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Ask the Patch Pro: Expert Taking Your Car Questions

Our expert have all your vehicle-related questions covered in the latest installment of Patch Pros.

No matter how long you've been driving or how much time you've spent under the hood, there's always questions when it comes to cars.

Why is my car making weird noises? What fuel should I use? How often should I change my oil? What do you look for when inspecting a used car? What are the best new automobiles on the market?   

We at Patch don't have the answers to those (and your) questions, but not to worry. We've got an expert to help us out.

Meet our expert: 

  • Steven Paul, Senior Inspector/President at Test Drive Technologies. Paul has more than 15 of automotive and heavy duty repair experience to work for the people of

Got a question? Ask below!

Joe Barker July 18, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I got my oil changed in my car two months again and am supposed to go back in a few weeks to get it changed again. The problem is, I've driven less than 1,000 miles since the oil change. What's more important: changing the oil based on mileage or based on date?
Tamara Duncan July 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Is it normal for a turbo diesel engine to shift roughly, especially at lower speeds?
Steven Paul July 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Hello everybody. I am Steven Paul the President of Test Drive Technologies. I have over 15 years of automobile and heavy duty truck repair experience as well as many years of inspecting vehicles. I am happy to help out here and look forward to answering all of your questions. There might be some that I cannot answer without knowing more about your vehicle and I will tell you up front if I cannot answer your question.
Steven Paul July 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Joe - Engine oil not only captures the dirt and contaminates from the inside of your engine and needs to be changed about every 3000 miles but it also breaks down over time just like the settling that happens in ketchup especially when it is hot outside and your engine is running hard and hot for your trips. Engine oil is just like any other type of oil and is made to break down over time. This is why manufactures place time & mileage limits on oil changes. Most cars these days can go a bit further on an oil change without many problems but you should go by what the manufacture states in your owner's manual for routine maintenance. Here is a great resource for finding a downloadable owner's manual if you don't have yours http://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-find-your-car-owners-manual-online.html
Steven Paul July 18, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Tamara, Great question! Many people assume just because a vehicle has a turbo diesel engine that it should be "heavy duty" and might run a bit rougher... This is absolutely false. Technology these days has almost made diesel engines run just as smooth and quite as gasoline engines... OK for the transmission issue there are a number of things that can be at play there.. Most transmisions are electronic these days which means they have their own computer system just like your engine. Depending on your mileage on your vehicle and the last time your transmission was serviced you might need to consider having it "flushed & changed".. There is a difference in both of flushing and changing the transmission fluid. A fluid change just drains and replaces what falls out, a flush only takes care of the fluid and not changing the filter. I recommend finding a shop that will do both. I have a couple of resources for you to get that done but you should contact me outside of this forum for those sources.
Kalen Ponche July 18, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Hi Steven, I'm wondering if there's an average mileage at which you can expect a typical car to experience problems. I know it's hard to generalize but is it 50,000 miles when things start to break down? 100,000? My car has about 120,000 miles on it now and has not had any major problems, knock wood. Can I make it to 200,000? :)
Steven Paul July 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Kalen - WOW.. this is a fun question... Depending on your year, make and model and past routine maintenance is when your car might start experiencing issues. I have seen some vehicles that have lasted 200K with just a simple belt here and there and oil changes but others that have had issues even while they are under factory warranty. Depending on your make / model I recommend finding out if your car has a "timing belt" or a "timing chain" as timing belts normally need to be replaced at the 100K mark if they break it could cost you an entire engine (we don't want that to happen).. Your timing belt is NOT the one you can see just by opening your hood.. It is behind a couple of covers and needs to be serviced by a auto repair shop or dealership. As far as the mileage question, I have personally had several vehicles last past the 200,000 mark just by taking good car of them. Slow down on bumps, change your oil as your owner's manual says and make sure your transmission and coolant system is also serviced as they should be and you should be good to go. Now as far as the other stuff (knobs, controls and switches) a lot of that stuff is made of plastic and it gets brittle after a few years. If you want to contact me personally through my website I can provide you with a free 1 on 1 car care consult.
becky July 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I have a 97 honda civic with 109,000 recently my temp gage has been bouncing from the middle to slightly above the middle, but no where near or in the red . When i am driving the temp is steady and non moving in the middle, but once i stop thats when the temp starts to rise. Is this normal because the heat recently or could it be something more?
Steven Paul July 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Becky - your gauge being around the safe zone is five and not surprisi.g for the heat we are having these days. It us really tough on our cars to keep their cool in this heat. Just to be on the safe side if you don't know when the last time your coolant system was flushed it would be a good idea to get it done. This cleans out all the debris and buildup that occurs in your radiator over time. Also take a peak inside your grill area and look for bugs and any bends in your radiator as these also cause fluctuating temps. If you would like me to take a peak for you I can meet up with you some Tuesday afternoon. No charge, just leave me a message on my website.
Nicole Gattas July 19, 2012 at 08:17 AM
Steven, what do you think about premium gasoline? Several of my family members use it because the manufacturer recommends it for their cars, but to me it seems like such a waste of money. Is it true that warrantees are not valid if they recommend you use it and you do not?
Steven Paul July 19, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Nicole - unfortunately auto manufactures have owners pinned to the wall on this one. A lot of the luxury brands like Mercedes & BMW are designed with European ideas in mind. The higher octane fuels are used mostly in Europe so those cars are designed with that in mind but being that they are performance engines they do require that better grade of fuel not only to run smoother and have the power they need but also there are internal parts that will actually show that they are breaking down because of the lower grade fuels. Will the car run on lower grade fuel? Yes. Will it run good? No. Will lower grade fuel void your warranty on those cars? Yes, if the manufacture has specified it in the owners manual that premium fuel must be used. It is a sad thing but those that purchase those vehicles usually know before they move into that class of cars. Part of my job is to help buyers understand those things before they buy.
James Jetke August 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I have a Dodge Ram truck with 154,000 on it, Trans fluid has never been changed. Thinking of having it and fliter changed but have heard rumors that you should never do it, if never done before on high mileage Veh. Whats your take on this matter?
Steven Paul August 02, 2012 at 08:20 PM
James - many people will say that however the outcome of ignoring the fluid change will likely be much worse than having the fluid changed. I recommend having it changed vs. flushed unless it is a LOW pressure flush which is done by using the input and output lines that lead to the transmission cooler. If a high pressure change is done (much like what the machines do) it could cause some issues. But a fluid change shouldn't really hurt anything. Just drain the fluid, drop the pan and change the filter.. Installation is opposite of removal. 154K isn't much.. I have seen some with 200+ get changed (of course they were in for issues) but they were fine afterwards. Remember - low pressure flush or change.. No quick lube flushes for this situation.

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