Coolant leak addressable

Q: I have a 1995 Jeep Wrangler with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 135,000 miles on it. The engine has a small coolant leak at a freeze plug somewhere between the back of the engine and the front of the transmission. My mechanic informed me that it would mean pulling the engine to fix the leak. He said that it is much easier and cheaper to monitor the coolant level regularly.

I have found that I only have to add about 6 to 8 ounces of coolant every two weeks. My mechanic said the leak will probably not get worse. Is there a product I can add through the radiator that will stop the leak? Would I risk damaging anything if I used such a product? Do you think my mechanic is right?

— M.L., Chicago

A: There are several brands, such as Gunk, Gold Eagle and Bar's, that have been around long enough to have a reputation for working. You really can't go wrong with trying one to see if the leak stops. If, on the other hand, the leak gets worse, the freeze plug — it's called a core hole plug — will have to be replaced. Replacement plugs are inexpensive, but the labor to reach some can be rather high.

Q: I was disappointed and a bit insulted upon reading your condescending reply about frost on the inside of the windshield.

Not very often, but I, too, have had significant frost inside my windshield. I suppose it has to do with a large drop in temperature and dew point along with nighttime radiation cooling. One either has to run the car long enough to melt it and then wipe up the puddles, or scrape it and mop up the ice and puddles. By the way, I run the AC with the vent open all winter, and I live in a Chicago suburb. You owe M.C. an apology, as well as all the rest of us you accused of being stupid.

— B.H., Chicago suburb

A: First, I never accused anyone of being stupid. I read M.C.'s message to mean that he had issues while driving his minivan, not when he first entered it after sitting outside on a cold, damp night.

Q: I have a 2012 Honda van that requires 0W-20 oil. Oil change shops only sell a pure synthetic 0W-20 oil at double the nonsynthetic price. When I go to the dealer, they have a synthetic blend 0W-20 that they sell at a normal oil change price. What is a synthetic blend? Can the Honda use anything other than their 0W-20 weight, like a 5W-20?

— J.M., Darien, Ill.

A: Synthetic blends are exactly what you would expect them to be, a combination of synthetic oil blended with regular oil. Most of the major oil companies sell such a product. Check your owner's manual and you may discover that 5W-20 oil is acceptable. Carmakers are pushing 0W-20 weight oils since they improve fuel economy and every bit matters when they are targeting the corporate average fuel economy bogey. Incidentally, 0W-16 oil may be on the horizon.

Send questions to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, or with name and town to motormouth.trib@verizon.net.

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