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posted: 3/9/2013 3:00 AM

Synthetic oil needs less frequent changes

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Q. I have a follow-up question to your response about rarely driven cars still requiring regular oil changes. Mine is a 2011 Cadillac CTS. I, too, am retired and drive 2,000 to 4,000 miles a year for short trips.

Here's a couple of differences: I use synthetic oil and have remote start so in cold weather, my oil pressure and temperature are in normal range before I arrive at my destination. I bought the car used from a Cadillac dealer in September with 17,500 miles.

Cadillac sends me information from the "On-Star Remote" application that I'll be due for an oil change at 24,000 miles. It will take me about two years to reach 24,000 miles. They do not say anything about length of time between services. Would your advice be the same -- change the oil twice a year?

A. Since you are using a full synthetic oil, you could change your oil once per year. I would recommend that at the six-month mark you have your shop check the air in your tires and perform an under-hood inspection consisting of checking all fluids, belts, hoses, wipers and filters.

At that time you could have a tire rotation done so you would be doing that once a year, also, and this would allow them to keep an eye on your brakes. Happy motoring!

Q. Can you please answer two questions that my grandchildren asked me? (By the way, I am 84 years old and think I know everything!) They saw an old article on a 1929 (year of my birth) Ford convertible "Cabriolet."

First: What is a four Houdaville Hydraulic Double Stick Absorber? Second: What is a Fully Enclosed, Silent Six Brake System?

A. I had no idea on either of these items so I did the old Google search and found them.

The "silent six-brake system" is what Ford called its braking system introduced on the 1928 Model A Ford. The six referred to the four wheels and a separate set for the emergency brakes. They also enclosed the mechanics of the braking system so that there was less chance of exposure to the elements.

There were many other features that were new at the time. You can read about this in detail at

I found some information on the Houdaville shock system as well. Maurice Houdaville invented the hydraulic rotary style shock absorber around 1906 and it was also used on the 1928 Model A. I could not find an explanation of the double stick but I found some pictures that show some of these shocks with two levers instead of one, so I imagine that is what it is referring to. Here is a link for more information.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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