motormouth bob weber
Q: I'm caught on the horns of a car-buying dilemma. We like the 2017 Honda CR-V EX with all-wheel drive, as well as other features not available in the LX model. However, I got warnings from two different mechanics about getting a vehicle with a turbocharged engine. The rap is on the consumption of oil as well as the need for premium gas. The last mechanic I spoke to said engine design is trending toward turbos anyway because of government emissions standards. And, using ordinary unleaded gas is an option, but the computer has to alter the settings to accommodate nonpremium gas, and that adds more complications to its operation. The oil consumption is not dramatic but still an issue along with the heat generated by the turbo. Am I getting myself into hot water by buying this car, or am I working myself up over nothing?
C.M., Geneva, Ill.
A: Chill, C.M. There are lots of vehicles out there with turbocharged engines. Ford, for instance, offers EcoBoost engines in 10 models, including the F-150 pickup. Back in the early days, like in the 1980s, turbo bearings were prone to failure and that led to oil consumption. Are turbos any better now? According to U.S News & World Report: "These days, small turbocharged engines deliver a better driving experience than non-turbocharged models. And while not all of them live up to their promised fuel economy, some do very well. Whether you're looking for performance, high fuel-economy estimates, or reliability, it's important to look at the ratings for each individual model you're considering. A turbocharged engine, though, is no longer a good reason to eliminate a model from consideration."
Q: After reading your column regarding synthetic motor oil, I called the dealership that has serviced my car for many years. It's a 2008 Impala (six-cylinder) with approximately 101,000 miles. The service rep said they have always used conventional motor oil and that he didn't recommend changing because synthetic oil would "eat away rubber" parts. (I'm not sure what rubber parts it comes in contact with. That's one of the many reasons why I don't write an auto advice column.) Are you aware of any problems like the one he described?
A: Various gaskets and seals are made of rubber, but not the old-fashioned stuff that became soft from contact with synthetic oils. In fact, modern gaskets and seals are made of high-tech synthetics that are unaffected by the oils. Switch to synthetic oil if you wish, but be ready to pay a premium price. You can save a little by using semi-synthetics that are a blend of conventional and synthetic oil. Or you can simply stick with the dinosaur juice you have been using. Just change your oil regularly.
Q: I bought a 2017 Buick Envision five months ago. The auto stop feature is used a lot while in stop-and-go traffic. Doesn't this put more stress than usual on the starter motor?
K.G., Tamarac, Fla.
A: Yes. But the starter motor is designed to withstand the stress and will not fail prematurely.
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 has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to firstname.lastname@example.org.