Question: Synthetic oil seems to be the best oil choice to use in a car today instead of conventional oil. Is synthetic oil ok to use in small engines like generators, snow blowers and other four stroke engines? What weight would be best?
A: Synthetic oil is highly refined oil that, in most cases, starts out as conventional oil.
As for using it in small engines, unless the owner’s manual recommends against it, I see no reason not to reap the benefits of synthetic oils.
Synthetic oil flows better in cold weather, allowing for easier starting and better starting lubrication. Personally, I use synthetic oil in my cars, lawn equipment and even a small boat engine.
As for viscosity, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The windshield wiper fluid will never pump in the Ford Fiesta
Question: My 2018 Ford Fiesta runs great except for this annoying problem for the past couple of years (I don’t drive it often): the windshield washer fluid won’t pump.
The first time I brought it to the Ford dealership to get it fixed, they told me it worked fine. Along the way, I tried it and it worked wonderfully. A mile down the road, it stopped working.
The second time there, again, they thought I was crazy. Now it doesn’t work at all. There is no pump noise when pressed to operate. I started going to another shop and asked them to replace the pump, which they did, but it still doesn’t work (shame on me for not complaining). Any ideas for the next time I bring it?
A: There was a time when systems like this were simple: a switch, a pump and a simple electrical circuit. In your car, when the wash switch is on, a signal is sent to the body control computer and then to the pump.
Ford chose to mount the washer pump behind the inner fender liner. I suspect – due to its location and intermittent operation – that there is a problem with the wiring leading to the pump.
Why is my Honda Civic melting when it’s 46 degrees?
Question: Our 2022 Honda Civic was parked in our driveway and started melting last week. It was 46 degrees and cold. It seems that many of the melting problems are in Japanese cars from Honda and Toyota. Do the Japanese use inferior plastics for mirror and bumper cases? I saw an article you did about this in 2018 regarding another Honda Civic with the same problem.
Do American cars use the same plastic or have the same solar convergence damage problems? Honda denied our claim to fix my daughter’s new 2022 Honda Civic and we are disappointed. Honda dealer said our windows melted our daughter’s car in our driveway. However, our house has a single window over the garage, and has a screen in front. any thoughts?
A: Honda issued a technical service bulletin – which I found on the NHTSA.gov website – describing the solar convergence issue. This is mainly focused solar energy that can be caused by light reflecting off the windows of the house.
Is the melting the result of this focused solar energy reflecting off the windows, or some kind of material that doesn’t withstand higher temperatures? I know readers have sent me photos of Hondas, Mazdas and Hyundais with similar problems. Whatever the case, the temperature must be pretty hot, as we saw temperatures over 115 degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas over the summer, not to mention the melted coating on the vehicles. At this point, all you can do is contact your insurance company.
The defroster light on the Caravan flashes before the heater controls operate. Why?
Question: The rear defroster light on the Dodge Caravan flashes for one minute before the heater controls operate. The battery was recently replaced. Will disconnecting the battery and keeping the cables together solve this problem?
A: The fuser light flashes as the system goes through its calibration cycle. Disconnecting the battery will reboot the system and is unlikely to fix the problem.
A technician with a scan tool can look for the HVAC fault and see what’s going on. The system is setting the mix door calibration. If one of the doors is stuck, or a motor is failing, this will cause ignition.
If you try resetting the computer, it doesn’t cost anything and can’t hurt, but I doubt it will help. If it was my car, I would try it.
John Paul is AAA’s Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Write John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email [email protected] and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.