Wilkinson Auto Repair, Holly Michigan
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102   Previously Answered Questions:  


QuestionFront End Rumbling Growling:  I have a 2002 Dodge Dakota 4X4. When driving straight or turning right I hear a rumbling / growling noise. The noise goes away when turning left. It sounds like it is coming from the front end and more on the right side, I think. What could this be?
AnswerThis is most likely a bad wheel bearing causing this noise. You will need to jack up the front wheels and check for any movement in the wheel by trying to move it in at the top and out at the bottom going back and forth but sometimes we have to run the vehicle on the hoist and listen with a stethoscope to pinpoint the exact cause when there is no obvious play in the wheel bearing. They can be tricky as far as sounding like a right side when it is actually the left, or vise versa. That is why we double check them with the stethoscope.
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QuestionPump Shuts Off Filling Gas:  2002 Buick Century Custom. Had filler neck to gas tank replaced, now the gas nozzle shuts down when fueling.
AnswerThis type of problem usually occurs when the evaporative vent solenoid is not functioning properly. It will not allow the air to vent when filling the tank and if your filler neck was rusted out prior to replacement the excess air may have been venting through the rust hole and masking the vent problem. There are two other things that may be the cause such as a rollover check valve in the tank or possibly the new filler neck had a plastic cap in one end and was missed during installation. I strongly suspect the evaporative vent problem being the cause though and this would take some knowledge of wiring diagrams and hose diagrams to properly diagnose. I would recommend finding a reputable repair facility to diagnose this one for you.
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QuestionNo Oil Pressure Cold:  2004 Chevy 2500HD, 6.0 gas motor. No oil pressure when cold. After it warms up oil pressure is around 40, then every so often I here a nasty loud valve tap. Truck has 356,000 miles. Any ideas? Thanks.
AnswerThis could be caused by many different things. The first step we take in this situation is to take the oil filter off and cut it open then take the folded fabric out and hold it up in good lighting to see if there are any signs of metal shavings or glitter in it. If so than you will need to replace or rebuild the engine. If not then I would do an oil change on it and a manual oil pressure test to see if it still shows low oil pressure. If it is still low then you will need to remove the oil pan to check the rod and main bearings for clearance with a plastigauge. If the bearings are within spec take the timing cover off and the oil pump apart and look at the oil pressure relief valve to make sure the spring is not broken and that the valve at the end of the spring has smooth travel. Also check the oil pick up screen for being clogged. If all of this is ok I would try a new oil pump and screen to see if this cures your problem. There are a few other not so common problems that it could be. Spun cam bearing, clogged oil passage, but you would need to disassemble the engine to check this and with so many miles it would not make sense to not just replace it at that point.
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QuestionRear Defrost:  The de-icer on the rear window does not work on my 2006 Ford Taurus. The fuse is not blown. I also replaced the fuse relay to see if that had gone bad, but that was not the issue either. Suggestions?
AnswerI would check the contacts at the rear window. It is very common for the solder to overheat and the small tab connecting the wire will fall off. If this is the case there is a repair kit available at most parts stores that you can use to fix this. Other than that you would need to have a test light or volt meter and a wiring diagram to trace down the root cause.
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QuestionCoil / Spark / Wires:  I have a 2005 Dodge Neon SRT4 commemorative edition number 111 / 200. My check engine light came on recently so I had my mechanic check it, said the ignition coil / coil 2 or spark 2 so I replaced my ignition coil twice with 2 brands, my spark plugs twice, and my wires once and it fixes it for a few hours and then the check engine light comes back on. When this happens my car loses like half its power and will get it back but it is a constant battle with it especially on the highway. Please help! What could this be?
AnswerYou need to check the connector where the coil plugs in. It is possible that it loses contact intermittently or has opened up like a wall plug in your house that is old and does not have a tight fit any longer. When this happens it will cause this type of issue and is an easy fix. If that is not it you may have a bad power-train control module or wire from it to the coil shorting out or opening up somewhere. This type of problem is better diagnosed at a repair shop with specialty tools that will aid in an accurate diagnosis.

CUSTOMER REPLY - Thanks so much for the info Chris! You were exactly right, the power train control module had a messed up wire. Thanks again, you are a life saver!
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QuestionTire Grinding Noise?:  I recently bought a used Nissan Altima 2005. It runs great but I hear a grinding noise coming from the passenger rear side. I have asked another repair shop to inspect and they said back tires are sloppy. When I asked the meaning of that they showed me that one side of the tire has more wear than the other side and is not even. I am not a mechanic but I do not understand how much this is giving the noise. There is no bump or alignment problems while driving. The noise comes only when I drive and it increases when I increase the speed and it stops when I stop. I am sure it is not from my engine. Mechanics are telling me to replace the tires before investing $500 to replace all 4 tires (front 2 tires are not that good too). I want to double check with you to get your opinion.
AnswerI suspect that you may have a bad wheel bearing. The way to check this is to jack the suspected wheel up and rotate the tire. Listen for any unusual noise. Grab the tire at top and bottom then try to move it in and out. If there is any movement then you most likely have a bad wheel bearing. If none of this shows any problems try rotating the tires to see if the noise moves with the tire. If so then suspect that the tires are the problem.
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QuestionHigh RPM Shift:  I have a 1984 C10 1/2 ton 2wd pickup with the 350 tranny. It wont shift unless above 2500 rpm, closer to 3000. It normally shifts by 2000 rpm at about 15 mph but now wont shift until 35 mph which is a little much. Also if I go wide open throttle it acts as if I was in neutral until I use little gas then it will accelerate again. It down shifts perfect but shifting up it has to be high rpm and when it does shift it is a smooth shift.
AnswerThe first thing that you need to look at is the vacuum modulator on the rear of the transmission. It has a vacuum hose going to it and when you pull the hose off make sure it does not have any transmission oil in it and also make sure that it is getting vacuum when the engine is running. Next thing to check is the governor valve which is located on the side of the transmission under a small round metal cover. You will need to take the cover off then the governor will pull out. Next hold it up and clean it with brake cleaner and shop air while moving the small metal wings on the side in and out. Also make sure the valve in the center moves freely while you are doing this.
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QuestionRebuilt / Salvage Titles:  I am looking at a 2001 Ford E-150 wheelchair lift van listed on ebay that is in Holly. The van has 59,000 miles and has been in 2 accidents and has a rebuilt / salvage title. What are your thoughts about buying a vehicle with a rebuilt / salvage title?
AnswerI would want to find out where and how extensive the damage to the vehicle was. Sometimes they give salvage titles to cars that have mostly cosmetic damage but try to find out as much information as possible as well as the shop that did the repairs. If this was anything to do with water damage then I would stay away from it for sure as water damage takes sometimes years to show up and seems to last forever with corrosion and such in the wiring and electronics. You should also have the vehicle inspected at a reputable collision or repair shop before you make the purchase just to be safe.
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QuestionRan Out of Gas, Filled Tank Wont Start:  I have a 93 GMC Sonoma. I ran out of gas, put gas in it and it will not crank. I changed the spark plugs and the fuel filter and still nothing but it is getting gas and firing.
AnswerThe problem you may be having now is low fuel pressure due to the pump getting hot from running low on fuel. On a new and healthy pump this may not happen right away but on an older fuel pump you want to be careful not to run it low on fuel too often. You can check this with a fuel pressure gauge and will need to know the specification for your vehicle. You can get the specs from most parts stores or call me at 248-382-1280 with the VIN number and I can give this info to you.
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QuestionCoolant Leak:  My coolant leaks, however the car never overheats. I can see coolant level low. Changed water pumps but a mechanic says its the head gasket where its leaking from. Talked to my buddy and he told me cooling fan not working so the car has too much pressure and this could be the cause. I was wondering would this be the cause?
AnswerThe head gasket could be the cause and would not always show signs of leaking as the coolant is burned in the combustion chamber. If the coolant leak in the head gasket was excessive enough you would see white smoke from the tailpipe when running the car or have a hard starting problem. An external head gasket leak or any other external leak if small enough could dry up before hitting the ground and the best way to find this would be to add dye to the cooling system and watch for leaks with a black light and special glasses that show the dye glowing like the stuff they sometimes put on your hand when you go into clubs or events then have you hold your hand under a light upon re-entry. There is also a combustion leak test that we do here to find head gasket leaks. It involves using a special chemical and drawing air from the radiator or coolant reservoir that changes color when there are combustion gasses present. As for the cooling fan not working this could be the cause of the problem but the car would most likely be overheating and you would see the temp gauge getting very hot. Make sure you have this cooling fan repaired no matter what the cause of the coolant leak is since summer is here your car could overheat and cause engine damage.
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QuestionWiper Blades Stop:  My wiper blades keep stopping in the middle of the windshield while they are turned on. In order to get them down or to continue moving back and forth I have to shut them off and then turn them on again. What would be causing this? Also, I have a 2003 Grand Am GT and the clicking of the signal light keeps going off even when the signal lights arent on…
AnswerThe wiper problem you are experiencing is most likely the cause of a bad wiper motor but could be in the control circuit. You may want to have this checked at a repair shop since the motor can be expensive and difficult to replace. As for the Grand Am this one is a common failure and is usually the turn signal hazard multifunction switch. They short out internally and cause this problem quite often.
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QuestionPoured Water On Battery:  My mom poured water on her battery to clean it and killed the battery. I took her to get a new one and put it in which fixed the problem but in less than 4 hours the brand new battery died completely where even lights dont work at all and there is no noise when u turn the key. Any idea what she did by pouring water on it? 92 Subaru Legacy
AnswerPouring water on the battery would not have caused this problem unless there was water left on top of the battery and it is a top post battery. Water can conduct electricity but we clean batteries with a solution of baking soda and water then rinse with water regularly and never see this kind of problem. You might want to have your car checked for a draw like something staying on such as a light, motor, etc. This is most likely the cause. Also have the charging system tested.
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QuestionHissing Sound In Rear 05 Impala:  Hi Chris. I just noticed a hissing sound at the back of my 05 Impala. I dont know if its the fuel pump going bad? When I turn off the car it stops!
AnswerThis could be a few things and you might want to have a mechanic near you listen to it. The fuel pump will make a steady humming noise when the car is running and one thing you could do is listen while someone turns the key on and see if the sound is the same. When you turn the key on the pump should run for 10 seconds or so to prime the fuel system. If this is the sound try changing the fuel filter first as it could be clogged causing the pump to work very hard to produce enough pressure and volume to keep the car running. Next thing to look at is if the hissing sound is coming from the fuel cap or the vent valve under the car in the evaporative emissions canister. These valves can become inoperative at times causing the fuel tank to pressurize or have a vacuum. If this is the case you will need a professional to diagnose this as the cost can go very high if you replace the wrong part.
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QuestionWheel Makes Grinding Noise:  When driving forward the right front wheel makes kind of a scraping, growling, grinding noise. At higher speeds (40+) the noise stops. When slowing down while I am pressing the brakes I still hear the noise. When I turn right I can hear the noise but when turning left I cant hear it.
AnswerThis is most likely a wheel bearing going bad. If you jack up the front wheels and try to move the top and bottom of the tire in and out it should give you an indication as to which one it is but sometimes we have to run them on a hoist and listen with a stethoscope to determine the exact one causing the noise. You should fix this as soon as possible so that it does not cause any further damage to other parts or become serious enough to be dangerous.
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QuestionLoud Noise Spare Tire:  We have a Ford Windstar. We had a flat tire in the rear. We put on a full size spare. The spare has deeper tread than the other three tires. Now there is a loud noise and a bad vibration at about 50 mph. Could this be caused by the spare?
AnswerIf this noise and vibration was not there prior to putting the spare on then this is most likely the cause. You need to check for mud build up in the rim if the spare tire was kept under the vehicle as this will cause a lot of vibration at that speed. Also you should check the lug nuts right away to make sure they are tightened properly. Other things I would look at is if the rim is making contact with any part of the brake or suspension, this should show some signs of rubbing like a shinny spot on it. Last but not least I would check the air pressure and balance of the tire. If it is a spare it may not have been properly balanced. Also depending on how old it is tires can go bad over time without having ever been on the road. One last thing if this is an all wheel drive van or has anti lock brakes the difference in the tread wear can certainly cause a problem as well.
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QuestionDisable Key In Ignition Ping:  I have an 09 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD and whenever I open the door with the key in it pings. I took out a speaker on the driver side door and I still hear it. I know its in a black box but I cant find the box. Any suggestions?
AnswerI think what you are asking me is how to disable the chime for when the key is left in the ignition. If this is not it then please write back and give me a better description of what you need help with. As a professional mechanic I do not tamper with safety devices such as the chime modules unless they are not functioning properly and then it is usually something you need time, wiring diagrams and repair info to diagnose properly, these systems are made up of several components on todays vehicles that need to properly communicate with each other and can be very difficult to diagnose even with as simple of a function as they may seem.
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QuestionShaking When Stopped 04 Ram:  I have an 04 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 4.6L V8. It starts shaking when I am stopped. I just did a minor tune-up. What do you think is wrong with it?
AnswerAnything I tell you at this point would just be a guess without hearing the vehicle run and knowing the history. First off if the shaking did not start until after the tune up then you need to look for possible cracked porcelain on one or more of the spark plugs. Check to make sure the proper spark plugs were installed, sometimes they are cataloged wrong. Next I would make sure when you are checking the plugs to pay attention to the coil boots as you remove the coils to make that they were seated properly and in good condition. If the shaking was present before the tune up then it is probably best at this point if you have a professional look at it as some components are difficult to test and may take some specialty equipment to test. With the cost of parts for todays vehicles guessing is not a good way to go.
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QuestionLoud Noise Like Bad Tire:  I have a 2000 Honda Civic and it makes a loud noise when driving like its got a bad tire. My husband replaced the passenger side strut, that is where the noise seems to be coming from. We got new tires but the noise is getting worse. How do you know if its a strut or bearings?
AnswerThis sounds like a wheel bearing noise to me. The way to check this is first while driving down the road when the noise is loudest swerve the car from left to right, being safe of course and not in front of a police car. If the noise gets louder one way and quieter the other then you need to listen for it to be coming from the front or rear. Next is to jack up the wheels and support the car with jack stands, then grab each wheel and try to move it in and out at the top and bottom of the wheel. Also rotate the wheels one at a time to listen for the noise. Sometimes you need to run the vehicle at high speeds while off the ground and listen with a stethoscope but I do not recommend doing this at home.

CUSTOMER REPLY - Thank you very much for answering my question. I really appreciate your help.
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QuestionElectrical Power Problems 05 Neon:  I have an 05 Dodge Neon SRT-4 and when I am driving the power will turn off then back on. The e brake and engine light will come on and the gauges will and radio will turn off and sometimes it will just turn the car off. It happens more after I shift out of gear. Please help me.
AnswerThis sounds like a loose connection to me. I would start by wiggling the wiring harnesses around while the car is idling and see if you can duplicate the problem but be careful not to get near any moving or hot parts when doing so. Also check the battery connections and the ground connection at the block.
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QuestionLoud Knocking When Stopped:  I have a strange noise coming from my car when I stop. It is a knocking sound it almost sounds like something is gonna fall out from under it at anytime now. Its really loud and embarrassing.
AnswerThis is not something you should keep driving on. It would be very hard for me to guess at what the noise is without seeing your car but I strongly recommend that you get your car to a repair shop as soon as possible to have it looked at as this sounds dangerous to me. Most shops should be able to take your car for a short drive and advise you as to what it may be without charge but you should have a hoist inspection done to confirm the cause before it does more damage or leaves you stranded.
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QuestionNo Brakes and Smoke:  My 92 Chevy S10 was driving fine. We pulled into a gas station and all of a sudden it started smoking and my brakes went out! It will stop but the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor and when I push the brake it will smoke! What could the problem be?
AnswerThere are a couple of possibilities here. First thing is to check the level of the brake fluid. It is most likely leaking and either spraying on the hot engine or exhaust as you hit the brakes or if the smoke is coming from the tailpipe of your exhaust then you most likely have a bad master cylinder and it is getting in to the vacuum hose through the brake booster and will cause damage to the brake booster if it happens for too long.
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QuestionFlip Filter Cover Better Mileage?:  I have a big Chevy 454 and I heard that if you turn your filter cover over you will get better gas mileage. Is this true?
AnswerTo the best of my knowledge no this will not get you any better gas mileage. I admit that I have never seen this tested for any amount of time or miles though. The only way to be sure is to run a tank of fuel with it flipped and check your mileage against it not flipped.

CUSTOMER REPLY - Ok I will try it, just love the truck but hate the gas it takes, thanks.
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QuestionSpits Gas Out While Fueling:  I have a 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS and my problem is it wont allow me to put gas into it. Every time I try it spits gasoline back out.
AnswerThere are a few possibilities on this car that can cause this. Most likely it is a bad evaporative vent valve but could also be a clogged or collapsed line to the charcoal canister or a plugged canister. One last possible cause is a check valve in the fuel tank where you fill it at that prevents fuel from pouring out in the case of a roll over but this is the least most likely cause. You may want to let a repair shop handle this one for you as it takes some specialty equipment and knowledge of how this system functions to diagnose and repair it properly without replacing parts that may be working properly.
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QuestionLoud Whistle 1990 Grand Prix:  1990 Grand Prix 3.1 non-turbo When my engine is started I get this extra loud whistle from the engine, seems to be around the egr valve. I thought it was busted so I changed it, put the new one on and still a whistle. Im not sure if it is a bad vacuum leak or not but it seems like that is the only thing that it could be since ive already changed the egr valve. Wondering if maybe the egr hose has a leak or pvc? The noise is literally unbearable. Also ive notice that my heat barely comes out, on the defrost it’s a light breeze and when switched to vent nothing comes out. Any suggestions or tips would help a lot!! Thanks.
AnswerThis definitely sounds like a vacuum leak to me and should be an easy find. Try pouring some water over the suspected area while the car is running and when you get to the leak you will notice that the sound changes and should see it pulling the water in. Do not over do the water because if the vacuum leak is large enough it could pull in too much water and hydro-lock the engine. As far as the heat problem this could be caused by the vacuum leak as well and fixing one may cure both.
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QuestionLoud Sound When Braking:  What causes a loud sometimes a pulsating sound when I brake. It is an intermittent happening but it has happened to me twice. I took it to the dealer and they found nothing wrong with the brakes. I know there is. How can I sound intelligent about this when I take it back. Thank you.
AnswerI would need to know a little more about the type of car you drive, miles on the car and if it is four wheel drive. Some vehicles with anti-lock brakes will activate on dry pavement when they are not suppose to because of bad wheel speed sensors or tone rings cracked on the axle shaft and some have a problem with rust jacking of the wheel speed sensors and just needs to be cleaned. This will cause the brake pedal to pulsate or vibrate and is usually accompanied by a moaning sound from the abs pump. If this is not the correct symptom then try to make a note of when it does this such as first thing in the morning, after driving several miles, wet or dry roads and whether it is hot or cold outside.
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QuestionLoud Noise Unless Turning Left:  I have a Ford Focus and when driving it makes a very loud noise unless I turn left then the noise stops. What could this be and is it dangerous?
AnswerThis sounds most likely to be a front or rear wheel bearing and you should have it fixed as soon as possible, by the time they start making enough noise for you to hear it is is already in fairly bad shape and could stop the wheel from turning or do more damage to other parts and cost quite a bit more to fix, also look to see if you have any plastic possibly rubbing a tire from inside the wheel well but I would strongly suspect a wheel bearing.
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QuestionChugging Noise:  Hi. I was wondering what it means when my car makes a chugging noise when I put my foot on the gas. It almost feels like Im not going to make it up a hill or whatnot. Ive heard it could mean that I need a tune up? But Im not sure.
AnswerThis does sound like a tune-up related problem but could be caused by other things as well. First thing to consider is how many miles your car has on it. Most cars today last up to and over 100,000 miles before the first tune-up. If over 100,000 miles than the first place to start is with a good tune-up as it most likely needs this anyway for maintenance. If this is not the cause then you may need to go to a repair shop as the diagnostic equipment we have to use for todays vehicles is very expensive and takes much time to learn to use them properly. Dont forget to change your fuel filter with the tune-up as this is usually under the car and often overlooked as part of the complete tune-up.
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Question09 Impala Heater Doesnt Stay Hot:  I have a 09 impala and the heater will not stay hot when the car is idling. When you touch the accelerator pedal it gets almost instant hot. But it makes it very hard to melt ice on the windshield.
AnswerThis problem is most commonly caused by a restricted heater core and a good flushing should fix it. To check this when the car is warm and idling feel both heater hoses. If one is considerably cooler than the other then you have most likely found your problem. Other things to look for is proper coolant level and circulation. If you need to flush the cooling system and heater core do so by first draining as much of your old coolant as possible then take off both heater hoses and flush the heater core back and forth from one hose to the other. You should see when the debris comes out and the water should flow free and clear. Next flush the radiator and block from the other end of the heater hose where they hook to the engine and also from your upper and lower radiator hoses in both directions on all hoses. When finished drain as much water out as you can and start by filling the system with first straight antifreeze for the first gallon then use a 50 50 mix and make sure to bleed the system. On this car I leave the top heater hose off while filling then use a small funnel into the heater hose and fill until it comes out the heater pipe at the engine, then reconnect the hose, top off the system and run until hot. Now after it cools down again you will need to check for the proper coolant water mix with an antifreeze tester. It should be good to minus 34 degrees. If not you may need to adjust this by draining some out then adding more coolant or water to adjust the mix. Don’t forget to take your old coolant to a parts store or repair shop that accepts it for recycling purposes as this should not be put down the drain or left outside. Pets seem to like drinking it and it is poison.
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QuestionAC Stops Over Hills:  1 Why when my car goes over the hill the AC stops working? 2 The car wont start when its turned off for a couple of days. The battery is 6 months old and the alternator is brand new. I have a Ford Windstar.
AnswerI would need more information on your vehicle to be able to help with these problems, but here is some info. First the AC cutting out when going over hills could be that the engine temp and condenser gets too warm and this system has a switch that will prevent the AC from running during these conditions. Keep an eye on the temp gauge when the AC cuts out and see if this is possibly the cause.

As far as the engine not starting after sitting for a couple of days, if the battery is going dead and it is not turning over than you most likely have a battery draw. First things to look for are lights that may be on like map lights, glove box light, trunk light or visor lights. Sometimes this can be a very hard problem to find and you may need to take it into a shop.
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Question97 Mercury Tracer Wont Start:  Hi Chris. I have a question about my daughters car. She has a 97 Mercury Tracer and it will not start. We have replaced the coil, fuel pump, fuel pump relay, crank sensor, and fuses. It still wont start even with a jump. Any other ideas that will help us?? Thank you!!!
Jeff and Michelle
AnswerJeff and Michelle, at this point I would recommend going to a repair shop. Most shops have a one hour charge to diagnose this kind of problem and with the cost of all that you have done it looks like it would have saved you money already. With that said the first thing to look at is fuel and spark, as well as injector pulse. This takes some specialty tools for the injector pulse and fuel pressure but the spark you can easily check with an old spark plug by putting it on the end of one of the plug wires and laying it on a good metal grounding point on the engine and having a partner crank the car while you watch for spark.
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QuestionAC Flapping Noise:  I have a 2009 Chevy Impala. When I turn the AC on then turn it off I hear a flapping noise right where the AC vents are. Can you tell me what it might be?
AnswerMarie, this sounds like a loose or disconnected blend door. I have looked for any service bulletins or related issues in our information system and found none. This may be something you have to have looked at by a repair shop with a bore scope or something similar to find the cause.
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QuestionHard Crank Chevy S-10:  I have a 2000 Chevy S-10 sitting overnight or 3 to 4 hours it is very hard to crank. It whines over several times then it starts and runs fine. I have run several kinds of cleaner in gas tank but nothing has helped yet. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for the help.
AnswerJesse, I would start with checking the fuel pressure regulator on this truck as they have a history of causing this kind of problem. To check this you will need to find the small round canister with a vacuum hose going to it on the fuel rail and unplug the vacuum hose to it then have someone turn the ignition key from off to on while you watch for any fuel to come out of the tip of the metal canister. If fuel comes out then you most likely have found your problem. If not the next thing to check is the crank sensor as they can cause this problem too. This would take a lab scope and knowledge of the signal that it produces so you may need to take it to a repair shop for this. Other than that you would be best to leave it at a shop overnight so that it can be diagnosed when it is acting up in the morning.
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QuestionDodge Dakota Tough Steering:  Chris, my buddy referred me to you. I have a 2005 Dodge Dakota that at high speeds the steering is really tough. At low speeds this is not an issue. Any ideas on what it could be? Power Steering??
AnswerThese vehicles seem to have a problem with the power steering pumps. There is a filter that gets plugged and causes them to fail. Chrysler has an updated pump for this problem. You need to flush the system and replace the pump for this to work properly. This may not be the fix for the problem you have and you may want to have it looked at by a repair shop first because of the cost of parts but this a common problem with this vehicle as stated.
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QuestionCamaro IROC Coolant Leak:  First question ...over the winter I purchased a 1988 Camaro IROC-Z for cruising and shows and I have not found a mechanic to work on it yet. Do you work on these older cars? 2nd ...today I noticed a slight coolant leak coming from under the very front of the engine. I suspect it is the water pump ...could you give me an estimate for parts and labor, or do you need to see the car? I am a current customer. Thank you, Sir!
AnswerYes we do work on this vehicle. As far as the coolant leak be sure to look very closely at the intake manifold gasket as this is a common problem on this engine. There are also freeze in the front that can leak as well at the water pump mounting gasket. My best advice is to rinse the engine down, let it dry then pressure test the cooling system. Have a mirror and a flashlight ready to look under the water pump and surrounding area when you first pressurize it to see the leak when it starts. Once it has run down the engine it can look like something lower but could be coming from a higher point and leaking down.
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QuestionGrand Am PO301 Misfire:  I have a 1998 Grand Am that has a po301 misfire. I have paid a mechanic for a fuel injector, a pcm and coding, and a fuel pump still have the code. I told him that I had poor acceleration, sluggish and sometime hard starts, plus it has stalled out numerous times at a stop. Cruise will speed up to get to its set speed. Really pathetic gas mileage and the chugging continues. He claims he took a coil housing from a known grand am that was running and swapped it but still has the code and engine analysis shows the misfire still happens. What do I do next, since I keep paying for engine analysis that doesnt fix anything. Camshaft sensor and vacuum leaks and the idle air control valve are all I can think of as possible causes. Thanks for your help much appreciated. This car is a mechanics dream for experience and test case, but an owners nightmare for costs.
AnswerFirst off if you have paid to have this car fixed for this same problem more than one time then you need to question the shop that is charging you and not repairing it properly. If they are not able to repair it then you should not be paying especially more than once. I would start with a compression test of that cylinder both running and cranking compression and compare it to the other cylinders. There are many other things that could be the cause like a vacuum leak, wiring to the fuel or spark control on that cylinder or a restricted fuel rail. You may need to go to a different repair shop to have this checked but ask if the shop is sure that the quoted repair will definitely fix the problem.
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QuestionChevy Smokes:  Chevy 350 smokes. Other than a rebuild, what do think about no smoke products such as bars no smoke, or engine restore. Looking for a temporary fix until I can get a rebuild. Thank you.
AnswerI have never had any luck with these quick fix items that you mention. On the 350 Chevy engine this is a common problem when they get old. One thing that is most common is the umbrella seals on the valve stems and causes smoke on start up then goes away while driving. Other causes are sometimes a lower intake manifold leak and this can be checked by removing the pvc valve plugging all vent and dipstick tube holes then checking for vacuum to be present in the crankcase. If there is vacuum then the intake manifold gasket needs to be replaced.
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QuestionFront End Snap:  I have a 1994 Pontiac Firebird with 88,000 miles and the front end has not sounded tight or reliable since I bought it. I recently merged on to freeway and felt a snap in front end, made a REALLY loud clunking noise in front end so I stopped it ASAP. I noticed it did not make this noise in reverse. Any ideas? It is now undrivable until I get it towed?
AnswerI would recommend that you have it towed to a repair shop and looked at. Any time that you are dealing with a steering or suspension noise like this it could be serious and cause you to lose control of the vehicle and not be able to steer it properly causing an accident or injury.
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QuestionSquealing Noise Front of Engine:  Hi. My 2002 Chevy Impala 3400 V6 is making a squealing noise near the front of the engine when I start the car. When I shut the car off it continues to squeal for about 10 to 15 seconds before running down and shutting off. I think the sound is coming from the fan but not sure.
AnswerThis sounds like you have something caught in the electric fan motor. To check this you should disconnect the battery negative cable and see if the fan moves freely by hand. Keep in mind there may be more than one cooling fan and the second one could be in front of the radiator and difficult to access. Also, if there is nothing in the fan it could be a motor going bad or a stripped out fan blade.
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QuestionTire Noise After Rotation:  My Nissan is making a noise after taking it for a tire rotation. What could that be?
AnswerThis happens quite often and is usually caused by the tires being worn differently from front to back. When you rotate them the noise will generally go away after some driving but if the wear pattern is excessive it may not go away and might indicate that you need a front end alignment.
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QuestionVectra Estate Bang:  I have a Vectra Estate 05. As you go around a corner or go over a bump in the road the front passenger side makes a bang.
AnswerI am not very familiar with this car but this sounds like a front end component that is loose or damaged. You should have this looked at by a qualified repair shop as soon as possible as this could cause you to lose control of the vehicle if it is a steering or suspension component.
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QuestionAC Not Working at Idle:  I have a 2006 Silverado and my air will not work while I am idling but when I start driving down the road it starts blowing. What could it be?
AnswerI am not sure but I think you are saying that it gets cold when moving and does not blow cold at idle. If this is the case you need to check a couple of things. First, make sure your cooling fan is working properly and that the condenser is not restricted in any way (this is in front of the truck behind the grill and looks like a radiator). The condenser tends to get debris in as it acts like a filter being in front of the radiator. You can clean it with a garden hose but be careful not to bend the shape of the fins as they are very easily damaged. Next thing to check is that the refrigerant is not low or high for any reason. This can cause this symptom as well and sometimes you need to have the system evacuated and pulled into a vacuum to get any excess moisture out of it. This would take equipment that you may have to go to a repair shop for.
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QuestionChevy Wont Start:  I have a 1988 Chevy classic and when I open the door the lights are on in the inside but when I turn the key to start the car the power goes out and the car wont even start?
AnswerThis sounds like a bad connection at the battery, starter, or ground to the engine block. This is most often battery connections that need cleaned or replaced. Disconnect the battery and look for green powder or for the cable ends to look swelled up near the ends of the cable. If so they should be replaced.
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QuestionMud Puddles Loud Engine:  I noticed that when I drive through mud puddles in my car that my engine sounds louder. Should I be concerned about this?
AnswerFirst thing is I hope you arent going through the mud puddles very fast. This can cause water to go into the intake and hydro lock the engine causing severe damage. It could be that water is getting into the fan or on the belt area and causing the extra noise. One more possibility is an exhaust leak that may sound louder over water than other road surfaces.
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QuestionHeadlights Go Out:  When I am driving down the road at night sometimes my headlights go out for no apparent reason. What could be the cause of this?
AnswerThis sounds like a circuit that is possibly overheating do to a poor connection. If they come back on after cooling down for a while then this is most likely the cause and should be looked at soon as overheating electrical can cause a fire. If the problem only happens when you hit a bump in the road then it could be just a loose connector or fuse and sometimes can be found by taking your hand and hitting different areas until the lights flash or go off. A bad headlight switch can do this as well. Try turning the light switch off and on when this happens to see if it corrects itself. If so I would replace the switch.
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QuestionPot Hole:  I just hit a huge pot hole in the road. I blew out my tire and bent my rim. Where should I look for other damage that may have been done to my vehicle that may not be so obvious?
AnswerI would start by looking for broken springs, leaking shocks or struts. Other than that my best advice is to have a repair shop do a thorough inspection as well as a front end alignment. Most technicians can spot damage that may not look like damage to the untrained eye. We look for fresh flaking rust and bushings that may be out of place that could indicate problems. A front end alignment is very important after this type of damage as it will show items that are out of adjustment or may have been damaged beyond the range of adjustment and should be replaced or sent to a frame shop.
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QuestionAC Recharge:  Do I need to recharge my AC every year or only when I notice that it is not blowing cold enough air anymore?
AnswerYou do not need to recharge your AC every year but when you notice it not cooling as well as it should there are a few things that you should do. First check your cabin air filter and the AC condenser for any restrictions, the condenser is the part in your grill that looks like a radiator and can easily get filled with leaves and other debris that can cause this. Next is to have a qualified repair shop do an inspection, recycle, and recharge making sure that they pull a good vacuum on the system to get out all of the moisture that can accumulate over years of service. Most shops use some form of dye in the oil or refrigerant these days to detect small leaks and a refrigerant leak detector for larger leaks. With the cost of refrigerant going up so fast and the harm to the atmosphere it is important to make sure there are no leaks in the system.
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QuestionFront End Creaky Sound:  2000 Grand Prix, getting a loud creaky sound, right front end, rotational with the revolution of the wheel, stops when car stops. Makes noise when wheels are straight or turning. Makes the noise in gear or in neutral, as long as the car is in motion you can hear it with the rotation of the tire. Its not related to braking. Brakes were checked and serviced. Louder at slower speeds. Its a creaky, rubber on metal, binding sound. Creak, Creak, Creak. Faster as the wheels go faster, slower as the wheels go slower. It does not make this noise all the time. Not the same volume each time. Very loud one day and not so loud the next. Can go several days without hearing it at all. It cannot be duplicated or re-created. Its now making a rattle sound when going over uneven pavement and the steering seems a little loose.
AnswerThis sounds like a hub cap or possibly a tire issue but could be a wheel bearing as well. The first thing to try is if the car has a hub cap remove it and see if the noise goes away. Also check the air in the tires. I have seen low air pressure cause the tire to make this noise when contacting the wheel. If you do not have any luck you are welcome to bring it by the shop for a look at by one of my mechanics. We have a chassis ear tool that we can use to aid in finding strange noises while driving.
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QuestionBrake Pedal Noise:  I have a grand Cherokee Laredo 1997 and the brake pedal makes a lot of noise. Air escapes out of it and when I step on the brake it even whistles inside the car. I would like to know what I have to replace or fix.
AnswerThis sounds like a vacuum brake booster to me. The brake booster is the large round unit behind the master cylinder and it has a vacuum hose going to it but is not easily replaced. Make sure you have a manual to help you with the replacement.
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QuestionBouncy and Unstable:  When I go over a hump in the road or around certain curves my car feels very bouncy and unstable. I only have 76,000 miles on my car. Do you think it is time for struts that soon or could it be something else that is wrong?
AnswerThis could be struts. The strut manufacturers recommend replacement at 50,000 miles but I believe it depends more on the road conditions you normally drive on and your driving habits. Other things to consider are sway bar links, coil springs, leaf springs or air suspension, and last but should be checked first is the air in the tires. Make sure they are all even and at the proper pressure as stated by the sticker on the inside door jam on the drivers door.
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QuestionDefrost Problems:  My 2000 Chevrolet Blazer loses defrost mode when I accelerate and sometimes takes a while for it to return. Seems like the controls are losing vacuum. What could be the problem?
AnswerThere are a few things that could cause this and vacuum loss is the most likely. Things that can cause a loss of vacuum to the heater controls are ignition or valve timing off, vacuum leaks in the hoses, connections or components, also a leaky brake booster. First thing to listen for is a hissing sound when the engine is running and while switching modes on the heater control. Next, you may have an intake leak or sticking EGR valve. These would usually have to be found with a smoke machine at a repair shop.
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QuestionRadiator Hoses Collapsing:  I have problems with the radiator hoses collapsing.... especially after shutting the car off. I've replaced the radiator, heater core, thermostat, hoses, and cap. Also, have got all the air out...no head gasket problems either?
AnswerThis sounds like a bad radiator cap to me. Did you buy the cap for your car specifically? If so you may want to try another, it is most likely not venting properly. The way the cap is supposed to work is that when the engine needs coolant it allows it to flow in freely from the over flow jug, which should be near the radiator. When it expands beyond the cooling system capacity it allows coolant to purge back into the overflow jug. You should also make sure there are no restrictions in the hose from the radiator to the overflow jug or any restrictions on the jug itself.
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QuestionBumpy Road Noise:  What is the problem when your car makes noise when you drive on bumpy roads?
AnswerThis could be a lot of things, starting with shocks or struts, strut mounts, sway bar links, control arm bushings, loose or worn brake caliper mounts, brake pads, loose exhaust mounts or shields, worn out frame or body mounts, bad motor or transmission mounts, loose steering or suspension parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends etc., and not to be overlooked I have found the occasional spare tire or other items laying loose in the car or trunk from time to time.
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QuestionDefroster Shuts Off Engine:  On my 2003 Chevy Trailblazer every time I turn on my front windshield defroster my engine shuts off. My heater and motor switch work fine.
AnswerYou have a strange one here but I will try to help if can. First thing I would check are grounds to the battery, chassis, engine and body. Also check for any loose vacuum hoses or vacuum leaks. If nothing is found there you may need some equipment to verify if you are losing injector pulse, spark, or that the idle air motor is just not able to adjust fast enough to compensate for the extra load when using defrost mode. Let me know if you find the problem. If not stop by the shop and we can listen to it for you and see if we may be able to help you narrow it down.
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Question50,000 Mile Maintenance:  I have just reached 50,000 miles on my car. What preventative maintenance do you recommend at this time?
AnswerYour owners manual will have the best answer for this question but the most overlooked items are fuel filter, cabin air filter, transmission service, timing belt (on some vehicles), coolant flush, and tire rotation. You should also have your brakes, steering, and suspension looked at if you havent already done so.
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QuestionWinter Ready:  What should I do to make sure my car is ready for winter?
AnswerThis is a very good question this time of year! The answer is you should first have the strength and condition of your engine coolant checked. The other items are belts, hoses, fuel, air, and cabin air filters, tune up components (plugs wires, distributor cap and rotor,pcv valve). Also you should have the battery starting and charging system tested as well as all battery connections cleaned. Next is check the tire tread and pressures, and dont forget to check the air in the spare tire it gets overlooked a lot. Check the condition of the wiper blades and the strength of the washer solvent, summer washer solvent is sometimes not sufficient enough for winter driving. One more thing to check is that your heater is giving off good heat now rather than when it is cold enough to need it. Also make sure your blower comes out on the defrost mode as some cars tend to stick after not using them all summer. Last but not least lube you door locks periodically and carry some lock deicer just in case of freezing rain.

PS - Now is a good time to have your steering, suspension, and brakes checked since most people drive with the windows up and may not hear noises that you would hear in the summer months!
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QuestionTire Wheel Noise:  I just put four new tires on my Impala and still have this tunnel noise coming from my front right tire. With certain speeds it will get louder or softer. I did put new brakes and pads on two years ago and just that brake will squeak too. Could it be the ball bearing or something else? It is driving me nuts!
AnswerThis sounds like a bad wheel / hub bearing to me. Does it get louder when you go around corners to the right or left? If so then suspect a bad wheel / hub bearing. If not have the steering suspension and front end alignment checked as a possible cause.

CUSTOMER REPLY 1 - Actually when I do turn the wheel while driving around curves the sound gets quieter. My alignment is straight.

ASK THE MECHANIC SAYS - It should get quieter turning one way and louder turning the other. If so then it is most likely a hub bearing.

CUSTOMER REPLY 2 - Thanks so much!!!
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QuestionCooling Fan Inoperable:  I have a coolant fan inoperable on a 1993 Corsica 3.1 with 105,000 miles, have changed the CTS along with new lead, also fan relay, fan does work if connected to the battery direct. Should I be looking for a dirty ground? Running a jumper across the relay terminals I have current at the fan lead. Any ideas what could be the problem? Thank you, Dan
AnswerDan, On this vehicle you should find a relay near the right rear of the engine compartment on the relay bracket. It should have a (red / pink and black / dark green and white / black and red ) wires going to it. The red should have battery power at all times, the pink and black should have power with the key in the on position, the dark green and white should be grounded when the computer commands it to which turns on the relay for the fan. This happens when the coolant gets to 226 degrees or if you turn on the a/c. The black and red wire goes to the cooling fan and should have power when the relay is commanded on. If you do not have power at the red wire check the fuse link, usually found at the starter or near the battery. If the pink and black does not have power check fuse # 9 in the fuse box under the dash. If both wires have power try grounding the dark green and white wire. If the cooling fan comes on then you will need a scan tool to proceed, if not check the black and red wire from the relay to the fan for a problem.

CUSTOMER REPLY 1 - Thanks again for the ideas, will try them and let you know the outcome. If I need a scan tool you will see me. Now I know where to go. Dan

CUSTOMER REPLY 2 - Update on coolant fan, now working with a new thermostat and relay, thanks again Dan!
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QuestionSteering Wheel Shake:  I recently had my tires rotated and now I notice that I have a slight shaking in my steering wheel. There also seems to be some kind of slight noise there too. The repair shop made sure the wheels were all tight and said they could not see a problem. What could cause this?
AnswerThis is something we see from time to time caused by either a slightly bent wheel, out of balance tire, or belt separation in the tire. The reason it is noticeable after the tire rotation is because when the tire in question is on the rear of the car it will not be as pronounced as when it is on the front. The first thing to check is the tire pressures and wheel balance, then if the problem is still there rotate the tires back to their original position and see if the problem is gone.
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QuestionBrake Pedal Vibrates on Stops:  I have a 2000 Chevy 4X4 truck and when I come to a stop the brake pedal goes down and vibrates. I have almost hit the car in front of me on a couple of occasions. The ABS light is not on but it seems like it is in the Anti Lock Brakes, can you please help me.
AnswerThis is most likely caused by rust build up under the front wheel speed sensors, but can be other things like a bad wheel speed sensor or wheel bearing. The front wheel speed sensors can be cleaned in most cases but sometimes they are rusted in and break when trying to remove them. You can get just the speed sensor without the bearing but if the wheel bearing is loose or making noise it comes with the speed sensor so you should just buy the whole assembly and replace it all. To find out for sure if it is the rust build up or other problem you will need a lab scope, but rust is the most common cause and just takes time to clean if the sensors come out OK. We fix a lot of them here at the shop with just the cleaning.
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QuestionHot Engine Shuts Off:  When my engine is cold my car is working fine, but after is gets hot it shuts off. Please help!
AnswerThis sounds like an electrical part that it going bad like a fuel pump or crankshaft sensor, but could be other things as well. A problem like this usually takes some specialty equipment to find, such as a lab scope, fuel pressure gauge, spark tester, or noid light. This may be one that you want to take in to a repair shop since the tools to diagnose the problem and the parts that could be causing the problem are expensive.
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QuestionSelecting a Repair Shop:  What should I be looking for when I am selecting an auto repair shop?
AnswerFirst you should ask your friends and neighbors for some places that they have had good service from. Next try going to the repair shop and introduce yourself as a possible customer and ask what type of vehicles they work on. See if the mechanics are comfortable with your particular car make and model. Some shops specialize in certain car makes like GM, Ford, or Chrysler and some do all US made. Most shops can handle steering, brakes, and suspension on any car make. When it comes to drive train problems on foreign models you want to know that they have the proper tools and know how before they work on your car because if things go wrong it can get very expensive. Also, look around the shop when visiting and make sure they have the proper facility license and repair shop signs on the wall. Make sure they have current mechanics certifications in the areas you plan to have worked on like brakes, engine, transmission, tune-up, engine performance, and so on.
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QuestionTiming Belt:  I called for a price to replace my timing belt and the price from one shop to another was very far apart (like over $200). When I asked the shop I called last why so much more they said that the other shop may not be doing as complete of a job as them. The shop manager explained that when doing a timing belt even for maintenance that you should use a complete kit with pulley's, tensioner, and a water pump where applicable. I called back the first shop and they said I did not need to do all that other stuff unless I need it or had the extra money to spend anyway. What should I do?
AnswerWell I have been in this situation more than one time and have found that when you have something so important to your engine it is always better to do the most complete job you can afford. Some engines will damage the valves if the timing belt goes bad and then it gets very expensive. The timing belt has several pulleys it goes around and sometimes drives the water pump as well. If any of these pulleys go bad the timing belt goes with it (every time) so I always recommend replacing them when possible. The water pump is the same as a pulley but it can also leak coolant as it ages even if the pulley is still turning. It would need to be replaced and may require removing the timing belt to be replaced so installing a new one when doing the belt could save you a lot of extra labor down the road.
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QuestionStarter Jump:  Lately, I have to jump my starter to start my car. What could be the problem?
AnswerThis could be a few different things. First you should have your battery tested. Next would be a charging system test and current draw test to see if something is discharging your battery when the car is turned off. Also, you should test the starter draw to make sure it is not taking too many amps to turn the car over. A few things you could look at yourself is to make sure that no lights in the car are left on (glove box and trunk lights can be a little tricky at times). Make sure your battery cable connections are clean and tight, if there is a lot of corrosion on them try pouring a mixture of baking soda and water over them first to clean them. Use a wire brush to finish but be careful, battery fluids are very corrosive and can remove paint and burn skin so wear gloves and safety glasses when working around the battery.
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QuestionFuel & Stabilizer Bar:  When my fuel tank is about a 1/4 full or less I have a lot of trouble starting my car. Sometimes it won't even start until I put gas in it. I recently purchased this car and I am hoping I did not make a big mistake. Also the stabilizer bar is broken. Can the piece be welded on or do I have to have the whole piece replaced. If so what would the cost be? Thank you, Judy from Holly Mi
AnswerJudy, this could indicate a problem with your fuel level sending unit not reading correctly. The only way to tell this is to drop the tank and compare how much fuel is in the tank to how much the gauge reads. The other problem could be a failing fuel pump. It may draw air in when the level gets too low causing this problem. The sender and pump can be serviced separately but if you end up replacing the pump it comes with the sender automatically on this car.

As for the stabilizer bar I would need your Vin # to give you the correct price as there are two different ones offered for this vehicle and the price is about $60.00 apart. The cost would most likely be between $260.00 and $320.00.
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QuestionAir Filter:  I recently got an oil change and the technician suggested that I change the air filter on my car. How important is it that I change my air filter? How often should I do it?
AnswerThe air filter in your car should be checked at every oil change. Most will last at least 30,000 miles but if you live or travel on dirt roads often then you will need to replace your air filter at lower mileage intervals. The air filter is very important to fuel mileage and engine life. It is also very important to use a quality air filter in today's vehicles because cheaper air filters tend to let particles come off and get on the mass air sensor in cars that are equipped with one. This can cause problems such as a hesitation on acceleration and poor fuel mileage.
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QuestionAC Odor:  When I turn on the air conditioning it emits this musky, funky odor. I've heard it could be mildew built up in the AC compressor. What can I do about this problem?
AnswerThis is most likely a cabin air filter or evaporator with a possible drain issue in the heater case. There are some chemicals available for this problem at most auto parts stores. To locate your cabin air filter look in your owners manual or check with your local repair shop and they will be able to help you find the location. Not all cars have cabin air filters but most newer vehicles do. If the heater case drain is plugged or restricted you will most likely need a hoist for this as they are in very difficult locations most times.
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QuestionBrake Pads:  When I go to the parts store to buy brake pads for my car there are several different types available. How do I know what pads to put on my car as the price varies so much for the different pads?
AnswerThe different types of brake pads available for most cars today are ceramic, semi-metallic, and organic. Most newer cars and light trucks come with ceramic pads. As far as what to use depends on your driving and preference. Ceramic are the most popular since they provide good stopping, produce very little if any brake dust, and do not tend to squeal at times like semi metallic pads do. However, they do wear your rotors more than semi metallic or organic and I find that the rotors tend to warp more with ceramic pads. Semi metallic pads are my personal preference and for most drivers these are adequate and will last almost as long as ceramic pads. Organic pads are a thing of the past these days but are still available in some cases. They tend to wear out fast but take very little brake pedal pressure to stop. Organic pads do not wear the rotors nearly as fast. Always make sure when replacing brakes to clean and lube the slides/pins and replace the hardware for the best braking performance.
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QuestionABS & Traction Control:  My traction control and ABS lights are on but my car drives and stops fine. What could be the problem and will it hurt to keep driving my car this way?
AnswerThis could be caused by a few different things. One being a wheel speed sensor or wiring, vehicle speed sensor, blown fuse, or bad relay. Last, but not the least expensive by any means, is a bad ABS control module or hydraulic pump. In most cases this will not affect normal driving and will only be noticed if you have to stop fast on wet or icy roads, then the ABS will not operate. The traction control actually applies the brake if you are stuck or one wheel has less traction than the other, helping you to get torque to the wheel with the most traction. Letting this go usually will not make the problem worse but other problems can arise. This could make it more difficult to diagnose as you may have to fix the first problem to find anything else that may have gone bad since the original symptom.
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QuestionKnocking Noises:  I hear a lot of knocking noises when driving and only when car is in motion, especially on take off and turning.
AnswerThis is a hard question to answer without more information, but I will give you as many possibilities as I can. In a front wheel drive car this could be caused by C/V joint, wheel bearing, sway bar links, bushings, control arm bushings, worn brake caliper pins or brackets, motor mounts, ball joints, tie rod ends, or a loose wheel. In a rear or four wheel drive vehicle this could be caused by many of the above but also could be a bad u-joint, front or rear differential, or transfer case. At any rate this should not be taken lightly and should be looked at right away since most of these could be safety issues and could cause you to lose control of your car.
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QuestionBrakes Chirping:  My car is making a chirping noise when I hit the brakes. Does this mean that I need to replace my brakes?
AnswerThis could mean that your brake pads are getting low and need to be replaced. In some cases metallic brakes will make a slight squeal or chirp noise while coming to a stop. Either way you should look at your brakes or have them inspected at a qualified repair shop since this is always a safety issue. If a car does not move it is not always a safety issue but there is only one reason to use your brakes and if they do not work you and the person in the car in front of you might wish you would have had them checked!
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QuestionAlternator Bad?:  I think that my alternator might be going bad. Is there anything I can do to check for sure if that is the problem?
AnswerOne thing that you can do to check the alternator is if you have a volt meter you can test the battery voltage before you start the car, then again while it is running. The voltage should be above 12 volts not running then go up to 14 volts while running, but not over 15 volts. If the voltage does not go up or gets lower after starting this would indicate an alternator that is not charging. This does not always mean that the alternator is bad though. You would still need to check the wiring to the alternator to make sure it has the proper powers and grounds. On most newer vehicles the computer controls the alternator and a lab scope is needed to check the proper signal to turn the alternator on and off. If you do not have access to a wiring diagram or lab scope you should take the car to a qualified repair shop. If the alternator is easy enough to remove and install most parts stores have a bench tester and will test the alternator for you before selling you the new or remanufactured one.
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QuestionCaliper Sticking:  My front caliper is sticking. What can I do to fix this? Will this cause other problems?
AnswerThis could be caused by a few things. One is a bad brake caliper. If this is the problem I recommend replacing both sides to keep your car from pulling or wearing the brake pads more on one side than the other due to one caliper working more freely than the other. The other possibility is sticking brake hardware or slides that can easily be fixed with proper cleaning, lubricating, or replacement. One more thing that can cause this is a brake hose that is damaged on the inside. This is sometimes the hardest problem to diagnose, not the most common, but should not be overlooked. As far as if this can cause other problems the answer is yes. Over time it can cause your rotor to warp and also overheat the wheel bearings causing them to fail prematurely.
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QuestionATC Fuse Blows:  I have a 2000 old's Bravada, 4.3 liter engine all-wheel drive. When I put it in gear the 20 amp ATC fuse blows. (Active Transfer Case) I can't find the cause. Any suggestions or estimate to fix this?
AnswerThese systems seem to have a lot of problems with the encoder motors going bad but a few with wiring problems. I have included a test to determine which one it may be. If you would like to bring it by the shop we could check it for you and give you an estimate for repairs. We are located in downtown Holly across from the Holly Doughnut Shop. Our address is 402 N. Saginaw. Thanks for the question and I hope this helps.

1. Disconnect the encoder motor Red and Black wire connector and install a test light across the 2 terminals.
2. Test drive the vehicle and verify the fuse does not blow. If the fuse continues to blow, check for short to ground in the wiring between the Transfer Case Control Module and the encoder motor.
3. If the fuse does not blow, replace the encoder motor.
4. Check for incorrect size circumference tires causing premature motor failures. Chalk each tire at the 6 o' clock position, drive the vehicle 10 tire revolutions. Verify all tire chalk marks are equal. If the chalk marks do not line up replace the affected tire and recheck.
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QuestionStalls While Driving:  When I'm driving down the road my car stalls out, but it starts up when I restart it with no problem. What can be wrong?
AnswerThere are several possible causes for this type of problem, such as vacuum leak, bad idle speed motor, torque converter solenoid, crank or cam sensor, and many more sensors that can cause this. First I would need to know if it stalls while moving or only at stops? Then you would need a scan tool to watch the live data for any possible problems that the computer monitors and after that it may get more technical requiring a lab scope.
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QuestionClutch Wear Syptoms:  I have a 2006 Honda Civic, 5 speed manual transmission, with 85,000 miles. How can I tell when the clutch is beginning to wear and might need adjustment or service? What are the symptoms and how much will this cost me? Thanks, Joe in Argentine, MI.
AnswerJoe - This system has a hydraulic clutch and there is no adjustment. There is a fluid reservoir like the one for your master cylinder for the brakes and usually takes brake fluid to fill, but you should always check your owner’s manual BEFORE adding fluids to your car. To tell when your clutch is getting worn the first sign is that when you give the car gas while going up a hill or taking off from a light if the engine rpm goes up but the car does not seem to speed up with the engine speed then the clutch is most likely slipping. Other signs are if the clutch pedal does not seem to engage until your foot is very high off the floor or too close to the floor. One more thing to feel for is when you let up on the clutch if the car seems to jump forward or shutter and then smooth out when the pedal is fully released. This could mean there are hot spots on the flywheel or pressure plate. The cost of this job is approximately $1,260 and this includes a new clutch disc, pressure plate, pilot bearing/bushing, release bearing, and resurfacing of the flywheel which should always be done with this job.
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QuestionShocks & Struts:  How do I know if my car needs shocks or struts?
AnswerOriginal equipment manufacturers suggest a replacement interval of 50,000 miles for their shocks and struts, however, there are a few simple ways to determine the condition for yours specifically. The easiest shock defect to diagnose is one that leaks oil from the cylinder. A leaking shock is a ‘bad’ shock every time, but a shock that is not leaking is not necessarily a ‘good’ shock. At 5 mph, smoothly turn the steering wheel from side to side and take note of how severely the vehicle rolls back and forth. Next, brake sharply (again at 5 mph) to see if the nose of the vehicle dives significantly. From a standstill, accelerate moderately to see how much the rear dives and the nose rises. Finally, inspect the rubber “travel limiting bumpers” usually located on the chassis directly above the shock or strut. Marks on these bumpers indicate excessive travel and would be a definite sign of a worn suspension.

Thanks Galon from Holly Automotive (CARQUEST) for answering this question, having completed the KYB suspension course. We value his input on this topic.
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QuestionDiagnosis Missed/Inaccurate:  I recently had car trouble & towed my vehicle to a repair shop. They diagnosed a major repair & gave me an estimate for the repair of a couple thousand dollars. Although the car was old I decided to fix it. After the repair the car was still not drivable and had to be towed to another repair shop, and was eventually diagnosed with another major repair, pushing the repair cost with the additional amount over what the car was worth. I was out my car, plus had to pay for a major repair. Is there any recourse for a missed/inaccurate diagnosis, after you’ve paid the bill? Or was there anything I could’ve done to avoid paying the bill in the first place?
AnswerThe first advice in this situation is to ask the service manager or mechanic if this will fix what you brought the car in for and if there is any chance that there may be other problems. Then always (ALWAYS) ask to see the old parts or have them back. The shop has to keep these parts BY LAW for three days even if you do not request them back. Once you have decided to have the repair work done and if a problem arises ask to see the manager or owner. If you are not satisfied with the results then the next step is to document every detail, so that nothing is left to chance, and call the MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF STATE at 1-888-767-6424. This number should be posted on the repair shops waiting room or office wall. The State of Michigan will get involved and contact the shop for you. If they are not able to resolve it with the shop owner they may ask you to take the vehicle to a service center the state chooses and have the repairs evaluated, then decide what the outcome should be.
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QuestionDifferential Bad - Front (SUV):  I just had the front end differential in my 2002 Trailblazer go bad. I was told the bolt was loose and the oil drained out. How major of a repair is this and what could cause the end to be loosened, when I haven’t had any service done to it? Thanks, Denise of Fenton, MI.
AnswerDenise, these types of trucks have a high failure rate with front differential problems. Usually it starts with not being able to engage the front axle due to a shift motor problem, but there are a number of complaints with this type of four wheel drive system in general. As for the loose bolt it may be from vibration or just never properly installed and it took this long to get loose enough to cause a problem. One other thing you may want to do on this vehicle is to have the transfer case fluid changed as it too has been known to cause some problems. The fluid is expensive but much less than the repairs and can only be bought at a GM dealer as far as I know.
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QuestionTune Ups:  How often should I get a tune-up on my car?
AnswerThis varies from one vehicle to the next with most of todays newer cars having 100,000 mile spark plugs in them. It is best to read your owners manual but other items included in your maintenance should be checked or replaced much sooner! Some examples are fuel filter, air filter, serpentine belt, pcv valve, and cabin air filter. Most of these items should need replacement at around 30,000 miles.
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QuestionParking on Incline in Cold Temps:  When parking on an incline in cold temps overnight, should the engine face uphill or downhill for a cold morning start?
AnswerThe answer to this is uphill so that your motor oil is toward the pick-up screen or sump for the oil pump. Also it is best to face the car away from the wind or park it with the front end close to a building or structure to block the wind from the engine as much as possible.
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QuestionSerpentine Belt:  How do I know when to replace my serpentine belt?
AnswerThe best way to tell is when you look at the belt if there are several small cracks on the groove side. This is the best indicator but some belts will get loaded with debris also and begin making noise which is another reason to replace the belt. One more thing to always check when looking at your belt is the tensioner assembly. It should spring back smoothly and not have a large gap where it pivots.
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QuestionAlignment - Recurring Problems:  I have a 2008 Chevy Impala and my alignment keeps going out every couple of months. The dealer says that it’s because I live on a dirt road. I rarely ever go over 20mph down my road because of the bumps. Is there anything else that could cause my car to be going out of alignment so often?
AnswerThis is a hard question to answer because I am not sure of what is actually off when they re-align your car. I talked to some friends at Holly Tire and Auto and they had some good input. Ben mentioned possible loose cradle bolts and this made a lot of sense to me. Alan said he would like to try to help as well. The next time you need an alignment bring it to him and he would be able to put it on their alignment machine and see exactly what is out of spec. Hopefully they can find the answer. They have had years of experience with this and they do our alignments as well. We do not see this happen with as many customers living on dirt roads, even with older cars, and we hope not to.
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QuestionBack Firing:  I’m experiencing problems with my engine back firing. What could be wrong?
AnswerThe most common cause for this is ignition related failures, such as plugs, wires, ignition coil, distributor cap or rotor. But this could also be caused by not enough fuel (running lean), vacuum leak, ignition timing, or a faulty sensor.
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QuestionHeater Not Working:  I have a ‘97 Ford Taurus and the heater is not working, although the fan comes on and it blows out cold air. I replaced the thermostat, still the same problem. It doesn’t overheat and the air works fine. Any suggestions on what to check or replace? Louise of Holly, Mi
AnswerLouise, I suspect a plugged heater core on your car. There is a simple way to check for this if your heater hoses are easy to get to near the outside of the dash. Run the car to operating temp and feel both heater hoses. If one is hot and the other is cool or just luke warm then the heater core is most likely restricted and may be able to be flushed out. Other possibilities are heater control valve or blend door.
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QuestionFuel Types/Octane:  I travel mostly city roads, with a lot of stop and go. Does it matter which type of gas I use for my car?
AnswerI personally use the lowest cost fuel I can but some auto makers have specific octane ratings they recommend you put in your car and some even recommend the lower octane fuel for certain models, the best advice is to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and if you hear a pinging or spark knock sound when you accelerate try going up to the next higher grade fuel to see if it helps.
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QuestionWinterize:  What are your suggestions for getting my vehicle ready for this winter?
AnswerI recommend having your coolant tested for strength, your belts and hoses as well as all fluids checked for proper level, you should also have your tire tread depth checked and tire pressures adjusted. Check our web site and coupon ads for our free winter inspection coupon available this month. P.S. Don't forget to turn on your heater and rear defroster now to make sure they are working properly before it gets too cold and you really need them.
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QuestionTransmission Flush:  How often should I flush out the automatic transmission fluid in my car?
AnswerThe answer to this is to follow your manufacturers recommended interval and your driving habits. If you do a lot of hauling, towing, or plowing snow you should do this more often than recommended by the manufacturer. Most vehicles are 48,000 miles but some are more. I personally recommend 48,000 miles myself.
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QuestionStarting Problems:  James in Holly, MI Asks - 90 Lumina car 3.1 not starting, coughs, new fuel pump, fuel regulator, ignition module, crank sensor, throttle position sensor, acts like no fuel, inlet 72psi, out 47psi, within spec. Any ideas?
AnswerJames, I have seen a lot of these cars with one or two bad fuel injectors that have low resistance cause a problem like yours. The way to test them is with an ohm meter. The resistance on all injectors should all be about 11.8 to 12.6 ohms. If any are very low this will cause a problem since they are bank fired (meaning there are three on the same circuit that pulse at the same time). Any one being bad will stop all three from working. As for your fuel pressure it should be 40.5 to 47.0 psi with key on and engine off and drop 3.0 to 10.0 less when you start the car. P.S Try to unplug the injector right next to the oil fill cap since it is the only one you can get to without lifting the upper intake. Then try to start the engine and if it starts then you have at least one bad injector, not necessarily the one you unplugged though. Please respond and let me know what you find out. chris@wilkinsonautorepair.com
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QuestionShifting Hard:  When my car warms up it shifts hard. What could be wrong?
AnswerThis could indicate a transmission problem and should be checked as soon as possible. There are other things that may be the cause as well such as throttle position sensor and coolant temp sensor not working properly. This is definitely something you do not want to let go for too long as it could get very expensive if the transmission completely fails.
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QuestionHills - Power Loss:  My car drives along smoothly at 55 mph on level ground but as soon as I start to take it up a hill it cuts back to around 35 mph. I can even get a running start at 65 mph, but the car does the same thing, it bogs down on the uphill incline. What could be the problem?
AnswerThe possible causes are plugged/dirty fuel filter, weak fuel pump, faulty map or mass air sensor, transmission slipping, restricted exhaust or faulty ignition component such as plugs, wires distributor cap or rotor, restricted/dirty air filter and last but not cheapest is a timing belt or chain off by a notch or two. All of these are easily checked as well as a few more possibility’s by a qualified repair shop or mechanic with the proper tools and knowledge.
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QuestionEngine Stutter:  I have a stick shift, since the weather has become warmer my engine has been stuttering like it has the hiccups. Why is it doing that?
AnswerI would need to know if this is happening when you let the clutch out to pull away from a light or if it is at idle or driving down the road. If it is while pulling away from a stop, then it may be hot spots on your flywheel. You would have to have it resurfaced or replaced and a new clutch, pressure plate and release bearing installed. If it occurs while driving, it may be an engine misfire and would be more pronounced going up a hill or incline in the road.
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QuestionStalls When Idling:  I have a problem keeping my engine running when it is idling, it keeps stalling out. What can I do?
AnswerWell depending on if your car is older and carburated or modern and fuel injected this could be as simple as a vacuum leak or dirty throttle bore, try listening for a whistle noise from the engine and look at the vacuum hoses very carefully for cracking or swelling.
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QuestionTire Rotation:  How often should I rotate my tires?                                                          
AnswerThe recommended interval is every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or every oil change.                                                      
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QuestionWarm Up Slow:  My car takes a long time to warm up during the winter, the air that blows thru the vents is cool. What do you think is wrong?
AnswerThis should be a simple one as the most common cause is a stuck open thermostat but some thermostats are in very difficult places on newer cars. Other possible causes for this are fan clutch being seized (usually accompanied by extra noise or vibration on the engine area) or an electric cooling fan staying on all of the time.
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QuestionFuel Bad:  What should you do if you get bad gas in your engine?
AnswerThis depends on if the gas is just old, has some water in it or if it is comtaminated with the wrong fuel or something worse like the old sugar in the tank thing. If it is making the car run bad or not run at all I suggest getting the gas tank drained, fuel lines and injectors flushed and a new fuel filter installed, in extreme cases you may need to replace the fuel injectors as they have very small screens in them that can get plugged and cause serious problems that flushing will not solve. If it is a minor case of just some water in the gas or old gas you can get some dry gas (Isopropyl alcohol) from most parts stores and fuel injector cleaner, top off of your tank with premium fuel and a new fuel filter to take care of it.
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QuestionTurn Signals Intermittent:  My blinkers only work part time. What's wrong?
AnswerPossible causes for this are a bad turn signal switch, flasher relay, a faulty light bulb or connection. When this happens try moving the switch up and down to see if they start working, this would indicate faulty contacts in the switch, a bad ignition switch can sometimes cause this as well but is usually accompanied by other electrical components not working.
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QuestionFront End Noise & Steering Sloppy:  My front end is making a squeaky noise when I go over a bump and my steering is sloppy. What could be the problem?
AnswerThis could be a steering or a suspension problem and should be checked right away, ball joints, tie rod ends can cause you to loose control of your vehicle and will squeak when there is no grease in them, the sloppy steering is what I would be mostly concerned with as it indicates a steering linkage problem. The other items to look at are stabilizer bar links / bushings, control arm bushings, struts and strut mounts.
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QuestionBrake Maintenance:  How do you know when you need to change your brakes?
AnswerHave your brakes looked at or replaced if you feel a pulsating when you are stopping, hear a grinding or squeal and also if your car wants to pull to one side while braking. Metalic brake pads will sometimes squeal when stopping but not cause any problems or need to be replaced unless it is excessive, also if you feel your brake pedal going lower than normal sinking while you are stopped or the red brake light comes on it is time to check your brake fluid and get in for service right away.
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QuestionOil Change Intervals:  Do you really need to change the oil every 3,000 miles?
AnswerActually this depends on your driving habits, if you drive mostly long highway miles then every 5,000 miles is ok and some manufactures will go as high as 7,000 miles but I recommend at least every 5,000. If you drive mostly city stop and go driving, haul heavy loads or pull a trailer then I would recommend ever y 3,000 miles for sure, synthetic oil will also increase the miles you can drive between oil changes by about 3,000 miles over conventional motor oil.
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QuestionNew Car Maintenance:  I just purchased a new car. What regular maintenance should I do to make sure that this car will last me as long as possible?
AnswerThe first and most obvious is keeping the oil changed based on your type of driving (city/highway) and making sure that the filters and other fluids as well as tire pressure and rotation are preformed per your manufacture recommendations, it is a good thing to have a mechanic or shop you can trust that will look for things during service that may not be felt or heard but can be seen while on a hoist during an inspection. Also there are technical service bulletins that are published on vehicles that most repair shops can look up for you that show pattern problems and failures for your specific vehicle.
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QuestionBrake Pedal Pressure:  Does the amount of pressure applied to the brake pedal effect the lifetime of the brake pads?
AnswerYes the harder you apply the brakes the hotter the rotors get as well as the pads, this will decrease the life of the brake pads and also could wrap the rotors causing a brake pulsation or squealing. The best way to extend the life of your brake pads and rotors is to ease into stops slowly applying and releasing the brake pedal as you come to a stop especially on a downhill grade this gives the brakes and rotors a moment to cool off.
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QuestionAlternator Sparks:  I recently was tightening my positive battery cable when I touched the alternator at the same time. It shot off sparks and burned part of the alternator blade. I tried starting the car afterwards. The first three or four times it started but it kept putting out. Now it won't start. It turns over fine as if it wants to start but it won’t fully start.
AnswerFirst, check all of your fuses, there are many in today’s vehicles. Some are easily found, but you may need an owner’s manual to locate others. There are also fusible links (a strand of wire made to separate when overloaded) that do not look like a fuse, but serve the same purpose — circuit protection. This type of problem on a modern vehicle can cause computer type failures but is rare with all of the circuit protection devices in place.
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