Q: My 2001 Honda Accord, four-cylinder, 119,690 miles, was recently diagnosed as needing a new knock sensor. The quoted cost for the part itself was $189.69. I found via the Internet five available knock sensors with a price range from $65.35 to $181.98. The part looks relatively simple and seems to be a straightforward replacement, although a lot of labor is involved. The Internet knock sensors available all looked exactly the same, and the only difference I could see was the price and availability of three different brands. What is your experience with the part quality relative to part cost? Is there a difference between the part in relation to the cost?
Another question, I recently switched to using synthetic oil for my high-mileage cars. Do I need to use an oil filter made specifically for synthetic oils, or can I use any type of filter?
A: Because replacement of the part is so labor intensive, I would rather use the factory part. If the part fails, you will have quite the time trying to get warranty service on Internet parts. If you use the local dealer, you will have a source for warranty issues, as well as technical advice. For the few dollars you’re going to save, give it thought before you go the Internet route.
I am not a huge believer in the cost of synthetic oil versus the value received. I would be scared to change to a synthetic oil after the vehicle has had a lifetime of petroleum-based oil. Either way, the filter is the same.
Q: I have a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe, with 89,000 miles on the 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine. The car is in very good condition, however I was checking all of its fluids the other day and noticed the transmission fluid was turning black. The car runs and shifts well and does not seem to be slipping at all. Will a transmission flush and filter change save the transmission? I’ve read that if you change the screen/filter, the transmission may not shift right after that.
A: Very good question. The transmission fluid on your vehicle is turning black because it is burning up and will shortly, most likely, ruin your transmission. Replacing the filter will in no way affect your transmission shift pattern. There are a few companies that make transmission flushing machines and systems. It’s been our experience that using the BG flushing system is the most complete and noninvasive flushing system on the market. It is recommended every 30,000 miles to flush the transmission fluid. While you’re at it, you may want to consider flushing your brake fluid at this mileage, as well. Over the years, the brake fluid will attract water due to its hydroscopic nature. Slowly, over the miles, your pedal gets lower and stops take longer. After a brake fluid flush, your pedal height will be restored and your stopping distance shortened.
Car Care Tip: Recently, slippery roads have caused cars to get stuck on the ice and in the snow. Putting your gas pedal to the floor trying to get out of a stuck situation will result in engine and transmission damage and only get you stuck further in the problem you are trying to get out of.
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 email@example.com.