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Rust usually excluded from warranties

Rust usually excluded from warranties

Q. I read with interest your recent column regarding the Santa Fe and rust, which is a related issue with my 2003 Santa Fe. In December I spent almost $2,300 at the Hyundai dealership replacing the front exhaust pipe assembly, which had rusted out and fallen off the car. When I took it to my regular mechanic in January for an oil change and checkup, he told me the rust on the bottom of the car -- brake backing plates, gas tank shield, etc. -- was so bad it looked like the car had 300,000 miles on it instead of the 90,000+ miles it does have. I still have a few thousand miles left and about six months on my 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty. Do I have any recourse to get the car repaired or the rust problem addressed before the whole car falls apart? I believe there have been multiple lawsuits against Hyundai on the rust issue in "Salt Belt" states but not much came of it. Your recommendation?   A. Thanks for reading the column and sorry you are having all those issues w ... read more

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Douglas Q&A

Mice can do significant damage to autos

Mice can do significant damage to autos

We have seen several cars brought into the shop this year with rodent damage. I don't know if this is because of the extremely long and cold winter we experienced here in the Chicago area but, whatever the reason, we have seen more of this damage recently than in years past. The damage has ranged from fairly minor, about $200 in repairs, all the way up to more than $1,500 worth of repairs. On the minor side, typically you find a nest under the hood and then some wiring to one of the sensors on the engine has been chewed through. After we clean out all of the nest material and repair the wiring, the vehicle is usually good to go. We always check the air filter box and the cabin air filter for more debris because they can get in there, too. The car that suffered the worst damage, by far, was a Mustang. It was parked in a garage for several months while the owner was out of state over the winter. The damage under the hood was minor compared to what was done on the inside of the c ... read more

Loose wire remains elusive for a decade

Loose wire remains elusive for a decade

Q. I purchased a new 2000 Lincoln Cartier Town Car. Within a few years, the whole system just stopped; no air, no heat, no blower. For about the last ten years, this has continued about every three to six months after service by the Lincoln dealer. New modules, new blower, new wire, etc. This June when in Michigan, it again went out. The Lincoln dealer put in another module and it worked fine for one day. I took it back to the same dealer, and when they opened the hood and touched a wire in front of the firewall, the system started up. So he replaced the wire The car worked fine until I sold it to a friend of mine three weeks ago. Guess what? It went out again. After about a week, it started to work again. This pattern of working and then not, driving a half-hour or sometimes a day or two before things are fine, has been going on for years and has the Lincoln mechanics stumped. Have you had any problems like this with the Town Cars? By the way, the car had 222,000 miles on it when I ... read more

"What causes engine 'tick'”

"What causes engine 'tick'”

Q. When I first start my car in the morning, I hear a ticking noise coming from the engine. It's a 2003 Ford Escape Limited with a V-6 engine and 70,000 miles. It goes away after 30 seconds or less and doesn't do it upon subsequent warm startups, like after a visit to the grocery store. I've changed oil on a routine basis, but just to be sure I didn't get inferior oil or the wrong weight put in on the last oil change, I had it changed again at the Ford dealer using their super blend oil. That didn't help -- it still does the "ticking" noise on cold starts. Is this something serious to worry about? I've heard differing opinions. What could be the problem and how can I get it properly diagnosed? A. Good question, John! It really depends on how severe the noise is and how long it lasts. It sounds, from your description, like you have a lifter or two that is bleeding down when the car sits overnight. When you start it cold it takes a few seconds for the ... read more

Categories:

Oil Changes

Tire pressure systems

Tire pressure systems

Q. I worked for an automotive center and I'm wondering if TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) is really necessary as opposed to traditional valve stems for automobile tires. Considering the fragility of TPMS units and the product cost and expense associated with replacing them, are motorists paying unnecessarily high replacement costs for an item that has little or marginal value for a car?   A. There is no doubt about the fact that the TPMS can become a considerable additional expense when dealing with tires on today's cars. Let's spend a minute and talk about the negatives of TPMS and then we'll talk about the positives. We'll start with the fact that it is a government mandate. The push for TPMS started when we had the Firestone tire recall in the late 1990s. The Clinton administration enacted the Tread Act that required TPMS technology to be phased in starting in 2005. By 2008 the whole U.S. fleet weighing less than 10,000 pounds was outfitted with TP ... read more

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Tires

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Tires

Stalls can be related to coolant loss

Stalls can be related to coolant loss

Q. My wife and I live in Alexandria, Minn. and were passing through Chicago on May 29. I bought the Daily Herald and saw your auto article about a 1996 Lincoln Town Car that would die when temperatures rose above 70 degrees. My daughter, who lives in Atlanta, has a 1998 Buick Regal that seems to be doing the same thing. It has the 3800 engine with 217,000 miles on the odometer. Sometimes it kills or abruptly hesitates upon acceleration or sometimes seems to sputter under load while going uphill. During the winter in Atlanta it hardly ever happened. However when it gets more warm and humid the frequency increases. Sometimes it kills on her when making a turn. We have suspected the MAF sensor, which to my knowledge has been an issue with that car but have not tried changing it. The fuel filter has about 16,000 miles on it. When the car gets to cruising speed it seems to run absolutely fine so I don't suspect a fuel filter issue. There is no check engine light that indicates a code s ... read more

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Coolant

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Coolant

New tires are better served on the back of your car

New tires are better served on the back of your car

Q. Why would the tire store have put two new tires on the back of my car when it is a front wheel drive vehicle? It seems to me you would want the better traction in the front of the car going into winter. A. It does seem counter intuitive but they did the right thing. Whether it is front-wheel drive or not and you are only replacing two tires, you always put them on the back of the car. The reason they go on the back is for safety while stopping. If you have your best traction on the front and you go into a panic stop or a hard stop on slippery pavement, there is a possibility the front of the car could stop faster than the back causing a bad skid. So for safety and liability purposes, the tire manufacturers require new tires be put on the rear of the car

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Tires

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tires

Winter tires best on performance cars

Winter tires best on performance cars

Q. I have a BMW rear-wheel drive car and last year I really struggled to drive the car when the roads got snowy. It was actually scary to drive because it did not want to stop -- and the acceleration was really bad, as well. The car seems fine on dry roads. Do I just need new tires?   A. This is a great question and I actually had this same experience with a BMW I owned at one time. The tires still had some tread on them but the car was undrivable in the snow. I chose to buy a set of winter tires on all four wheels and it was amazing how well the car handled in the snow. You will probably get some traction with a new set of regular tires but I highly recommend a set of winter tires for your car to get maximum performance. This advice holds for any performance car with a low-profile tire. I recommend buying winter tires already mounted on another set of wheels so you don't have to mount and balance tires twice a year. It is much better for the tires not to take them on an ... read more

Categories:

Tires

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Tires

Injector cleaners do help in the long run

Injector cleaners do help in the long run

Q. I try not to miss your column in the Daily Herald. It is very informative. You have helped me with questions about my 2000 Jaguar in the past and I thank you for that. The new question I have is a general one. Where do you stand, or do you wish to comment, on the many additives sold by auto supply stores (i.e. STP, injector cleaners, etc.)? The only one I have tried is an injector cleaner and I can't really tell if it did anything. I am ready to winterize my car using the information in your last column.   A. Thank you for being a loyal reader. I really appreciate it and I am glad you have found the information I have shared helpful. As you have indicated, there are many additives on the market and they all claim to be the best, so it can be a bit confusing. When it comes to fuel injector cleaners, here is my advice. First, use a good quality Top Tier Fuel. You can find a list of these gasoline brands on the internet under Toptiergas.com. If you have do not have a gas ... read more

How low is too low in your gas tank?

How low is too low in your gas tank?

Q. I enjoy reading your column in the Daily Herald and have a question. You mentioned that letting the gas level get too low can result in damage to the fuel pump. My question is: How low is too low? I usually don't let the level drop below one-eighth of a tank just to ensure that I don't run out. Is that a sufficient safety factor?   A. Thanks for reading the column and taking time to write. I love getting questions from drivers like you who are interested in taking good care of their cars. You are probably OK at one-eighth of a tank but I would start thinking about getting gas when the gauge reads one-quarter tank; this way if you don't get to the gas station right away, there is a good chance you won't go below one-eighth. Additionally, if you get caught in a traffic jam and one-eighth of a tank is not enough, you could run out. And don't wait until the next day; the price might go up like it did recently when I waited until it was more convenient in th ... read more

Categories:

fuel

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gas
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