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Good Car Care Advice from Tom T - #3

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Tom Torbjornsen, host of "America's Car Show" radio program answers questions from his listeners. (Listen to Tom's radio shows every Saturday and Sunday right here on The Auto Channel)

Dear Tom, The headlight lens on my ‘02 Dodge pickup are so dingy that I have trouble seeing the road at night. What should I use to clean them? Joe from Sidon, MS

Joe, Normal road use causes scratches and chips on the polycarbonate material used to make headlight lenses. These cracks then fill with road grim (oil and vehicular fluids). The fluids and road dirt chemically react with the polycarbonate lenses combined with the UV rays of the sun, causing the lens material to become cloudy or milky, diminishing the light coming from the bulb. Turtle Wax came out with an effective headlight lens cleaner that removes this milky film. The kit consists of fine grit abrasive pads, a super fine rubbing compound, and a cleaning solution. Just ask for Turtle Wax’s Headlight Cleaning Kit at your local auto parts store. Success to you. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a 2001 Ford F250 Super Duty pickup. Lately the fuel gauge has been acting up. It will work fine and then, while sitting at a light or stop sign, the gauge will move to “empty” and the low fuel light will come on. When I start driving again, the gauge returns to normal. Do you think the problem is a bad sending unit? Dave from Tigard, MS

Dave, There is a good possibility that sulfur has built up on the sending unit card windings. Ford issued a technical service bulletin about this problem. The excessive sulfur inhibits the signal sent to the gas gauge. Oil refineries did some homework and found that the use of an industrial grade fuel system cleaner will solve the problem most of the time. Two products that effectively clean out the sulfur are Kinetic Lab’s K100 and Castle Product’s Dragon Power. Simply install a bottle into the fuel tank and drive the vehicle. If this does not work, then you will probably have to replace the fuel-sending unit in the fuel tank. Best to you. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a ’98 Hyundai Sonata. When I try to fill the gas tank at the gas station it trips the shut-off on the pump handle. I have to fill the tank very slowly to prevent this from happening. Any ideas? Peter from Swan River, VA

Peter, When gas tanks are filled they must have a way of venting the displaced air in the tank with the liquid gasoline. Carmakers designed a vent valve in the top of the tank to accomplish this. If the vent valve gets stuck then the air will not be displaced and the fuel nozzle will shut off while filling the tank. Check for a bad vent valve and for a possible restriction in the fill hose/tube down to the tank. You might have to take the vehicle to a shop and get it up on a lift in order to run the proper tests. Good luck. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. When I bought the car, the dealer did not know the code for the keyless entry. Is there some way I can find the code? Andrew from Philadelphia, PA

Andrew, There is a keyless entry module located in the left rear of the vehicle just in front of the spare tire. Once you find the module, there is a 5-digit code inscribed on the front of it. This is the keyless entry code. The other option is to have a Ford dealership pull the code with a scan tool. They will charge for this service. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a 2002 Ford Taurus 4 door V-6. The front end shakes violently (no noise) when the vehicle reaches 50mph. The front tires are quite worn, but it drives very smoothly up to 50mph. Is this a sign of major problems or could it simply be a tire or alignment issue? Jeremy from Hot Springs, FL

Jeremy, The vibration could be due to worn tie rods, loose rack mounts, a bent rim, out of balance tires, or chopped/cupped tires. Should the tires be chopped or cupped, the cause could be bad struts, strut mounts/bearings, ball joints, CV joints or faulty tires. Get it into a shop and have the front end checked for wear and the other items I listed. Success to you. Tom

Dear Tom, I own a ‘99 Ford Ranger. The check engine light is on and the code number is P0176. The truck runs okay for about 25-30 miles and then it loses power. I park the truck overnight and it runs fine in the morning until just over 25 miles, then the same symptoms return. Where do I start? The code check was done at AutoZone. Is this the same procedure that the Ford garage would do? Tim from Salamanca, NY

Tim, First off, the difference between AutoZone and a Ford garage is that AutoZone scans your computer for free and then sells you everything related to the code that was stored in the computer (hoping to solve your problem by the process of elimination). This can be a very costly approach. A Ford garage retrieves the code from the computer, then diagnoses precisely what component/circuit is defective that initially caused the light to come on. That said, it sounds to me like you have a problem that is temperature related. It could be a faulty ignition module, temperature sensor, or something in the performance system that is affected by heat. Don’t go out and buy those parts and install them just because I mentioned them as the possible culprits! Get the truck diagnosed properly. Tom

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‘Til next time…Keep Rollin’

For more articles by Tom Torbjornsen, visit AMERICA’S CAR SHOW web site:

Tom Torbjornsen is an automotive expert of 37 years. An automotive journalist in good standing with the IMPA (International Motor Press Association), Tom is the Repair and Maintenance Editor for several websites.