Q: What is your take on 50 percent recycled oil? Stores are offering more of this oil. Is it just as good as new oil? Or should I stay with 100 percent new oil?
A: As an oil "consumer" — meaning I buy and change my own oil — here's my take on recycled oil. I'm absolutely sure it's as good as 100 percent new oil, meets all of the Society of Automotive Engineers and American Petroleum Institute service ratings and standards, and provides equal protection and performance. But — and here's where personal "baggage" comes into play — I'll stick with new oil. The vehicles and engines I own are mine, I'm responsible for their maintenance and longevity, so I'll continue to buy and use synthetic oil — the best oil available.
For the relatively small difference in price, I'm simply more comfortable sticking with what's worked for me for decades. At least until the price of recycled oil becomes so attractive that the Scrooge in me can't resist.
Q: In August 2011 we purchased a 2012 Ford Fusion SEL to tow behind our motor home. We specifically asked the dealer what Ford products could be flat-towed as we did not want to deal with a tow dolly. We were told a Fusion would meet our needs. Six months later, an Owners Guide Supplement dated February 2012 came out saying that "Front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles CANNOT be flat-towed (all wheels on the ground) as vehicle or transmission damage may occur. The front wheels must be placed on a two-wheel tow dolly."
After finding out about this, we were told by the Ford dealer that we could continue to flat tow the vehicle and our 36-month warranty would cover any issues. We have already experienced a major tow-related problem with the transmission, which was repaired under warranty in March.
Since we invested a substantial sum to outfit the car to be flat towed, we feel that the change in Ford's position in the Owners Guide Supplement about this vehicle has substantially impaired the intended use of the vehicle. We also believe that the market value of the vehicle has been impacted if we decide we should sell it. Lastly, we feel that the safety of the vehicle has been severely compromised since we could have a major problem if the transmission should malfunction while we are towing it. Any advice?
A: Space limitations forced me to leave out your comments on the "impaired use and loss of value" issues, which are valid concerns. But to the heart of the matter: Depending on the build date of your Fusion, Ford Technical Service Bulletin 12-11-5, dated November 2012, identifies which Fusion models with the 6F35 automatic transmissions can be flat towed with all four wheels on the pavement. The short version is these vehicles can be flat towed for no more than six hours at speeds of 65 miles per hour or less, if the transmission fluid level is set correctly, and if the engine is run every six hours to cool the transmission fluid.
The issue is transmission fluid overheating and inadequate lubrication due to the fact that the transmission oil pump is not being driven by the running engine. This is always a concern when flat towing a vehicle with an automatic transmission and is why I've always recommended a tow dolly or trailer. Besides, the difference in wheelbase between the tow vehicle and towed vehicle can make sharp maneuvers difficult.
In my opinion you have three choices: Use a tow dolly (my choice), buy or persuade Ford to extend the warranty long enough to cover your intended ownership, or trade the vehicle. The problem with trading is that you may well face the same situation unless the vehicle is fitted with a manual transmission or you can unlock the driven wheels from the drivetrain for towing.