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Good Car Care Advice from Tom T - #2

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Tom Torbjornsen, host of "America's Car Show" radio program answers questions from his listeners. (Listen to Tom's radio shows every Saturday and Sunday right here on The Auto Channel)

Dear Tom, I own a 2005 GMC Envoy with 54,000 miles. It has a big engine and only gets 15.5 MPG. Although I love my Envoy, I did consider getting a new SUV (maybe a 4 cylinder) to get better mileage and performance, but I can’t afford to do that right now. I heard that there’s a special air filter that increases mileage and performance in vehicles. Is this true? If so, can you tell me what it is? Or is there is something else I could do? Thank you. Joanie from West Seneca, NY

Joanie, Yes, there is an air filter that will increase gas mileage and performance. It’s called K&N. Have one installed in your vehicle. In addition, make sure the tires are inflated properly and change the engine oil to synthetic oil. Finally, change the transmission fluid to synthetic, as well as all the differentials and transfer case. This action will also increase fuel mileage because you will reduce friction in these components by using synthetic lubricants. Best to you. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a ‘96 Buick Roadmaster wagon in pristine condition. It's the limited edition, and also the collector's edition (the last year this wagon was produced). Do you think it would be wise to hold onto it as an investment? If not, where do I go for to get an evaluation of what the vehicle is worth? Also, does this wagon have a corvette engine? Thanks. James from Buffalo

James, The engine in your wagon is a 5.7-liter. No it is not a Corvette engine. The Kelly Blue Book value in “pristine condition” is $5,700. That’s all you can expect to get unless you find someone who can’t live without it and is willing to pay whatever you ask. Then you can click your ruby red slippers three times and say to yourself, “There’s no place like home” and then … wake up and smell the coffee. Come on, James! It’s a Buick station wagon! Tom

Dear Tom, I buy the gasoline for my 2006 KIA at an Indian reservation. I have heard that they do not have the same regulations as non-Indian gas stations and that the gas could damage my car I use it exclusively. Is this true? Tina from East Otto, NY

Tina, I have been buying gas from “the rez” for twenty years with not one problem. Over the years I have heard various comments about gasoline from the reservations. For example, it was rumored that the proprietors on the Indian Reservation were irresponsible and did not check their tanks, tank seals, or pump calibration. Also, they bought cheap gas that had water in it to resell to the public, and many other ridiculous accusations. Since my experience said otherwise, I decided to speak to JD, the manager of Seneca One Stop, in an attempt to understand why these rumors have reigned for years. He offered no reason as to why these rumors exist. However, he showed me the tests that Seneca One Stop goes through to ensure that their tanks are water free, do not leak, and pump gas accurately. He assured me that the quality of the gas they buy is the highest quality offered to the motoring public. He stated that, because of the negative perception, they were overly cautious to make sure they had no problems. I cannot speak for any other Indian fueling stations because I didn’t speak to anyone except Seneca One Stop. However I have purchased “Indian gas” from other proprietors and have never had a problem (unlike a few non-Indian stations I have experienced problems with and later confirmed water was indeed in the gas). Why the rumors? In our capitalistic system, businesses compete for our dollars, so sometimes they talk negatively about one another to get a let-up on their competition. That’s just the way of the world. Tom

Dear Tom, My son drives a ‘99 Nissan Altima 2.5 engine. I took it to a mechanic for an oil change and he told me that when the Nissans with 2.5 engine reach 100k miles they suck up the oil and antifreeze. My son’s car has 102k on it and, sure enough, he was right. We started to notice that the fluids were being sucked out. We check the fluids every six weeks and replace any fluids that are needed. The oil isn't sucked up as much; however, we have to fill the antifreeze reservoir every time. What is causing this and can it be fixed without a complete engine rebuild? Brian from Moorestown, NJ

Brian, I have never heard this urban legend. However, I can tell you that the head gasket on your Nissan engine is probably blown, and that your son probably overheated the engine and drove it in that state until the head gasket blew out. This explains why the engine coolant is disappearing. It is being drawn from the cooling system into the engine and out the tailpipe. Have a talk with you son. I am sure he will confirm this suspicion. Have the engine compression tested and a cylinder leak down test performed. These tests will identify which cylinder is leaking. Removal of the head and resurfacing is necessary before replacing the head gasket. Success to you. Tom

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‘Til next time…Keep Rollin’

For more articles by Tom Torbjornsen, visit AMERICA’S CAR SHOW web site:

Tom Torbjornsen is an automotive expert of 37 years. An automotive journalist in good standing with the IMPA (International Motor Press Association), Tom is the Repair and Maintenance Editor for several websites.