Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - RAY MAGLIOZZI Ray Magliozzi dis­penses ad­vice about cars in Car Talk ev­ery Satur­day. Email him by vis­it­ing

DEAR CAR TALK: I have a new 2017 Honda Ridge­line. The speedome­ter is dig­i­tal; it shows nu­mer­als only. It has no dial. How­ever, it still has an ana­log tachome­ter. The trans­mis­sion is an au­to­matic 6-speed. Why do you need a tachome­ter with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion? In the old days, the tachome­ter was a ne­ces­sity for man­ual trans­mis­sions. With to­day’s au­to­matic com­put­er­ized trans­mis­sions it seems to be of lit­tle value. I would much rather have a speedome­ter dial in­stead of a tachome­ter. What do you think?

— Bill DEAR BILL: There’s no real rea­son a car with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion needs a tachome­ter. You can drive that car 200,000 miles and never need to know what the en­gine speed is. Even if you shift it man­u­ally, the com­puter will pre­vent you from do­ing any­thing stupid, like over-revving the en­gine. It’ll just cut off the fuel sup­ply or spark when you ap­proach the red line.

So why does it have a tach? Well, with­out it, there’d be a big hole in your dash­board. That wouldn’t look good. They could put a clock there, but there’s prob­a­bly al­ready a clock on the video screen.

I tend to agree with you. I pre­fer a speedome­ter dial to the dig­i­tal read­out. But you got what you got, Bill.

There’s hope for the fu­ture, how­ever, as more and more new cars are start­ing to come with cus­tom­iz­a­ble video dis­plays in­stead of in­stru­ment clus­ters. So, in­stead of an ana­log speedome­ter, there’s a high-def­i­ni­tion LCD screen, and the com­puter cre­ates an im­age of a speedome­ter that looks and acts like an ana­log speedome­ter, with a mov­ing dial.

And with these dis­plays, you can cus­tom­ize what you see on the in­stru­ment panel in front of you. You can make the speedome­ter and tachome­ter smaller, and see a large nav­i­ga­tion map in the mid­dle. Or you can see your en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem’s choices. You can’t see Judge Judy yet, but that’s prob­a­bly com­ing.

And there’s noth­ing stop­ping the man­u­fac­tur­ers from let­ting you choose which in­stru­ments you want to see, so you could have a speedome­ter in­stead of a tachome­ter, and your neigh­bor, Fred, could mon­i­tor his oil tem­per­a­ture in 7-inch grandeur. You’ll be able to get that on your 2022 Ridge­line.

Ac­tu­ally, I find that there is one un­sung ad­van­tage of a tachome­ter these days. Some cars are so quiet now that it’s ac­tu­ally hard to tell if they’re run­ning. And with push-but­ton ig­ni­tion, you no longer re­move the key af­ter shut­ting off the ig­ni­tion. So I’ll ad­mit to glanc­ing at the tachome­ter from time to time to make sure I’ve turned off the en­gine be­fore I get out.

DEAR CAR TALK: Where is my oil? Our 2013 Equinox with 52,000 miles has dis­ap­pear­ing oil. Be­tween the last three sched­uled oil changes, we lost more than 2 quarts. Last week I checked the dip­stick, and noth­ing reg­is­tered. I added a quart, and it came up to three-six­teenths of an inch on the stick. Now the oil-change read­out says 29 per­cent left un­til oil change. I took it to the dealer and they found noth­ing. They saw no drips, no signs of oil run­ning down the out­side of the en­gine, and when the car is run­ning, they saw no smoke com­ing out of the tailpipe, and no smells. They are stumped, and so is this chump. So, what are your thoughts?

— Charles DEAR CHARLES: Well, un­less some neigh­bor is sneak­ing into your drive­way at night and si­phon­ing out your oil, you’re burn­ing it. It just might not be enough to be vis­i­ble yet.

If you lost about 2 ½ quarts be­tween each of your last three oil changes, that’s not a good sign on a car with only 52,000 miles. But it’s not “start frack­ing in the back­yard”-level oil burn­ing yet, ei­ther.

If you’re a typ­i­cal driver, you change your oil ev­ery 7,500 miles or so. Maybe more. So you’re burn­ing the equiv­a­lent of a quart ev­ery 3,000 miles.

Nor­mally, peo­ple start com­plain­ing to us when they’re burn­ing a quart ev­ery 1,000 miles, or a quart ev­ery 500. My brother wouldn’t even buy a car un­less it was burn­ing at least a quart ev­ery 250.

My more im­me­di­ate con­cern is that you al­lowed the oil level to get more than a quart low be­fore adding oil. So you need to be more vig­i­lant and check it more of­ten. Let­ting the en­gine run low on oil will only harm the rings and in­crease your oil burn­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, oil burn­ing also tends to get worse over time. So your cur­rent rate doesn’t bode well for this car’s longevity with­out a re­built en­gine at some point. So if you’re still un­der some sort of ex­tended war­ranty, you want to be sure to have your dealer doc­u­ment the oil loss, even if they claim to be stumped by what’s caus­ing it.

They do that by seal­ing the sys­tem, so you can’t tam­per with it, and then hav­ing you come back in at cer­tain in­ter­vals to doc­u­ment the oil loss. That may give you a bet­ter case to make, should the oil con­sump­tion take a sud­den turn for the vo­lu­mi­nous in the near fu­ture.

Or — and this prob­a­bly would be my ap­proach — since the dealer didn’t see any blue smoke com­ing out of the tailpipe when you took the car in for ser­vice, you can as­sume they won’t see any if you go back next week to trade in the car, Charles. Good luck.

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