Q. I own a 2007 Honda Accord with a four-cylinder engine. The owner's manual calls for a certain weight conventional oil, but I want to use a synthetic oil because I read that it's better than regular oil and will give better fuel economy. Would I be making the right decision
using synthetic oil or should I stick with regular oil? -- S.O., Chicago
A. Stick with the recommendation in your owner's manual. After all, it comes from the outfit that designed and built the car. There's no need for costlier synthetic oil unless you are towing heavy loads such as a boat or trailer or continually revving the engine hard. Your Honda's four-cylinder engine, although fairly sophisticated, is far different than high-horsepower engines put in, say, fast sports cars. Some such engines require factory-recommended synthetic oil.
Q. My Cadillac Catera has proved a bit troublesome but possesses a nice European feel. I'm thinking of trading it in for a new Cadillac CTS. Your thoughts? -- E.W., Evanston, Ill.
A. The Catera feels "European" because it was a modified American version of a top General Motors European Opel model. It was offered from 1997 through 2001 and was replaced by Cadillac's European-style CTS for the 2003 model year. The Catera had a reputation for being a little troublesome, but was a good "road car," in the European sense.The resale value isn't great because lots of people have forgotten the car, but I think it's time for a CTS.
Q. I recently bought a late-model Chrysler PT Cruiser, which still has a factory warranty.. Should I buy an extended warranty for it? Someone told me it was made by Mercedes-Benz. Did I make a good deal? -- J.W., Romeoville, Ill.
A. How "late-model" is your PT Cruiser, and what is its mileage? Were you provided with maintenance records that show if it had regular oil changes and such? If it appears neglected, an extended warranty likely is a good idea because neglect eventually causes trouble. But read the warranty's fine print and get it from a reputable outfit. It's impossible to tell if you got a good deal unless I could check the paperwork and vehicle.. Let's hope it had at least routine maintenance and was driven in a reasonably sane manner. The PT Cruiser has been built in many different model trims by Chrysler, which was controlled for years by Mercedes-Benz, although it has no Mercedes components.
Q. I recently bought a 2008 Kia Sportage LX compact sport-utility vehicle. I like it a lot. It has a four-cylinder engine and no power accessories,
except for the windows. I'm 66 years old and like a vehicle that is easy to enter. What can you say about it? -- M.A.S.,, Crestwood, Ill.
A. The Kia Sportage is carlike and roomy, with attractive pricing and a strong warranty. The Kia's 2-liter 140-horsepower four-cylinder is fine in the city, but has no surplus of power for highway merging or passing. I'd prefer the costlier but less fuel-thrify 3.7-liter, 173-horsepower V-6, although it doesn't make the Sportage a fireball. The Sportage only has a four-speed automatic transmission, which isn't as up-to-date as a five-speed automatic. (A five-speed manual gearbox also was offered with the "four.") Your statement about the lack of power equipment baffles me because the well-equipped 2008 Sportage LX also had power mirrors and door locks, besides the power windows you mention.