Motormouth: Cars left unused during quarantine
Q: I have two vehicles in Arizona that I had to leave there on March 18. I have not been able to get them due to the virus. When I am able to get them, what type of maintenance should I have done to them? They have been garaged with trickle chargers. Should I have the oil changed and all fluids? How about the tires? One is a 2014 Grand Cherokee and the other is a 2013 Escape. I have always maintained them in accordance with the manufacturer's suggestions.
— J.Z., Lincolnshire, Ill.
A: They have been sitting for about six months so there is little you need do, especially since you have maintained the batteries. I would suggest pouring a bottle of fuel conditioner in the gas tanks and then filling with fresh fuel. The tires will be fine; just check the inflation.
Q: I have a 2013 Chrysler T&C with a 3.6-liter flex fuel engine. In the manual for an oil change with filter, specifications are for six quarts of oil. I started to change my own oil and filter with the correct amount of oil, and when done, the oil level on the dip stick records about 3/8 inch, below the lower safe limit mark. I called Chrysler for advice and asked for technical service. I called the Chrysler dealer. They told me just to add oil until it is in the safe marks on the dip stick. What if it takes another gallon of oil to get in safe level?
— L.G, Schaumburg, Ill.
A: Your engine requires 6 quarts (5.7 liters). After your fill the oil, drive for a mile or two and recheck. The reading may be close to full. If the level is between the add and full marks, let it be. Add a quart, as needed, when the level drops. Overfilling may cause damage.
Q: Recently I went to a different garage to have the oil changed. The man servicing my 2009 Sienna LE put six and a half quarts in the van. Two other garages that I had used for years had been putting in five quarts of oil. After searching through old receipts, I did find one from a third garage that had added 6.4 quarts. The latest garage told me that was the amount the manual called for. How much oil should be put in my vehicle?
— M.R, Clarendon Hills, Ill.
A: At the risk of sounding like a broken record (whatever the heck that is), check your owner's manual. Your vehicle needs 6.4 quarts (6.1 liters) of motor oil. If you have been previously going to a quick oil change place, they may have filled the crankcase properly, but generated a basic receipt.
Q: I have a 2009 Lexus IS250 with a body in excellent condition and under 90,000 miles. I intend to keep it until the wheels fall off. Speaking of wheels, they are terribly corroded. My Lexus dealership offers a service of reconditioning wheels. My husband says that this would only be a temporary fix and the only way to get a satisfactory look would be to buy new ones. Thoughts?
— J.O., Elk Grove Village, Ill.
A: Your dealership will send your wheels to a reconditioning company. Turnaround is almost immediate. As your wheels go out, previously reconditioned wheels are shipped to the dealership. Buy them and save a few bucks. Reconditioned wheels are generally fine and are often used by body shops at the behest of the car owner's insurance company.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest.
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