An­swers to your car ques­tions

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS - DENNIS O’SUL­LI­VAN PS Read­ers, Please be ad­vised that all emails can­not be an­swered. Send your ques­tions (be sure to in­clude your ad­dress) by email to: dennis.osul­li­van@co­ or mail: Box 10019, Wi­nona, ON L8E 5R1


I am a firm be­liever in re­plac­ing the oil and fil­ter ev­ery 5,000 kilo­me­ters. I had a 1999 F150 with the 4.2L V-6 en­gine with over 265,000 kilo­me­ters of mostly city driv­ing on it with­out any oil burn­ing and never hav­ing to have any­thing done to the en­gine. I be­lieve this to be the main rea­son for my re­pair free his­tory. Un­for­tu­nately, rust got the bet­ter of the truck in 2013. Re­gard­less, I have a 2012 F150 FX2 with the 3.5 Eco boost en­gine. I bought it pri­vately with 37,000 kilo­me­ters and once again, I have been do­ing oil and fil­ter changes at 5,000-kilo­me­ter in­ter­vals and have been us­ing reg­u­lar 5W30 oil. I was in Florida and re­quired an oil change so I went to a lo­cal rep­utable fam­ily garage and had an oil and fil­ter change com­pleted at 110,000 kilo­me­ters. It wasn’t un­til I ar­rived home a cou­ple of weeks later and with about 3,500 kilo­me­ters af­ter the oil change, that I no­ticed on my in­voice that the garage used Ken­dal GT1 Syn­thetic Blend 5W30. It is my fault for not in­quir­ing about the oil type and they never asked but that is not my area of con­cern. Can I go back to my reg­u­lar 5W30 or do I need to main­tain us­ing syn­thetic oil? Will go­ing back to reg­u­lar oil cause any long-term prob­lems? If I do, is there any­thing that I might have to do such as a one time shorter driv­ing pe­riod be­fore the next oil change? On a side note, my truck has an en­gine oil life read­out. At this time with 4,900 kilo­me­ters on the syn­thetic oil change, the oil life is show­ing 71% life left. With my reg­u­lar oil with 5,000 kilo­me­ters, it would have shown about 50 to 55% life left. I as­sume it’s be­cause of the syn­thetic oil but from what I read on the net, the Ford com­put­ers use al­go­rithms and not di­rect oil anal­y­sis. Can you com­ment on the big dis­crep­ancy? Thanks for your ex­per­tise. AL from Stoney Creek,


Many tech­ni­cians are of the be­lief that you can­not go back to reg­u­lar oil once you use syn­thetic oil but that think­ing is not cor­rect. I have over the years heard of stories about en­gines that were dam­aged from switch­ing back and forth but to my knowl­edge, have never been proven to be true. No one doubts that syn­thetic oil has the abil­ity to lu­bri­cate more ef­fec­tively when an en­gine is work­ing harder such as pulling a trailer but un­der nor­mal con­di­tions, con­ven­tional oil is just as ca­pa­ble of do­ing a good job.

The Ford ve­hi­cles with IOLM (In­tel­li­gent Oil Life Mon­i­tor) do not dis­tin­guish be­tween dif­fer­ent types of oil. The oil change rec­om­men­da­tions are based on ac­tual en­gine per­for­mance con­di­tions. You are cor­rect when you say that your ve­hi­cle is equipped with IOLM, which cal­cu­lates when your oil should be changed based on ac­tual en­gine per­for­mance con­di­tions. The IOLM will cal­cu­late the oil to be changed sooner if the car is driven around town or on short trips verses high­way driv­ing. You will no­tice that the oil, which the garage put in your ve­hi­cle, was “syn­thetic blend”, which is part con­ven­tional oil and part syn­thetic base oil. This mix­ture gives your en­gine some of the ben­e­fits of full syn­thetic oil but at a lower cost. To an­swer your spe­cific ques­tion, you will not do any harm to your en­gine, just your pocket book if you stay with the syn­thetic blend or full syn­thetic oil rather than re­vert­ing back to the 5W30 con­ven­tional oil.


In last week’s col­umn, we tried to help Grace with the sig­nal prob­lem on her truck. I sus­pected a ground prob­lem and my an­swer to her was to check the head­lights for be­ing prop­erly grounded. I was on the right track but I have since heard from no fewer than six trades­peo­ple who also had good sug­ges­tions and one that I ac­tu­ally missed but Clare brought it to my at­ten­tion and it is a valid point.

The fol­low­ing ad­vice is from Clare Sny­der who is a re­tired auto me­chanic, trade in­struc­tor and com­puter tech­ni­cian:

“As a long­time auto me­chanic and auto elec­tric tech­ni­cian, you were on the right track with the sig­nal prob­lem be­ing a ground prob­lem but it will most likely NOT be a head­light prob­lem. The first place that I would look is the tail­lights, since ground­ing on the pickup box is more likely to be an is­sue than on the cab of the truck. The ground prob­lem has to be com­mon to the sig­nal in ques­tion and the light­ing cir­cuit that is turned on with the head­light switch. The head­light cir­cuit does not share a ground with the park­ing light cir­cuit and the head­light cir­cuit is usu­ally ac­tive as part of the DRL sys­tem. The tail­lights, on the other hand, share a com­mon ground with the sig­nals and are only ac­ti­vated with the switch turned on.

If the tail light ground proves to not be the prob­lem, the front park­ing/sig­nal light would be the sec­ond place to look.

The way to quickly trou­bleshoot is to re­move the bulb from the rear sig­nal. If the dash in­di­ca­tor goes out, the tail­light has a bad ground. If it does not go out, then re­move the front sig­nal bulb. The chances are bet­ter than 75% that the prob­lem will be found. If nei­ther solves the prob­lem and the truck has a trailer wiring har­ness (par­tic­u­larly the round 7 pin style), the brother may be right - there could well be a short caused by cor­ro­sion be­tween the tail and sig­nal wires in the plug. If there isn’t a trailer wiring, the chances of the prob­lem be­ing iso­lated by re­mov­ing bulbs, goes up sig­nif­i­cantly. If it is not a ground prob­lem, it will be a cor­ro­sion short in one of the two sock­ets.


Thanks Clare for tak­ing the time to write and hope­fully, if Grace does find and fix the sig­nal prob­lem, she will let us know.

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