Q: I have a 2006 Dodge Caravan with 65,000 miles. The left side rocker panel is completely rusted out, big holes showing foam type insulation inside. The right side is showing the start of the same problem.

A few weeks ago a hunk of rust fell off and blew out my left rear tire. Two different independent shops told me many years of Caravans have the same problems. I called Chrysler, they sent me to a dealer to document the problem and they emailed the photos to Chrysler. Their answer: “Your five-year rust warranty expired in September 2011.” In other words: “Good-bye and good riddance.” I filed a complaint with the NHSTA, but I am only one person. The car is dangerous unless I remove all the rusty pieces. What are your views about this problem?

A: This is indeed a huge problem with not only your Caravan but many others. Hopefully enough people will read this column and share it with other Caravan owners who are experiencing the same problem. When a defect could result in a crash situation, such as the one you describe, the NHTSA should be taking a very close look at this problem. Currently there is no recall and there is not a class action suit. I will monitor the situation, and if anything shows, I have your email address. I recommend you have the rocker panels repaired for safety sake. Save your receipts just in case Chrysler decides to the right thing.

Q: I have a Chrysler 300 that uses 18” rims. Can I put a complete set of 17” snow tires on it without it affecting the handling or speedometer accuracy?

A: It is possible to install 17’’ rims and tires. However, you will want to have your computer reprogrammed for the change. Without reprogramming, your shift points will change, and your speedometer will not be accurate. You will find the handling will definitely change as well.

Q: I have a 2006 Nissan Sentra, and at my age I do not drive it very often or very far. It may take up to 6 or 8 months to get 3,000 miles. I have always done oil changes with synthetic oil. Should I still to oil changes every 3 months, or can I wait longer and at this stage of the game can I use regular oil for the oil changes? The people at the quick lube said that I could wait longer between oil changes. What is your opinion?

A: Do the oil change once every six months and you should be fine. You can certainly use regular oil, there is no need for synthetic oil unless the manufacturer absolutely calls for it. It would be a good idea to have the tires rotated every other oil change as well. While the tires are off, have the steering and suspension components checked as well as your brakes.

Car Care Tip: Auto scanner wishes all the readers a happy and healthy New Year. Be careful driving out there.

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