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Dear Car Coach: My friend drives a 2011 Subaru Forester. She had an oil change and tire rotation the other day for $96. She was shocked. Her manual recommends using synthetic oil. But when she called the dealer, they said they use 5W-30 for all oil changes.

My question is, if synthetic is recommended, is it necessary? Could regular oil be used? Also her manual recommends the oil be changed every 7,500 miles. The dealer shows 3,000 miles for the next oil change.

I thought newer cars recommend an oil change every 5,000 miles and more if you use synthetic. – E.T.

Dear ET: I’m concerned to hear that the dealer installed the wrong oil. When a manufacturer requires certain oils, there is a huge reason. Usually it’s the heat from the newer aluminum components as well as the higher RPM engines.

If your friend follows the owner’s manual and uses the full synthetic oil as recommended, then changing the oil every 7,500 miles, the engine will deliver long life and have minimal issues.

By using the “conventional oil,” you can potentially damage the engine and cause premature wear on other components. In addition, this dealer is seeking to have you back every 3,000 miles for his financial benefit. If your car uses conventional oil then you are RIGHT; every 5,000 miles is standard.

This is bad business and I’d report the dealer to the Better Business Bureau, Motor Oil Matters and Subaru. The Subaru has a well-built, strong Boxer engine that will run more than 100,000 miles with the proper fluids. Please tell your friend to find another place that pours the proper oil for her vehicle.

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Dear Car Coach: I just found out I’m pregnant. We are so excited. Now that I’m showing, should I wear my seat belt any differently? I want to be safe in every way. – S.E.

Dear S.E.: First, always wear a seat belt. Wearing your seat belt protects you and your baby from injury or death in the event of a car crash. You should wear a seat belt no matter where you sit in the car. The biggest risk with a pregnant driver or passenger is this delicate area where your baby is growing.

Here is the proper way to wear a seat belt: The seat belt should be a three-point restraint. That means it should have a lap belt strap and a shoulder belt strap. The lap and shoulder belts keep you from being thrown from the car during an accident. The shoulder strap also keeps the pressure of your body off the baby after a crash.

Be sure to wear your seat belt correctly. The lap strap should go under your belly, across your hips and as high as possible on your thighs. The shoulder strap should go between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.

Seat belt straps should never go directly across your stomach. The seat belt should fit snugly. If possible, adjust the height of the shoulder strap so that it fits you correctly.

Another concern is air bags. Most experts agree that air bags are safe and can protect pregnant women from head injury. The air bags in your car should not be turned off when you are pregnant.

To be safe, you should move the seat back as far as possible and tilt the seat to get some distance between your belly and the steering wheel or dashboard.

Air bags are not a substitute for a seat belt, so always wear your seat belt even if your car has air bags.

Even if you are a passenger and sitting anywhere in the vehicle, you should sit in the back seat. Injuries from car crashes tend to be less serious in people who are sitting in the back seat. (Even in the back seat, it is still important to wear a seat belt.)

If you are in a car crash you should get treatment right away, even if you think you are not hurt. Most injuries to the baby happen within a few hours after a crash.

Your doctor needs to check you and your baby as soon as possible after a crash, especially if you are more than six months’ pregnant. There is more information at the American Family Physician website.

For any driver, wearing your seatbelt in tandem with the airbags in your auto is the safest way to travel.

In addition, remember to make sure that the center of your chest (for any driver - male or female) should be 12 inches from the airbag. Never sit too close to your airbag for your safety. If the airbag ever deploys in an accident this distance is the safest place to sit.

email: contact@laurenfix.com