Q: I have a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that was running well. About a month ago, I left it running and forgot about it. When I realized I left it running, I went to the car. It had stopped. There was little fuel in the vehicle at the time I left it running. Now, the battery does not charge. It appears the battery is dead, and fuel has run out. Should I put in a new battery and a few gallons of gas and expect it to run? Or should I take it to a mechanic to be fixed? Or must it go to the dealership?
A: A repair shop will do exactly what you were going to do to see if there are other problems. Replacing the battery and adding fuel should get the engine running.
If it seems fine – and due to the extended idling – an oil and filter change would be my next step and, hopefully, all is OK.
Q: I have a low-mileage 2006 Tundra 4×4 and hope to keep it for another decade, or more. To accomplish this, I am wondering if it is best to replace the automatic transmission fluid or just keep it rolling?
I’ve never experienced issues with the transmission. Some local shops say to change it every 60,000 miles, while others say to leave well enough alone. There is no dipstick to check color or smell, so do I trust the integrity of Toyota engineers or change the fluid?
A: Well, it certainly can’t hurt to change to fluid, but Toyota considers the transmission a lifetime fill. If you don’t abuse the truck (off road, trailer towing, plowing snow) and there are no leaks, you should be able to leave well enough alone.
Q: I have a 2012 Jaguar XJL. I had the dealership change the oil about 11 months ago, but I only used the car for about 3,500 miles during that time. Do I have to change the oil, or should I wait until the light comes on?
A: I think you can never go wrong with an annual oil change, even if the mileage is low (often recommended in the owner’s manual). The additional benefit is that a professional technician will also be looking for possible problems in the future that could go unnoticed and get more expensive to repair.
Q: I have a 2007 GMC Sierra Classic LT pickup truck with 191,000 miles on it. There is a bumping or knocking sound that can be felt through the steering system when driving on bumpy roads at low speeds. I have replaced the rack and pinion steering system several times due to leaks. The suspension has been checked, and there doesn’t seem to be any problems. Any ideas?
A: The most common issue is the intermediate steering shaft wears and rattles. It won’t produce any looseness or play, just noise. The other possibility is a bearing in the top of the steering column. Both of these issues are more of a nuisance than a safety issue.
Q: As a former Rhode Islander, I speak to my brother (who is still there) just about every week. He suggested you might be able to answer my question.
One of our conversations got around to my 2019 Jeep Cherokee. The nine-speed transmission will only shift into ninth speed by a manual intervention by me. Speeds at 65, 75 or 80 miles per hour seem fast enough to get into ninth, but nope. The only way is to move the shifter into manual mode and manually shift into ninth. I have asked at different dealerships, with some pretty strange answers. Any ideas as to why?
A: The ZF nine-speed transmission has four underdrive gears, fifth gear is a 1: 1 ratio, and then sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth gear are all overdrive gears. To me it seems as if the engine does not make enough torque to allow the ninth gear shift.
I have read reports of having to travel at 90 mph to see the transmission shift into ninth gear. I am not sure if it is a poor design and match to the engine, or if the marketing department wanted a nine speed to have one more gear than the competition. That’s probably as weird an answer as you got from Jeep.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to 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.
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