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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 45

by Bob Hagin

Q. About one year ago I had the brakes relined in my 1992 Buick Roadmaster. The relined brakes squeak constantly. I bought the car new and the original brakes never squeaked. The brake repairman told me that since the government outlawed asbestos brake pads, this is a common problem for which there is no solution. This is hard to believe. I drive in traffic quite frequently and I don't hear other brakes squeaking.
O.F. Mercer Island, WA

A. There's an old adage that says that you get what you pay for. The installation of cheap brake pads and/or shoes in your car could be the reason for your noisy brakes. If the surfaces of the brake rotors weren't resized and refaced to grind off the glaze and make them "true," this could be another cause of the squeak. Very often a glue-like material is included with a set of new pads and it's supposed to be installed on the backs or the edges of the pads to reduce or dampen out noise. This material is sometimes tossed out if the mechanic is trying to make time and does a "quicky" job. All replacement brakes on '92 Buicks don't squeak and yours shouldn't either. After a year it's probably too late to have your original mechanic redo the job, so your alternatives are to turn up the radio and stick it out until you need brakes again, or take it to another shop and have the job done right.

Q. I have a 1987 Cadillac Coupe DeVille with 60,000 miles. I have heard that the engines in these cars could become a problem at around this period of their lives. Would this be a wise time to sell the car? Please advise me as to what to do. I would really like to keep it. However, I've always been a Jaguar lover and would love to own one but the stories I hear hold me back. I could not afford one that's newer than a '90 model. What do you think?.
D.J. Springfield, OR

A. I've heard of Cads that have their original 4.1 liter V8 engines getting more than 60,000 miles on them before they come apart - but not very often. If you've had the cylinder heads taken off for any reason in those 60,000 miles, it's likely that the problem was cured (more or less) without you're knowing it. The original problem with them was that the head gaskets would tear on their ends due to heat expansion and contraction of the aluminum block against the iron heads. This dumps coolant into the oil sump and the engines then self-destruct in short order. At 60,000, be ready for a major and very expensive problem. My advice on a Jaguar older than three years or so is to read back issues of the April edition of Consumer's Reports or old J.D. Powers reports. Going from a 4.1 liter Cad into an old Jag recalls the cliche of going from the frying pan into the fire. You'd be money ahead putting an updated 4.5 liter version in your Cad if the original 4.1 goes sour.

Q. In February we purchased a 1990 Infiniti Q45 with only 25,300 documented miles. According to the service records, the original owner had to replace the a/c compressor at 15,000 miles. About two months ago, at 30,000 miles, the air conditioning failed again. Our dealer required many hours to diagnose and resolve the problem. The evaporator and receiver/dryer (so we were informed) were replaced at horrendous cost to us. It seems that a second major failure of the a/c system within 15,000 miles is indicative of a basic defect in this particular vehicle. Although our car is eight years old, it has been driven only 30,000 miles, well within the mileage limit for warranty mileage purposes.
M.S. Shafter, CA

A. The Infiniti warranty tells you what the company will and won't cover and an extension of that is strictly up to the factory guys. If the original job was done under warranty, they usually feel that they paid for it once and if it goes wrong, it's the dealer's problem. Like life, the car business isn't fair, but I'll pass this on to my contacts.

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