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Battery life relies on list of factors

DEAR DOCTOR: I have a 2013 Lincoln MKZ with the four-cylinder engine. I’ve had to replace the battery two times in five years — that’s three batteries in five years! Why would this be necessary? The car gives no warning; it just won’t start, even with a jump.

— Wilma

DEAR WILMA: Average battery life is three to four years, though some batteries can last a lot longer. Much depends on the climate, how often the car is driven, and the type of driving. Lots of local driving and short trips, stop-and-go traffic, and hot climate all shorten battery life. Like any other product, quality also plays a role in battery life. If the vehicle checks out with no problems, then have the technician install an AGM dry cell battery. It will cost more than a conventional battery, but — in my opinion — it is worth the money.

DEAR DOCTOR: We love our 2018 Nissan Armada V-8. The headlights seem to be pointing way too low, providing only about 20-25 feet of light when driving at night on dark roads. This seems to be extremely dangerous. We can’t see anything until it gets too close. The dealer said the headlights are not adjustable. We are reluctant to drive it at night, but our family takes many kids sports-related road trips. We can’t believe Nissan is not recalling this vehicle to correct the problem, as there are hundreds of similar complaints online. What can we do? Also do you recommend premium fuel or regular for this V-8 engine?

— AJ

DEAR AJ: First, all vehicles must meet Department of Transportation standards, including lighting. The lights are set from the factory. Most headlight assemblies do have adjustments. With this said, if your vehicle has standard non-LED headlights, you can swap out the conventional bulbs as well as foglights (if equipped) with LED units. You can also install a set of LED driving lights; they come with simple instructions and an off / on switch. I install a lot of driving lights in various vehicles. Height adjustment is a simple move on the light pivot.

DEAR DOCTOR: In your reply to a 75-year-old reader who asked your opinion on vehicles he’s considering for purchase (Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, Honda), you advised him against buying one with a CVT transmission. Can you please explain the basis for your recommendation? I am looking to purchase a new Honda CR-V, and I’m 70 years old.

— Ray

DEAR RAY: This is my observation. Over the last five to six years, I’ve started seeing more CVT transmissions from various vehicle brands show up at my shop. The failure rate is high — just check online. While I do not recommend the CVT, you should buy whatever vehicle fits your needs. The Honda CR-V has always been a reliable vehicle.

DEAR DOCTOR: My wife and I listen to books on CD from the library in our BMW X3; we are considering replacing with a new X3, but we’re finding that the newer X3 vehicles don’t come with CD players. Can you recommend a vehicle in the same class that offers a CD player?

— Rick

DEAR RICK: Consider trying a regular portable CD player or a portable player with a Bluetooth connection. Either will plug into the media port for audio sound. It’s becoming the trend most carmakers have moved away from offering compact disc players in today’s vehicles.