Let’s Talk Wheels: Car Questions

Christopher: I’m retiring in 187 days. (who’s counting?) I want to travel and take MY Wife and two German Shepherds with me. Should I get a 24-30’ travel trailer and an HD truck? Or get a Class C Motorhome and tow My Jeep behind it? What are your thoughts? (think about carrying the dogs on the road) 

Mike: What a great adventure, congratulations! I have traveled with both a Class A Motorhome and also a travel trailer, so I know what I would choose. The motorhome is excellent when you are actually on the road. You can pull over in a roadside park and have dinner, then continue, whereas a travel trailer requires time to set up. And, the dogs would have the run of the place and not have to be kenneled or stuck in the back seat. Can’t do this with a travel trailer. However, once you get parked, the travel trailer has an advantage. More useable space is the best thing here. The best way to decide is by recognizing what type of traveling you are going to do; If you are going to park somewhere for weeks or months at a time, then the travel trailer and HD truck is the way to go. Plus, it gives you a vehicle to drive when you aren’t traveling. If you are going to be always on the go, then a motorhome and a dingy is best. 

Duggan writes: I have a 2019 Honda that uses a quart of oil every 1200 Miles. It has 31,000 miles. My dealer has done an oil consumption test, and they tell me that it is within the factory allowable limits. Is there anything I can do? Why does this happen?  

Mike: Engines have thousands of moving parts. Sometimes an engine has several components that may be at one end of their serviceable limit and added together the result is oil consumption. These problems happen more often than you know. The problem is the dealer would have a real issue finding the exact problem that led to this oil consumption. I would appeal to the factory rep to take another look at it under Goodwill Warranty. In the meantime, do not let it run low on oil. In 5000 miles, your engine would be than four quarts low on oil, causing damage. If you damage your engine by running it low on oil, your warranty will not pay for repairs. So, check your oil often until you get your problem resolved. Consumer Reports had an article a few years ago that reported the same problem you are having. You might want to do some research on your own. 

 Charlene asks; You always talk about finding a shop to work with that employs ASE Certified Techs. Does the ASE teach them what to do? Why do you consider this important? If a mechanic doesn’t have this certification, should we not trust them? I love your show, have listened for five years. 

Mike: Thanks for being a faithful listener, and for asking such a great question. First of all, the ASE people only provide testing and subsequent certifications for technicians that pass their exams. To become an ASE Master technician, you must pass tests covering eight areas: Engine Repair, Automatic Transmission/Transaxle, Manual Transmission, Suspension and Steering, Brakes, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Heating & Air Conditioning, and Engine Performance. There are several other certifications available for Diesel Engines and HD Trucks, but let’s concentrate on these. 

Being a professional automobile technician requires a huge investment in tools (over $100k) and ongoing training. Sure, there are plenty of good techs out there that aren’t certified. However, the true professional technician will take the time to get the certifications to show his dedication to his or her craft. Certifications help the industry dispel the “grease monkey mechanic” image projected over the years. Modern cars contain over 70 processors and over 50,000 parts. Techs nowadays are more computer techs than auto techs, and many make over $125k a year. A shop with the ASE sign out front is working to raise the professionalism in the industry, something that is sorely needed.