Dear Doctor: My daughter filled her 2008 Mazda Tribute with diesel fuel. She took it to a shop where they drained the fuel tank and replaced the fuel filter. She then drove the SUV home in three hours with no problem. Do you think there will be any long-term damage to the engine? Steve
Dear Steve: This mistake of motorists filling tanks with the wrong fuel happens much too often. The good thing is she drove the car without a problem after corrections were made. Any contaminated damages would show up at the oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and catalytic converter. However, as long as the “check engine” light stays off and the engine runs as designed there is no need to worry.
Dear Doctor: I just bought a 2000 Chrysler 300M with the 3.5L V-6 engine with performance tires (Goodyear Eagles P225-55-95T). I don’t consider this V-6 a high-performance engine. I bought the car because I got a good deal on it. The cost to replace a bad tire was very high. Are these tires better than the old type tires or something that’s just cool now? Can I change to different wheels/tires? Richard
Dear Richard: I agree. You do not need a speed-rated performance tire for this car. You can change the tire size and aspect ratio to softer riding with a larger sidewall. All you need to do is keep the replacement outside tire diameter within 1/4 inch of the original. It’s very important that you replace all four tires at the same time.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Cadillac DeVille with 105,000 miles. I’ve had multiple alternator failures over the years. I have had the dealer and independent shops replace them, along with a couple of batteries. I only drive about 10,000 miles a year. What do you suggest? Alvin
Dear Alvin: When the alternator has failed the first step is to check the power and ground, as well as the connectors at the alternator before removal. If all are good then remove the alternator and send it to an electrical shop that can actually bench-test the alternator. The alternator-charging rate is controlled by the car’s computer. Connection and voltage issues can also cause a no-charge condition.
Dear Doctor: How long will the electric drive battery last in the Toyota Prius and what is the cost of replacement? Bill
Dear Bill: Battery life is expected to be 150,000 miles. I recommend you inquire at the Toyota dealership for replacement costs.