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Dave Redinger - The Neighborhood Mechanic

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Dave is a licensed auto mechanic with over 40 years in the trade. For the past 24 years h has operated Dr. H. Honda Specialists in Etobcoke(Toronto). Dave the neighborhood mechanic can be heard answering his neighbors car questions on AM740 radio each Saturday at 9 AM. Some of these conversations will also be published weekly here on The Auto Channel

July 14, 2005

Hi Dave: I started looking at new cars. I notice that there is a little or no price difference between standard and automatic transmission. What’s your opinion between the two choices…..Sean, Cambridge

Interesting question…Personally after 40 years behind the wheel I have grown to hate a manual transmission. I should add that I do most of my driving in the big smoke and the stop and go traffic is a bear. Before the development of the modern computerized transmissions the manual gear box offered more speeds, better fuel economy and better performance. None of that is true anymore. So what’s the bottom line? If you’re into performance and enjoy rowing your way down the highway go for the stick, in time you too will grow to hate it.

Hello Dave: I have a 1988 Lebaron GTS with a 2.5L engine. While replacing the head gasket, I noticed very small cracks in the head between the valves (in the combustion chamber). Does anyone know if there are any tolerances with crack of this type (ie: can small cracks of this type be ignored, or does the head have to be replaced). Thanks. Name withheld

As cars are becoming more and more complicated it’s rare to get his type of question. However due to the age of the vehicle it may not warrant a professional repair. A cylinder head will not operate properly with cracks in the combustion chamber. These cracks occurred due to serious overheating of the engine. Possibly a blown head gasket causing a low coolant level. The head will have to be replaced. Be sure to replace all the cylinder head bolts when reassembling the engine. Chrysler head bolts are torque to yield. Maybe it’s time for a new ride.

Hello Dr. Dave: I have a 1996 Honda Accord that is having a vibration problem. It is much worse when you are braking hard. It gets better as you slow down. I have put new tires on the front recently, but that did not affect the problem. The car as 140kms. I have never changed out the rotors or the CV joints. I think it could be a warped rotor, a bad CV joint or a tie rod end going. What do you think? Name withheld

I hope your not guessing and throwing parts at this problem. Have the car checked by a technician. I can tell you that it’s not the constant velocity joints (CV). When worn they exhibit loud clicking noises while turning or vibration on hard acceleration. I believe your problem is in the brake rotors which have warped and require replacement. A competent mechanic can easily diagnose this problem and advise you. These parts are inexpensive so by the best you can afford.

Hey Dave: I have a 93 Chrysler Minivan. When I drive on the highway the service engine soon light comes on. I have to pull over and turn the engine off. When the car restarts the light goes off and stays off the rest off the day. Can you help me? Suzan, Hamilton

The van is talking to you and you’re not listening. Most of the vehicles on the road today are operated by computers. The computer receives data from various sensors place throughout the vehicle. When the system is malfunctioning or there is missing data the computer will revert to a preprogrammed back up mode (open loop). At the same time the system activates the warning light on the dash. Restarting the car has the same effect as rebooting your home computer. Have you car scanned by a technician. Driving with the light on is detrimental to the engine’s performance.

Hello Dave: I have a 2000 Honda Civic with approximately 90,000 kilometers. When I drive slowly I hear a squealing noise which I think is coming from the front wheels. Lately I notice that when I apply the brakes the noise goes away. Do I need new brakes or is it just something simple? Paula, Oakville

Sounds as if you have a brake pad that’s dragging. The majority of the vehicles on the road today have some form disc brake design. Disc brakes have several advantages one of which is the ability to absorb a lot of hard use. However; this design requires regular maintenance. Have your mechanic inspect the brakes and advise you. As this is a safety item don’t put off this repair. Brakes should be inspected and serviced every 6 months, usually before and after the winter season.

Hi; I have bought a ford escort and it has been standing for the last 12 months and at present it is still standing. The problem is that when it start there is a tappet rattle. It sounds more like it’s coming from the injectors. Any ideas? Name withheld

This a tough question to answer without more information. A properly running engine runs smoothly and silently once it has reached operating temperature. Sounds as if you may have a more serious problem than just noisy tappets. Most Ford engines adjust the valve lash hydraulically. Valve lash is directly affected by oil pressure. If the oil pressure is low noisy tappets are one of the warning signs. Have the engine inspected by a professional. Some noises can be the precursor to costly engine failure.

Hello Dave:I drive a 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier. When I drive along the highway about 100 kpm the car will start to slow down by itself. It continues to slow so I have to pull off the side of the road and shut it off. I wait 2 mins and restart the engine. Everything seems fine until I reach highway speeds and then it starts to slow again. What on earth is wrong? Name withheld

The symptoms you describe are a classic case of fuel restriction. More than likely the problem is a plugged fuel filter. Modern cars although complicated are extremely reliable. However; they do require service. Don’t be surprised when the mechanic recommends a full “under hood service”. Sounds as if this Chevy has passed it’s due date.

Hello Dave: I have a 1997 Buick Riviera with 225,000 kms. When I use the wipers they start to slow down and struggle after 10 mins. I shut them off and wait 2-3mins. When I retry the wipers they seem to work normally. Do you think it could be the switch? Dave, Toronto

The wiper motor is starting to fail. As this type of motor wears the brushes loose the ability to conduct electricity. They start to overheat causing the tensioning springs to soften, stalling the motor. After the motor cools the process will start all over again. Interesting note: some of today’s cars have up to 15 electrical motors operating different systems in the vehicle. Second interesting note: early wiper systems were operated by vacuum not electricity. The original wiper was invented by a woman Mary Anderson, in 1905.

Dave Redinger will answer questions from viewers each week, to ask you can e-mail dave at stikky@ca, og go to

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