Dave's Q&A


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Repairs

 

A/C

A/C Smell

I replaced the engine in my 2001 Dodge Intrepid last summer. The car was inactive for months. Ever since that time it has a very bad smell whenever I turn on the air system. Same smell whether its heat or air conditioning. It seems worse in damp weather. Before I take it in to a mechanic is there something simple I can do ?

Hard to tell what kind of smell you are encountering. If it's coming out of the heater assembly it's usually mould or mildew. Run the system. Spray an ammonia based cleaner into the vents at the bottom of the windshield. Shut the system down and wait 10 mins. This should kill any foreign matter that is making it’s home in your HVAC system. If the smell continues, you may have to dismantle the system.

 

No A/C

I own a 1998 Plymouth Neon. I recently found that the air-conditioning system is not operating. I have checked the fuses of the clutch and driving belts they all seem to be operating fine, but when I turn on the air-conditioning no cold air in coming out of the vents it's only warm air it seems that the compressor is not running. I would really appreciate a response with a solution or suggestion to this problem.

Air conditioning systems not functioning are going to be the “hot topic” this summer. If you have checked all the mechanicals than chances are the issue is lack of refrigerant. Have a tech check to see that the unit is capable of holding a charge. Once verified then the unit can be safely recharged.

 

Broken A/C

I haven’t used my air conditioner since last year. During a recent warm spell I switched it on and a loud squealing noise developed under the hood. I shut the a/c  off and everything was quite again. The car runs well with the air conditioner off.  What should I look for?

Even though you may not have used the air conditioner it should have come on when you called for defrost. Most vehicles use the a/c  to dry the air before blowing it onto the windshield. I don’t know the type of vehicle you have , but, I would think  that the compressor has seized. The belt is trying to turn the compressor and is slipping. That’s the noise part. Contact a competent tech to resolve your issue.

 

Broken Heater


I have a problem with my car a 92Toyota Camry V6. (yes, its 14 yrs old and still running!) My heater is broken. When I blast my heater, all I feel is warm air. By the time I get to work ( 35 min from home ), The cold in my car is still present. Is there a cooler or filter for my car heater that I can replace? Is there any way I can fix it or troubleshoot the problem so I don’t have to go far and beyond repairing it for $2000.
Jacqueline

I don't think your problem is with the heater rather the cooling system. Have the temperature of the coolant tested when you are in the no heat condition. More than likely you will find that the thermostat is worn and 
needs to be replaced. The thermostat controls the temperature of the coolant. Usually in cold weather we recommend a 95c. At the same time check the belts, hoses and replace the coolant The cost of replacing a thermostat and coolant, about $200.

 

Broken Blower


I have a 2002 Honda Accord. The HVAC (heater) unit is acting up. The knob on the unit has 4 settings (1,2,3,and 4).When I turn the knob to position 1 and 2 no air or heat comes out. However, position 3 and 4 work well. What do you think is wrong? Is it a costly repair?

Nothing to serious here. The blower is controlled by a resistor. The unit has several current “sinks” that when engaged control the speed of the air coming out of the vent. When one or two of these coils fails or burns out you will lose the ability to control the air flow. Have the tech replace the blower resistor. The unit is located in the air stream to keep it cool so look for it in the air duct near the blower. In Honda’s case this may require removal of the glove box assembly.

 

 

Brakes

Brakes Squeal

I have a question with my brakes. My brakes squeal every time I step on the brakes at slow speed.  They were changed last September and we even brought it back to the mechanic this Monday to have it checked.  He said that the brakes are fine and that is probably due to moisture and that it’s metal to metal.  Please advise.

Several years ago manufactures took the asbestos out of the brake pad material....
The asbestos  lubricated the pads to avoid squeal. The pads you have installed used ceramics along with other materials in lieu of asbestos. Currently these materials are harder than those imbedded with asbestos. The hard material has a tendency to remove metal from the brake rotors. Some of this material remains imbedded in the pad. Metal on metal will squeal. Talk to your mechanic about a softer replacement.

 

Squeaky brakes

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.

 

Bad Brakes & Hot Temps

I have a1997 Honda CRV. Having a problem for some time now. When I try to brake, the vehicle doesn't stop right away. It makes a vibrating sound and the brakes feel funny. For this reason, I hit another vehicle.
Can you tell me what the problem is? I have a second question if I may. The temperature gauge of my car goes high when the car runs slowly or is stopped. But it stays in the middle when running on the highway. Can you give me a suggestion ?
Saikat

You have several problems that are not related. The braking issue should be dealt with immediately. I would suggest there is a failure with the Master Cylinder and the ABS system. Don't put this off, it's serious.....
As far as the engine's running hot . The vehicle is equipped with electronically controlled cooling fans. Have the car's computer scanned for codes and failures and proceed from there.

 

Brake Noise

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?
Ilyse

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.

 

Brake Pad Repair

I have a 2001 Honda Civic which I recently took in for service. I have heard a number of conflicting recommendations/statements about replacing brake pads, and I wanted to get your thoughts. One person said that when replacing brake pads it is preferable to replace the rotors as well rather than just machining them. This is because machining rotors makes them thinner and more prone to warping/overheating. Can you comment on these points? 
Steve

I don't cut rotors because they are case hardened...Machining reduces the thickness of the hardening. This reduces the life of the rotor.....Secondly, Buy the best pad for your needs....there are various types of pads available because of the variation in driver style and vehicle use. You should discuss this with your mechanic. In short ...replace therotors if the are out of spec. not as a mater of course. Make sure you service the braking system at least twice a year...going into winter and coming out. Change brake fluid after 3 yrs use.

 

Bad Brake Job

I recently changed the pads, discs and drums on my 1997 Pontiac Sunfire GT, but not the shoes. Now when I apply the brakes from high speed the car begins to pulse. Do the discs have to go back on the lugs in any particular orientation? What do you think the problem could be? 
Steve

If you feel the vibration in the steering wheel then the brake job is suspect, faulty parts or poor torque values. To check the rear brakes pull lightly on the emergency brake while driving. If you feel a pulse then the out of round is in the rear. I must warn you that modern braking systems are complicated and I personally feel that only qualified personnel should be attempting this type of repair...the consequences are too high.

 

Nagging ABS Light

I read your column and I find your tips very helpful. I am a first time car owner and don't really know much about cars. I bought a 1998Chevrolet Malibu about two years ago. After six months, the ABS light started to go on and off. I had it checked and was told everything is ok, BUT; it’s still there. Every time I see that light it keeps nagging me. Can you give me your insights on what's wrong with this car?
Cecilia

I HATE ABS! Every car I own I disconnect the system. ABS (Antilock Braking System) came to us out of the aircraft industry. It essentially allows the car to steer while under heavy braking. This is done by cycling the brakes when the tires are on the verge of skidding. In the real world they may have the effect of lengthening the distance it takes to stop. So if the ABS doesn't work I wouldn’t be too upset. ABS lights come when the system is not functioning, that’s true, BUT...it may be a low fluid level, burned bulb, or a bad sensor. A scan should diagnose this issue easily.

 

 

Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light (Reset)

I was reading your article about the “check engine light” in the 24 hours magazine, and I wanted to ask you a similar questions. My husband and I own a 1996 Toyota Corolla, and about six months ago, my husband was washing the car, and some soapy water got inside the engine cavity and now the “check engine” light is constantly on. We have checked with our mechanic, because we thought it was something to do with our timing belt, and he said that it shouldn’t be the case…. He even tried disconnecting and re-connecting the battery cable and that didn’t fix it… it did for a bit, and now it is back on again. Do you have any good suggestions???

The check engine light is identifying that an emissions problem exists. In the late 90's manufactures started to introduce the second generation of "on board diagnostics" (OBD 2). Before OBD 2 mechanics were able to re-boot the engine management system by disconnecting the battery. This option is no longer available. Have your tech hook up the appropriate scanner. This will allow them to diagnose the code that is causing the engine light and reset the engine management system (ems). By the way I don't think washing the car caused the problem. The two incidents are probably not related

 

Check Engine Light (Hard Rain)

I have a question for you regarding my 2001 VW Jetta.  About 3 weeks ago on a pouring rainy day I started the car to discover the engine light flashing (the engine light is on some of the time right now as there is an oxygen sensor that is faulty – however the light doesn’t flash) and the car was spluttering and choking.  I immediately shut off the car and contacted our trustworthy mechanic – when it was time to take it in the weather was fine and the car ran fine and didn’t reproduce the problem for our mechanic.  He therefore suggested changing the spark plug cables to see if that helped.  We did this and the car ran fine even on a rainy day (although it wasn’t pouring).  Then yesterday, in Ottawa, it was raining hard and once again the car was spluttering and choking and the engine light flashing when I started it.  Do you have any suggestions?

I have never run into this situation, so being curious I checked with my peers. It turns out you may have a cracked   or defective coil pack. The computer is picking up a misfire code. The light is flashing is due to the continual 
re-setting of the code. Have your tech mist the engine with water, should be easy to diagnose after that. By the way have the Oxygen sensor changed if it is required. With the engine light on the vehicle is running on back-up mode. It can’t perform as designed.

 

Check Engine Light (Gas Cap)

I do hope you might be able to assist me with my car problem.  My engine light turned on about two weeks on my  Mazda 3.  I first called my dealership to see if they had an idea and they said they would have to do a diagnostic check first then determine what it could be, just the test would cost me $130 ! So, I went home read my manual and it stated it could be my gas cap if it wasn't closed properly.  Sure enough, I checked and realized I hadn't closed it tight enough, it was open.  I locked the gas cap tight and waited.  I filled up and waited.  It has now been two weeks and the light has not gone away.  I have no idea what it can be now.

You car's computer system's operating system is called OBD 2.The previous system had the capability of being rebooted by disconnecting power to the computer. OBD 2 requires the use of a scan tool to read and reset the system, hence the charge. Don't blame the dealer, he's just following the correct procedure.  You need the scan tool to diagnose the problem. Emissions issues should be covered under warranty for 5 or 6 years depending.

 

Check Engine Light

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.

 

Check Engine Light (Oxy Sensor)

The “Check Engine Soon” signal light on my 98 Plymouth Neon has been turned on permanently. Replacing: EGR, downstream and upstream oxygen sensors turned off this signal. The service engine light has come back again. I have spent a lot of money for this trouble light, especially for the cost of using the On Board Diagnosis (OBD) system. Should I ignore the light or continue to refix the same problem? 
Lu

The car will not operate properly with the light on...the vehicle is running on backup mode and will not react to the environment. The service “engine soon light” is a reminder that one of the sensors that operate the cars electronic fuel injection system are have gone out of range or have failed completely. You should fix the problem to ensure the longevity of the engine.

 

Hard Rain Engine Light

I have a 1996 Honda Civic automatic. Whenever it rains hard and I start the car the engine light comes on and the D4 light flashes. If driven like this, it seems as though the tranny is having a problem engaging. Please help and let me know what you think the problem is. This is my first car and I don't know what to do.
Brett

Seems your having and electrical issue. The transmission is computer controlled. Sound as if the harness has an abraded and the moisture is shorting out the computer. You will have to have this repaired soon .Eventually the transmission will break down. Have your tech check the area under the intake manifold first for damage. 

 

Check Engine Light EGR (control valve)

I read your article in 24hrs every week. I have a question about mySuzuki Vitara (2000, 2L). The "service engine soon" light came on a few months ago and I got it checked and was told that there is a EGR system flow malfunction (P0400). I had the control cleaned and the system reset but now the light is on again. The control valve cost $400, I was told that I don't need to change it unless I am going for an emission test. Would there be any damage to the vehicle if I continue to drive it or should I change the control immediately?
bad advice....

Any time the "service engine light"is lit the car's computer switches to "back up" mode. In this mode the car will not react to it's environment. It will use more fuel, hard start and finally start to damage other emissions components.
First off; change mechanics and secondly fix the thing 

 

Check Engine Light EGR

I have 1994 Thunderbird. V8. The check engine light is on and says I need an EGR. How long will the car run before I have to replace that? Or could it be something else in connection with that? 
Diana

The service engine light is a warning indicator. The engine management computer has detected a failure or a senor that has gone out of range. The car's injection system will no longer adjust to environment and the vehicle is running on back up. Long term driving in this condition will damage the car. Have the unit scanned a repair the problem. Do not pass go, you might not get there.

 

Temporary Engine Light

The check engine light on my 1999 VW Eurovan engine comes on and stays on for a couple of days without blinking and then disappears.. A mechanic checked it out with his diagnostic instrument without any indication of trouble and said not to worry. However whenever it rains the light is sure to come on. The ignition wires were replaced recently. Any ideas? 
Audry

Because the light is not staying on ( we call that a soft code) we can assume that your problem is temporary.
Sounds as if the computer is picking up a misfire in the engine when is damp. This should be a problem in the ignition but it due to the complexity of today's cars it could be something else entirely. Have your mechanic set his scan tool on “snap-shot mode”, the unit will record any codes the instant they appear. This might entail driving with the equipment attached during your regular day. Once identified follow accepted repair procedure. 

 

 

Fuel

Fuel Restriction

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 fuelfilter. 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.

 

Fuel Pump Fail

I have a 1996 Toyota Avalon every time I start the engine it sounds rough. It sounds as if it’s not getting enough gas to start. I suspect that it could be a fuel pressure relief valve. Any Ideas?
Tony.

Hi Tony: Definitely does sound as if you have a fuel pressure problem... Have a pressure gauge installed and check bleed down overnight and start-up pressure in the morning. You may just have a dirty filter or the beginning of a fuel pump failure. This work should be performed by a competent shop. As a test try to cycle the key without starting the engine 4 times before you crank the engine. This will allow the system to prime. Still a rough start? Suspect the injectors. Report these results to your tech.

 

Fuel Filter

My 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a tendency to stall out and sputter. I shut it off and wait for twenty minutes and then it’s OK. I have 365,000 kms now and drive mostly to the city, shopping and work. My husband “the mechanic” was supposed to fix this ! 
Jennifer, Cambridge

The fact that everything is OK after twenty mins leads me to suspect the fuel system. I would think that the fuel filter is plugged or that the gas tank has water / dirt in it. Foreign material will clog the fuel pump strainer. Don’t blame hubby too much “hockey is back in town”.

 

 

Oil

Oil Foam

I have a 1999 Lincoln Continental with 156,000kms.  The car still runs very well. When I check the engine oil, there is a lot of foam on the dipstick and oil filler cap. At times there is so much foam that I have trouble seeing the level of the oil. What is causing this and does it present any problem that needs correcting?

Foam on any component inside your engine is a sign of moisture. If engine has been consuming coolant, you have a major issue. The cause must be found before you have engine failure. However if the coolant level remains constant, we have an entirely different problem. The moisture is still the culprit only the source is condensation. The foam is a sign of an engine running to cold. Have your tech spend some quality time with your car. Don’t put this off. A reman engine could run as high as $5000. Got your attention yet?

 

Oil Light

My Toyota Corolla 1992 has an oil light problem. For the last two months I’m having this problem. When I start the car my car and all dash lights go off.  After 15 to 20 km the engine oil light comes on when I stop. When I start off again the oil light goes off.  I checked engine oil level always OK, no leakage, can you please tell me what the problem is?

The oil light will come on when there is a drop in oil pressure. In most vehicles this occurs when pressure drops below 8 psi. I would avoid using the vehicle until this situation is remedied. Running with low pressure will eventually lead to engine failure. The tech will measure the actual pressure with a mechanical gauge. If the test results confirm a low oil pressure situation exists consult with your tech as to a solution.  Causes of oil pressure include, worn bearings, worn or clogged oil pumps etc. These are usually signs of high mileage or poorly maintained vehicles.

 

Thicker Oil

I have a quick question. I have a 1997 Hyundai Tiburon with a 2.0 DOHC engine. The vehicle has over 200 thousand kms. I notice that the engine seems to be getting noisy and it burns alot of oil recently. I was told to use a thicker oil until I get the money to fix the problem. Do you think that there is an additive that might help?. 
Regards Bob

Dear Bob; 200,000 kms is about the design life of the engine (5000hrs on average). You have been given good advice. Thicker oil will slow oil consumption and excessive noise. However when the cold weather hits continued use of heavy oil will have detrimental effects on the engine. I have a friend who manufactures the popular additive MOLYSLIP. He says it best "there is no such thing as a mechanic in a can". Most additives are preventative not a cure for wear. Sorry.

 

Oil Pressure Gauge

Just purchased a 1988 Corvette. The oil pressure gauge fluctuates, one minute it could be 200 kpa and ten seconds later it could be 230-300 and that's with the engine at running at 1500 revs at normal operating temperature. I suspect the oil pressure sending unit may be faulty. I have been unable to locate the sending unit. What's your opinion ? 
Jean

I think your right in your diagnoses. It certainly sounds as if the sensor is acting up. You did not mention if the oil light comes on. I suspect it doesn’t. The oil light is the fail safe it usually triggers at 7 to 10 lbs per inch. The unit is located at the rear of the intake manifold near the firewall. Best answer here is to install a test gauge and take a reading.

 

Oil Light Problem

My Toyota Corolla 1992 has an oil light problem. For the last two months I’m having this problem. When I start the car my car and all dash lights go off. After 15 to 20 km the engine oil light comes on when I stop. When I start off again the oil light goes off. I checked engine oil level always it’s OK, no leakage, can you please tell me what the problem is?
Malik

The oil light comes on when there is a drop in oil pressure. In most vehicles this occurs when pressure drops below 8 psi. I would avoid using the vehicle until this situation is remedied. Running with low pressure will eventually lead to engine failure. 

 

Yellow Oil Sludge

I own a1997 Ford Expedition 5.4 Lt, with approx. 155,000 kms. At the last oil change the mechanic found a thick yellowish sludge under the oil cap and down the neck of the filler tube. He said this was caused by condensation due to not enough warm up time. His solution was a rather costly engine flush. What is your opinion?
Neil.

Sludge is cause by moisture in the engine. Film condenses on the inside of the valve cover and oil filler tube...I think the tech is correct in recommending an oil flush... But unfortunately that will only cure the result not the problem. Have the tech install a hotter thermostat in an effort to reduce sludge build up by increasing the operating temperature and reducing moisture production... 

 

 

Oxygen Senor

Oxygen Sensor

I have a 1992 Dodge Spirit.  In reasonably good condition with 186,000 kms. I have had several instances requiring the changing of the Oxygen Sensor. The gentlemen who have been responsible for servicing the vehicle are at a loss to account for the repeated necessity to change the sensor. Can you help?

I personally don't think the oxygen sensor is defective...Oxygen sensor codes can be generated for several reasons. Lean operation conditions are the primary cause of a low Oxygen reading. Look for a plugged fuel filter, plugged  EGR system, defective throttle body, or a simple vacuum leak. Anti-freeze leaking into the combustion process can also damage the sensor...In short have the techs spend more quality time with your car.

 

Oxygen Sensor?

I have a 1992 Dodge Spirit. In reasonably good condition with 186,000 kms. I have had several instances requiring the changing of the Oxygen Sensor. The gentlemen who have been responsible for servicing the vehicle are at a loss to account for the repeated necessity to change the sensor. Can you help? 
Sarah

I personally don't think the oxygen sensor is defective...Oxygen sensor codes can be generated for several reasons. Lean operation conditions are the primary cause of a low Oxygen reading. Look for a plugged fuel filter, plugged EGR system, defective throttle body, or a simple vacuum leak. Anti-freeze leaking into the combustion process can also damage the sensor...In short have the techs spend more quality time with your car.

 

RPM

RPM Problem
I have a 1994 Mercury Topaz. The car has 95000 miles on it and runs great except one thing. After
When you're going and put the car in park the idle revs up to 2,000 to 5,000 rpms and stays there. If you stomp on the gas peddle it just speeds it up faster and stays there. If you shut the car off and start it again it idles normal. What up?
Darrick

Something is jamming in the throttle linkage...it may be as simple as a throttle return spring that has let go or in the case of the Topaz a seizing kick down linkage off the transmission. Ether way this is a safety related items and should be dealt with immediately by a pro. Do not stop, do not pass go..get it looked after. This could be a disaster in the making. 

 

RPM 3 in 5th Gear

I have a 2002 Kia Sportage and want to know if the RPM should be on 3 when I am in 5th gear.
Katin

Unfortunately you have not given me enough information to answer this question...
The rpm (revolutions per minute) are related to the speed of the vehicle.....The higher the speed the higher the rpm. What's important here is that you don't over-rev the engine. Try and keep the rpms in the sweet spot. Usually between 2500 and 3500 rpm. One more point, too low an rpm will also damage the engine. This is called lugging. Lugging is tremendously hard on the bearings and can lead to engine failure. Driving a manual transmission optioned car does require a certain amount of finesse. 

 

Low RPMs

I have a 92 Blazer 4.3 when I’m on the highway & give it a little gas it bronkos or stumbles, like it is getting to much fuel, but if I give it more it goes away. No one seems to know what it is . Also mileage is way down luck if I get 400kms to tank. Any help would be great.
Larry

This type of vehicle uses very low rpm to maintain HWY speeds. Sometimes the engine turns less than 1800 rpm. This is done to improve gas mileage. When the engine is running this slow it lugs...Have the engine serviced .In the old days we called this service a tune-up now in this politically correct society it's referred to as an under-hood service. The strain of this low RPM will cause ignition break down. Concentrate your efforts there. 

 

 

Stalling

Cool Mornings Stall

The Car: 1987 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Fwd 1600cc 4ac (carb.) I have problems starting the car on cool mornings. The engine starts runs rough for 10 seconds and stalls. An attempt to restart it turns over but, does not fire. I can get the car going after repeated attempts and once it is warmed up it seems to restart, idle smoothly and accelerate normally. If you have a wild guess I would appreciate the expertise!! 
vonne,

Sounds as if the mixture is incorrect to facilitate starting. This is old technology. The carburetor will still have a choke assembly. Have the choke adjustment inspected. However; I must warn you that you may find it necessary to overhaul the carburetor unit. Just reminds me how far we have come with computerized cars in such a short time. 

 

Stall and Sputter

My 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a tendency to stall out and sputter. I shut it off and wait for twenty minutes and then it’s OK. I have 365,000 kms now and drive mostly in the city shopping and work. My husband “the mechanic” was supposed to fix this !
Jen, Cambridge

The fact that everything is OK after twenty mins leads me to suspect the fuel system. I would think that the fuel filter is plugged or that the gas tank has water / dirt in it. Foreign material will clog the fuel pump strainer. Don’t blame hubby too much. We actually need more information on this one... 

 

Stalling

One of my friends that read your articles said that you might be able to help me with my car problem. You are my last hope before I get rid of my Honda 1999. For the past three years this car has been stalling when it wants. I have brought it in many times to the dealer and other Mechanics and no one seems to know what it might be. They have checked the starter, Battery, Coil, Distributor. They have also kept it over night to see if the problem would present it self but never does. They tell me wait till it happens more often and they do not want to just replace things that might not be the problem, fair enough. But I cannot continue to drive an unreliable car.
Sharon

Experience leads me to believe your problem to be electrical in nature. First off I would suspect the ignition switch. Honda's of this vintage have serious ignition switch failures. Some models are under recall. Secondly check the operation of the PGMFI relay. Mention these to your mechanic. Don't give up on HONDA it's a great brand. 

 

Temporary Stall

I been having trouble with my ride . I start my car and let it idle. After five minutes it will get a rough idle and stall , try to restart and will not catch. After letting the car cool-down or waiting 20 mins. It will start normally. I do not use this car very often and leave parked in my garage for extended periods of time. Once restarted it will run as normal.
Donn

Thanks for your question. It's really hard to diagnose this without access to the car, However; your situation is very characteristic of a failing sensor. Look for a pick-up coil failure when hot. What you’re looking for is a lack of spark in the no start condition. Best thing here would be to use a scan tool and check for pulse. If you have spark, then focus on the fuel system. Weak pump or plugged lines. Seek the help of a pro. 

 

Stall After Start-up

My 2000 olds, intrigue which has low mileage starts with a touch of the starter when cold. After car warms up it stalls a couple of times before it will remain running, what could be the problem?
Irene

Today's cars are operated by computers. These systems have the ability to self diagnose. What has to happen is a technician will connect a second computer to your car and take readings as the stalling occurs. This will lead to the correct repair. Don't fall into a trap of spending money on repairs unless the car has been scanned. The problem may be as simple as a plugged fuel filter causing low fuel pressure. 

 

Transmission

Sticking Transmission

I have a 2003 Dodge Dakota with a 4.71 V8 and a 5-speep automatic (5-45rff) transmission. Ever since I brought it in 2004 with 11 kilometres I have had the same problem. After the truck sits over night or longer it seems to stick in low gear. It takes about two blocks before it changes up to the next gear. It does not do this all the time. Mostly on colder mornings but it does happen during the summer as well. I have had it back to the dealers but they say they did not find anything wrong. I have lived with this for the last 5 years and the warranty is running out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your question. Two issues here. It’s not normal for the transmission to stick on cold mornings. This usually occurs when the shuttle valves in the shifter body stick. You could try a transmission conditioner designed to prevent sticky valves. Issue number two. Contact your dealer’s zone department and explain your problem. Keep notes and get as much documentation together as possible. This should ensure that you have a claim after the warranty has expired.
Don’t expect that Chrysler will step up years after the warranty has expired. However, good paperwork will go a long way in supporting your claim.

Last week we had a letter from a chap with a shifting problem when his Dakota was cold. We received a lot of help from our readers on this one. I have included one such reply.

To the owner of this vehicle (Dakota), I suggest he drop off the vehicle the night before, and arrange to be at the shop the next morning to go for a test run with the dealer's rep.  Hands on experience has a lot more weight than an owners opinion. I had a problem with my truck heater that the shop didn't agree with.  
I finally took it to the dealer one cold January morning, and told the rep to come out and feel how much heat (nil) was coming in the cab after running for half an hour. He agreed, and replaced the heater.  Seems they had taken it into the shop, let the truck warm up, and then tested the heater with warm shop air, and declared all was OK ! I hope this strategy can work for your reader.

 

Hard Rain Transmission

I have a 1996 Honda Civic automatic. Whenever it rains hard and I start the car the engine light comes on and the D4 light flashes. If driven like this, it seems as though the tranny is having a problem engaging.  Please help and let me know what you think the problem is. This is my first car and I don't know what to do.

Seems your having and electrical issue. The transmission is computer controlled. It appears as if the harness operating the transmission has an abraded and the moisture is shorting out the computer. You will have to scan the vehicle’s computer and look for any codes that might have been set. Don’t hesitate, have this repaired soon .Eventually the transmission will break down. Have your tech check the area under the intake manifold for damage, the transmission harness runs under the manifold. Possibility exists that the clips holding the harness in place have failed.

 

Transmission “Limp Mode”

I am regularly reading your tips in 24Hours. I have 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, 120,000 km. Recently I had the transmission serviced. (Transmission Oil, Filter Change and Flush) After doing the service the van has started giving me problems. Now on Highway it can't gain speed over 100 kph and it revs at 5000rpm. Can you give any ideas? 
Patel
The transmission is running in “limp mode”. The computer will engage “limp mode” when one of the sensors or switches in the unit are malfunctioning. I doubt very much that the service has caused your transmission to fail. These units are computer operated and extremely complicated. 120,000 kms relates to a lot of wear and the unit may actually be worn out. However it may not be terminal. The problem many actually be in the module that controls shifting. This is commonly referred to as a “solenoid pack”. Have your mechanic scan the transmission for codes and then follow standard repair procedure.

 

Dirty Transmission

I have a 1994 ford f-150 pickup truck with just under 100,000 km's... the automatic transmission sounds like a washboard when it shifts into the gear sequence... this transmission is equipped with overdrive and also has a button on the end of the shifter that when pushed enables the transmission to enter regular drive for hauling trailers etc. any suggestions ???

Transmissions are designed to operate quietly. The noise that you are describing sounds as if the gears are not meshing or a clutch is not engaging fast enough. This usually is a sign of low internal pressure. Worn parts can cause low pressure, as can a dirty transmission filter....Contact a competent transmission shop and have the unit diagnosed. They will have to drop the oil pan to inspect the transmission properly....

 

Slipping Transmission

I have 2000 Dodge Caravan and for the last 2 months problems with the automatic transmission. I noticed that in the morning when the car is cold and I put the gear to D, nothing happens. The car will not move, it takes some time to get going. Later during the day when the car is warm, there is no problem at all. Will I have to rebuild the transmission? Are those automatic transmission treatments, that you can buy any good? 
Luzny.

Unfortunately you are correct in your diagnosis. Shifter hesitation is a by-product of low internal pressure usually this translates to worn parts. According to Steve Joyce of Molyslip "there is no such thing as a mechanic in a can". Most additives are preventives, not curatives. Perform a full transmission service, add 2 tubes Molyslip ATS. This should help if the shuttle valves are sticking. Transmission overhauls of this nature are costly. 

 

Vibrations/Alignment

Alignment

I'm not really a big car guy. I know some of the basics. I have a question about my 2007 Chevy Cobalt! During the last big winter storm I slid and hit a curb on the front left wheel and at the time I didn't have money to get a wheel alignment. I waited for a couple of weeks and I got it done at a shop for $50 but the car still feels like it’s not aligned properly. When I'm driving and I let the wheel go it still pulls to the left a little, could it be that they didn't do a good job?

Knowing the basics is probably more than the shop that aligned your car. The car is still out of alignment, plus it may also be suffering a bent wheel. Go back and have the shop check the wheel and recheck their work. Good possibility that lower control arm is damaged. Bad alignment will damage your tires. One more thing, make sure they are doing a four- wheel alignment....

 

Bad Vibrations

When I stop at a red light with the transmission in drive and my foot on the brake, the car vibrates and shakes. There are times when the engine stalls. I recently had a "tune-up" to see if it would help. The car does run better but it did not help with this problem mentioned above. There are times when it vibrates only slightly but most of the time, it vibrates quite a bit, enough to see the hood shaking. Do you know what the problem is and what is causing it?

It sounds as if the engine is not running on all cylinders. The problem could be as simple as a plug that is fouled or more serious such as a sticking valve or plugged injector. Have a dynamic compression test performed. This test cuts out individual cylinders and measures the load they are sharing. The results will lead you to the next step.

 

Vibrations

I drive a Ford Taurus. Great car, although recently it has developed a vibration when I’m on the highway. I’m not good with cars, any ideas.

Vibrations at highway speeds are usually caused by parts being out of balance. I would suggest the issue is the tires or wheels that needing balancing. An easy test, if the vibration is in the front, you will feel in the steering wheel. In the seat and floor it’s the back wheels. Have a tech check your car soon. The issue could also be a loose wheel.  Vibrations put a lot of strain on front components and could be costly if not attended to.

 

Car Vibration

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.

 

Alignment Rattle

I have an olds cutlass ciera 89 a few months ago I started feeling a rattling in my steering. I had the car test driven and was told that my alignment was bad and that I needed to change the bottom bearings. I had the alignment and bearings done. I still have a shimmy and now the tires started wearing. Could alignment be causing the shimmy ? 
Dorothy

There is a possibility here that the original problem was never resolved... Sounds as if the tires are the failing....Bad tires can cause premature wear in front end components. Even though the damage has been repaired, have the tires wheels inspected...If possible rotate them to the back and se if the vehicle performs better. If it does……replace the tires

 

Alignment Issues

I just bought a used car 2002 Toyota Corolla. It always moves to right when drive on the road. It is still a little bit after the tire was adjusted (aligned). What is the problem? Another issue for this car, this brand car supposes to be save gas, but my car consumed over 11 liters gas per 100 KM in city drive. What is the problem? I bought this car from dealer. If there are problems, what can I do for that?
Thanks for your help.
Irene

Pulling is usually a sign that the alignment is off...Have the dealership perform a four-wheel alignment. That means all four wheels will be aligned. In some instances the back wheels will steer the vehicle....After this done and the problem persist....have the tires rotated...there is a possibility that the tires are not square and pulling off to one side....this is referred to as radial run-out. Fuel mileage in the winter..."forgetaboutit".the cold weather plays havoc with fuel mileage... 

 

Stop & Vibrate

When I stop at a red light with the transmission in drive and my foot on the brake, the car vibrates and shakes. There are times when the engine stalls. I recently had a "tune-up" to see if it would help. The car does run better but it did not help with this problem mentioned above. There are times when it vibrates only slightly but most of the time, it vibrates quite a bit, enough to see the hood shaking. Do you know what the problem is and what is causing it?
Steve

It sounds as if the engine is not running on all cylinders. The problem could be as simple as a plug that is fouled or more serious such as a sticking valve. Have a dynamic compression test performed. This test cuts out individual cylinders and measures the load they are sharing. The results will lead you to the next step.

 

ETC

DIY Saftey

“Dave Redinger is an idiot!”  “If I can’t get parts here I’ll go to the states”.  “The main issues with your statement, the fact that a lot of garages will take advantage of the customers, because they can”.

Recently I wrote about not selling safety related parts over the counter. I received a lot of response. The point of the column was that today’s cars are too complicated to be serviced by the do it yourself “mechanic”. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST DIY. However, safety items, leave it to experts. Cars have gone past the DIY stage in many areas. Anti lock, yaw control, traction control... don't tell me a DIY can service those systems properly... I repeat, we should look at restricting the sale of SAFETY RELATED items to UNLICENCED people. Period.

 

Speedometer

I have a 2005 Chevy Cavalier. Lately the speedo is acting up. The needle hangs at 60 kph. When I turn the key off and on, the needle will drop each time. Any ideas?

This vehicle’s speedometer assembly is computer operated. Have the tech scan the car’s onboard computer for any anomalies. If everything checks out, you’re looking at replacing the speedo head. If you are installing a used unit you should note the mileage differential on the work order. These units can also have the mileage reset. Might be the better route to take.

 

Repair or Scrap

Need your advice. I just found out that my car 96 Chevy Lumina needs a transmission repair. The shop says it could cost up to 2000 dollars. The car is in good condition and has 120,000 kms . Should I fix it? Help.

I’m often asked this question at the service counter. How much money should I invest in my ride before it’s time to walk away?  When we’re asked this question, we recommend that you audit the vehicle. Have the tech go through the car and estimate the value of any major repairs. Once you know what you actually own make your decision. It’s my opinion that if the total repairs come to less than 2500 dollars fix the thing. To put things into perspective, some of the sound systems available on new cars today cost more than that. Plus,  I would think twice about the years of car payments I’m committing to.

 

Dormant Car

I have a 1997 Honda Prelude that has been sitting in my garage for just over a year, that I have not driven. I would like to start using it again.

Not that hard to restart a dormant car…Check all fluids are up. If the battery is dead charge it Usually the battery will needed to be replaced as they tend to fail if left discharged for long periods of time. If you can add some fresh fuel.  Pull the park plug leads so that you can crank the engine and build up oil pressure. After 15 secs.  of cranking, plug in the leads, then go for it. The engine should start reasonably quickly. Once running, listen for any unusual noises allowing the car to warm. Run the engine for about 15 mins looking for leaks or belt failures etc. Visually inspect the tires and brakes. Drive off slowly tapping the brakes as you move along. Once you are satisfied things are back to normal take the car to a shop and have the brakes cleaned, the oil change and the car inspected.

 

Aged Cadillac

Hi Dave I have a question or perhaps looking for a little reassurance, I bought a 1987 Cadillac Deville a couple of years ago from the auction as the body was very straight and clean as well it is the California addition I think they call it, has an imitation convertible roof, Immaculate interior. It was from Arizona, had 298k on it paid $1300.00 never expected much from it but am surprised already as I am now at 352k and runs very well, mechanics' say the engine is still sound--I don't drive it hard and keep the oil changed how many miles could I reasonably expect to get out of it ?

Good news is as this car ages it become more valuable. A car can run indefinitely as long as the body structure is solid. The main issue with running older vehicles is that the rubber and plastic components age. With age they harden causing cracking and making servicing difficult. Have your mechanic inspect the brake lines for rust and cracking. Pay attention to hoses, belts, etc. Purchase a silicone treatment and service the door and weather strip seals to keep them pliable. Keep the upholstery clean and continue those frequent oil changes.....by the way if you’re concerned about mileage contact any Airport limo driver. Most of those here in Toronto have close to a million kms. In fact I have two clients who have passed a million kms in Honda Civics. Personally I think we could easily get 20 years out of our cars without much effort. How green is that? Not have to replace your car every 5-6 years.

 

Blinking Headlights

Dave, Help! I drive a Mercury  Villager van. The headlights blink as I ‘m driving along. People thing I’m trying to get their attention. When I actually turn my headlights on, the blinking stops.  I’m on a pension and fearful of a large repair bill. Could you give me some advice?

These vehicles are equipped with a day time running system (DRL). The system was installed as a response to legislation that required vehicles to have their headlights turned on during the daytime. The problem manufactures faced was that headlights draw a lot of current, plus the bulbs would burn out prematurely with constant use. So the DRL system allows the lights to run at lower voltages during the day. To reduce current draw some vehicle are selective in which lights are turned on. All this stuff is controlled by a mini computer call the DRL MODUAL. The one on your vehicle  seems to have failed. Cost of a DRL MODUAL about a hundred bucks. Easy fix.

 

Head gasket crack

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.

 

Noisy tappets

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.

 

Wipers Failing

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.

 

Ignition System

Whenever it is raining or humid my '90 Toyota Camry STALLS at every stop for the first 15 minutes of driving. After those initial 15 minutes or so, the car drives normally. Can you offer me any suggestions as to what may be wrong with the car? Many thanks, Carol

This is not an uncommon problem...
You are experiencing a failure in the high tension ignition system. When the system is damp the high voltage shorts out. Confer with a good mechanic. Have the vehicle scanned. Probably needs a major tune up, excuse me "under hood service" to be politically correct.

 

Start and Stop

Lately when I go to drive my car it starts, then about five minutes later it stops. All electricity is cut off. I turn the ignition off and wait about 30 seconds and all the electricity comes back on. It does this all the time so I keep doing the same thing as I drive, can you HELP? 
Wes

This type of repair is almost impossible to diagnose without access to the car. If were to hazard a guess I would look into the ignition switch ...Sounds as if it's worn and over heating, this would cause the contacts to loose their continuity. Have the vehicle scanned by a competent technician. Be patient electrical problems are hard to find.

 

Rear Differential Noise

I have a Chevy Suburban 1981. I had a lot of Transmission work done last year. What would cause the rear end (differential) to give a bang every time it’s put in reverse? Is it the transmission again? What should I expect to fix? 
Mike

The problem may have nothing to do with transmission repairs. All differentials have a certain amount of slack... this is referred to as backlash. As the unit ages the backlash increases and may "klunk" when changing direction. Check if the idle is set to high, causing torque levels to be higher than normal. This usually occurs on cold start up when idle is high ...Have a good tech road test the truck chances are nothing is wrong...

 

Tappet Rattle

I have bought a Ford Escort , it has been standing for the last 12 months and at present it is still standing. The problem is that when it starts there is a tappet rattle. It sounds more like it’s coming from the injectors. Any ideas?
Mark

This a tough question to answer without listening to the car. A properly running engine; once it has reached operating temperature, runs smoothly and silently. 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. Sorry…..

 

Computer Problems

I have a 1988 Corvette that has been a problem since I got. I have taken it to several places to get help. So far, no one has fixed this car. The car starts and runs but the check engine light comes on. It idles up and down on its own. I have replaced the TPS (that is the code that came up) the IAC (what the dealer told me was causing the problem). Right now I am getting ready to replace the computer. I need help! Kevin

The problem here is no one has spent quality time with the car. Have the car scanned and diagnosed pay attention to the injection system. Strong possibility of dirt in the system or even faulty injectors. The car is mainly fiberglass and electric grounding is always an issue. In this high tech world correct diagnosis is 80 percent of the repair. Many shops are now surcharging for diagnosis. 

 

Broken Key Lock

During winter month, when the temperature dips below -5 degrees Celsius, I am unable to remove the ignition key if the car is run for a short distances ( for less than 10 minutes).However, if the car is run for more than 15 minutes or so, the key comes off easily. This problem has puzzled me and my mechanic for some time . He is unable to explain why the key comes off only after the engine warms up sufficiently. Could you please explain how this problem can be resolved?
Arul 

Really an interesting problem...I had to do some research on this one. The key lock is connected by interlock to the transmission. The consensus is that the interlock is not adjusted properly or the shifter is sticking when cold. Have the vehicle tested by a competent mechanic. This is a safety item as the tranny may not actually be engaging the park position. This may compromise parking the vehicle if you don’t use the emergency brake.

 

Black Exhaust

I got an exhaust question for you. The exhaust pipe of my 1995 Jetta is covered in black soot. Is this a problem? I heard it could be due to my car burning too much oil (which recently seems to be the case. I have to top up my oil quite a bit after a long drive). Is this a cause for the black exhaust?
Jill

Cars should not emit smoke. Exhaust gases should be invisible. Black smoke is not a sign of oil burning, oil burns blue. Black smoke is a sign of an engine that has an injection problem. This condition referred to as running rich will cause an increase in oil consumption. This type of repair is complicated, but; definitely necessary. 

 

High Idle

I have a 1989 Dodge 2000 GTX with a 2.0L SOHC engine (190,000 Kms). When the engine is started up cold, it goes into high idle for about 30 seconds then the idle will drop down to about 700 rpm for 5 to 10 seconds and then go back into high idle again. It does this several times until the engine warms up and then it runs fine. Could it be EGR valve be my problem? Any assistance would be appreciated.
Harold

I'm assuming that this vehicle is fuel injected...you will have to have the computer scanned....Pay attention to the coolant temperature on warm up. Sounds as if the car is not heating up fast enough and computer can't exit the warm up curve. Experience suggests the vehicle needs a cooling system inspection. Strong possibility a new thermostat is required.

 

Wiper Problems

My problem is that my wipers suddenly stopped working They only work when the washer is depressed (and totally normal too) but not on Hi, Lo, or intermittent. I had a local Pontiac dealer to look at. He said "one of two causes" yet he would replace both: the wiper assembly cover (board) and "the switch". The switch is the expensive item since it is the entire multifunction lever switch. Total cost $400 including labour .
I need wipers !! What do I do? Ed

I had the same problem with my Rivera (97). I change the electronic control board ...However the problem turned out to be the wiper motor itself.....My advice would be to get a second opinion.....

 

Rattle and Gas Odor

I have a 2002 Kia Sportage EX 4x4, just purchased. I still have the Kia warranty till July, 2007 or 100,000 km; I also have a 30-day dealer's warranty. My questions: 1) what would cause a high-pitched rattle both when the car is idling and moving 2) what would cause a strong gas odor in the car? The vehicle has 90,300 km on it. Thank you in advance.
Fredrica

When you are experiencing a rattle something is loose. You stated it happens when your idling so I would assume it's not in the driveline. Check the exhaust system. Muffler baffles and damaged catalytic converters rattle. Gas smells are an indication of a gas leak. Have the fuel system inspected, pay attention to the venting system. Bear in mind that the body of this car is square. Smells that originate in the rear will be sucked into the cabin as the vehicles passes through the air. 

 

Cold Start-up

I have a 1990 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Royal that starts great in the warmer months but during the winter months doesn't. If I don't plug in the block heater the vehicle seems to flood. Basically what I do to start the engine is hold the ignition on until the engine starts. This sometimes takes up to a minute. Any suggestions? 

When the temperature dips a car's battery reserves are low. Sometimes less than 50% of it's available power. Under these conditions the ignition system must be in perfect condition. These vehicles had a reputation for weak ignition coils. Have the ignition system tested by a qualified tech. Never crank an engine for more than 10 seconds at a time. The starter may over heat and fail. 

 

Rear Window Wiper

I have a 2000 Chevrolet Venture Van V6. Three days ago I turned on the rear wiper and I noticed that it was turning very slow and then suddenly it stopped. Since then it is not working anymore. What can I do? Is the motor gone? What seems to be the problem?
Vilma

The rear wiper shaft is seizing....Probably can still save it by lubrication the shaft and allowing it to run for at least an hour...to avoid this in the future make sure you service the unit and use more often...use it or lose it...By the way spring is a good time to lubricate all the locks, doors, gas door, etc. anything that moves.

 

Broken Rocker

I own a 1998 Chrysler Intrepid but according to a mechanic it has a broken rocker arm and has some lower end noise that cannot be identified. The mechanic also says that the 2.7 liter engines all seem to have big problems at high kilometers. Mine has about 174000 kms. The rest of the car is in really good condition, just a couple of tiny rust spots. I asked about fixing it and was told that a rebuild would cost $4000.00, $2500 for the used engine plus labour and tax. What do I do? What should I ask for this car as is?
Alan 

I'm sorry to inform you but your tech is “right on the money”...Even as salvage the unit does not have much value due to high mileage...I think I would be asking $500. Best advice here would be to appraise the vehicle’s mechanical condition. If you decide to restore the car I would put in the new engine. While you’re in there have he transmission serviced as well. The money spent is still less than the cost of a new vehicle. 

 

Squeaky Clutch

I enjoy your column in 24 hours and the expertise you are able to give people. I'm hoping you can provide me with some insight into my car issue. I have a 1999 Acura 1.6 EL, 5-speed manual transmission with an extended warranty that will expire in April. It's a great car and I have no complaints. Two years ago, whenever I engaged my clutch, it began to squeak, especially during warmer weather. At that time, the dealership replaced the release bearings under warranty and that seemed to fix the squeak. Over the past year, my squeaky clutch has returned on occasion (again, mainly in the warmer weather). The dealership lubed the clutch and said the squeak would come back in a couple of months because it's the master cylinder/slave valve, which is a big job to fix but it's covered under the warranty. I'd like to know if this is a sign of a bigger problem to come, and if so, why don't they just fix it now? I'd appreciate any advice you can give me since I'm a female who is not mechanically inclined!
Take care.

By depressing the clutch, the driver engages the throw out (release) bearing. This unit is mounted on the centre shaft of the transmission. Under normal driving conditions the unit last the life of the clutch assembly. However; in areas that are dusty or in our case salty the lubricant that is used breaks down. In this case, the repair faculty should lube the assembly with HIGH TEMPERATURE grease. These products are supplied by HONDA (p/n08798-9002) or aftermarket by companies such as MOLYSLIP. Keep your paper work for if you require future repairs. 

 

Damp Weather

I have a `97 Safari. The problem is a no start condition when the vehicle is exposed to damp weather. Replaced to date - plugs, cap, rotor, plug wires, air filter, fuel filter, temp sending unit for the ECU, crank sensor. The fuel injectors have been flushed as well. The engine will almost start on one cyl. or two but if it does not catch then its all over until... you plug in the block heater. This problem has been ongoing for about a year and no one seems to be able to diagnose.
Paul 

A classic high tension ignition issue. I notice you have not mentioned the coil in the parts list. Find a trigger bottle and fill it with water. Mist the engine while it is idling. This will recreate a damp weather condition and will help in the diagnostic. If your mechanic has a Vantage Scan tool he can isolate which cylinders are acting up. If you are attempting this repair by yourself, I think you've exhausted most of your options without using serious diagnostic equipment. 

 

Electrical Issues

I was reading your column on the ABS (antilock brake systems). My friend has a 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager. Her ABS light is on. Of more concern is that there are instances when the whole dashboard will lose functionality. She can still drive, we just don't know how fast, how much gas is left, as well, all the dashboard lights and power door locks don't work either. When the power returns, the check engine service light is lit.

Electrical issues are extremely hard to advise on without access to the vehicle. However; the fact that the vehicle is still running leads me to believe that you may be suffering an ignition switch failure. The switch controls several functions. Starting, running and operating the accessories. Possibly one of these functions (accessories) has failed. The switch will require replacement if it has failed. 

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