-point inspection worth it?

L.T., Allentown, Pa.

A: Car dealers often create their own mileage/time service charts. Sometimes, they do not jibe with the service schedules in the owners' manuals. You are certainly within your rights to go to any shop you like for service. This even applies while your vehicle is under warranty. Having the work done will not invalidate the warranty. Just be sure to keep copies of your bills' itemized services.

Q: I bought a 2017 Ford Expedition and waited until the "Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor" told me I needed an oil change. I tow about once a year and drive mainly around town. My local dealer told me I should have it serviced every 5,000 miles/6 months. I told them the manual says to change it when the IOLM system tells you to, but not to exceed 10,000 miles/1 year. They still recommended 5K/6 months and showed me their "computer's recommendation." I emailed mother Ford asking for their recommendation to ensure long life and to maintain my warranty. The customer service rep told me they would defer to the dealership. Seems like the manufacturer should have a position (and it would match the manual). Can I trust the IOLM system?

T.D. Monument, Colo.

A: See the answer above. The manufacture does indeed have a position. It is clearly stated in the owner' manual. Car companies have little influence on their franchise dealers after the vehicles are sold.

Q: I took my 2005 Ford Ranger to a Ford dealer hoping to solve an issue with it dying out while driving. They determined it was the fuel pump. After waiting three weeks I canceled and went to another mechanic who said it's the inertia switch which solved the problem. How did the dealer get it wrong?

 

N.G., Schererville, Ind.

A: The inertia switch, sometimes called the fuel cutoff switch, was installed as a safety device to shut off the gas in the event of a collision. The switch is usually found near the rear or in the trunk area and can usually be reset. You would be surprised how often it is overlooked as a cause of no fuel delivery.

Q: What is your opinion of additives like Motorkote? I saw their video online that touts less friction and that it coats metals so that it reduces the cold engine damage.

S.D., Westmont, Ill.

A: I have not used aftermarket additives in my engines and they have gone hundreds of thousands of miles with regular oil changes. If the compounds in the stuff are so useful, I question why they are not already in motor oil. Of course, additives such as these (e.g. STP, Marvel Mystery Oil, etc.) do no harm to the engine and give you peace of mind. It is sort of like taking a vitamin pill.