Are electric cars the future? | Car Doctor – The Providence Journal

A: Although electric cars have been around for more than 100 years, they have really only improved in the last 15 years or so.
I owned an electric car in the 1980s, and it was a terrible car with limited range and acceleration. Today, nearly every electric car has a range of more than 200 miles (some as high as 500 miles) with a performance that matches — or bests — most gasoline cars.
For many drivers, an electric car can meet all their driving needs, especially if they can charge at home. Where electric cars can fall short is in cold-weather performance (range can drop to as low as 50%), finding a public charging station, and initial cost.
Are electric cars the future? Yes, but instead of battery electric, they may have electric motors powered by hydrogen. I think in 25 or 30 years, gasoline cars may be as rare as cars with a clutch pedal.
Q: I have a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with a 3.6L V-6 engine with 103,000 miles on it. I am about to put in my fourth radiator due to leaking. The first radiator was covered under warranty; the others were paid for out of pocket.
Jeep knows they have a systemic problem with the design being part plastic, but they are not doing anything about it. Based on my experience, this is definitely my last Jeep.
There are aluminum aftermarket radiators out there. Do you know of one that has been successfully used to replace Jeep’s plastic, junky radiator? The last radiator lasted only 23,000 miles.
A: Today, nearly every vehicle manufacturer uses radiators with aluminum cooling cores and plastic tanks. Although I have seen some failures of the radiators in the Grand Cherokee, they weren’t to the extent that you are experiencing.
I looked at Summit Racing, and even their high-performance radiators are an aluminum and plastic type. I did find one source online that does have a fully aluminum radiator. If I had that many failures, I certainly would give it a try.
I would also be very critical about mounting and would look for issues that could affect the radiator, such as worn engine mounts. I would also check Jeep forums to see what other Jeep owners are using.
Q: I have a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible that trembles when I accelerate through the gears. In the last few weeks, it actually ran smoothly for three days, but it’s now back to trembling when accelerating. What could it be?
A: The most common cause is lack of maintenance. Spark plugs, ignition wires and ignition coils can fail over time and cause a stutter and hesitation. Many owners look under the hood of this vehicle and see that the intake manifold needs to be removed to change the spark plugs, and they just put off servicing the car.
Also, if it hasn’t been performed yet, you may want to consider replacing the timing belt. The timing belt is not a simple replacement, as it takes about seven hours, but if it fails, you will be replacing the engine.
Q: How long should headlights last? I had one car in which the headlights lasted 10 years. In my current car, I’m replacing bulbs every two years.
A: The average life of a conventional halogen bulb is five years (although they start to dim after about two years).
High-performance halogen bulbs may only last two years, but the light is whiter and brighter. As we age, we need more light to see, so vehicle lighting is critical for driving safety.
Q: I have been using synthetic oil in an older truck for 15 years. The last time I purchased a 5-quart jug, it was almost $30. On the same shelf was a store brand for about $18. Should I take a chance on this non-name oil?
A: As big as retailers are, they don’t own refineries. I have no problem with store-brand oil, as long as it meets the vehicle specifications.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.


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