, Salem, MA

March 16, 2013

Do I have to use Nissan oil filters in Frontier?

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Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I recently purchased a 2012 Nissan Frontier. The manual suggests using only Nissan oil filters because they have a built-in check valve. I have always used Fram oil filters in my vehicles. Can Fram filters be used on my Nissan or must I use only Nissan filters?

A: You can use any brand you want as long as the product says “meets or exceeds manufacturers specifications.” You don’t have to use parts from Nissan. However, you should be aware that if the engine has a failure while under warranty by Nissan, they may claim the failure happened due to lack of proper maintenance and the use of non-factory-recommended parts. Even though you have used parts that exceed the manufacturer specs, you may have a bit of a fight on your hands. I am not saying this will happen, I am merely saying this could happen.

Q: I have a 2001 Acura MDX. It has about 130,000 miles. My husband thinks we should replace the water pump and the timing belt as a precautionary measure at this time. Do you agree? By the way, I emailed you once before regarding the SRS light that was always on. The dealership fixed it for nothing and said it was covered under warranty ... not bad for a 10-year-old car. I just wish I had known this before I took it elsewhere for this problem and spent a needless several hundred dollars that did not resolve the problem.

A: I agree with your husband. A timing belt with 130,000 miles and over 10 years old is suspect for breakage. Your engine is an interference engine, and valve damage could result if and when the timing belt breaks. I would suggest having a BG coolant flush at the same time you replace your drive belts and your water pump.

Q: I have a 1998 Chevy Astro that won’t stop overheating. I have had fan belt, hoses, the fan clutch, temperature gauge and radiator replaced. In desperation, I bought a used engine and had it installed. The temperature gauge still goes up to 3/4 and most of the time comes back down while still driving. Sometimes I have to park it and wait several hours to get it to cool back down. What is left to check?

A: I had a similar car problem many years ago. The customer had done most of the repairs you listed. My shop checked all the mechanical and cooling functions and found them to be working fine. The problem happened to be a missing air dam in the front of the vehicle. Check that all the plastic components below the grill are properly in place, as well as the electric fan. You may want to check the radiator fan to make sure it is not spinning backward. The fan should be pulling in air from the outside. A fan running in reverse will be blowing air out of the grill — that’s not what you want.

Car Care Tip: While driving home the other night, I glanced over at cars near me on Interstate 95 in the Topsfield area. Seven out of the 10 drivers that I passed or were near me had cellphones to their heads and were clearly not concentrating fully on the road. To those needing to talk on phones while driving, consider using a Bluetooth device.


Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to