Yearly Archives: 2017

Timing is Everything For Timing Belts

Timing is Everything For Timing Belts

​Q. I have a Nissan Maxima and was told I should replace my timing belt and water pump. I have owned the car since it had about 42,000 miles on it and have been good about keeping the oil changed. Other than tires and brakes it has not needed much service. It has 122,000 miles on it now and runs fantastic; I don't understand why I need to spend $800 to have this work done when I am not having any problems? A. I am glad to hear that you have had such good luck with your Maxima. My advice would be to replace the timing belt if you want to keep having good luck. If you wait until you need one (the belt breaks) you most likely will be spending over $2,000 to do the belt and repair the bent valves. A timing belt is made out of rubber and over time it deteriorates to the point where it can break. Most manufacturers have a maintenance interval ranging from 60,000 miles to 105,000 miles. Your Nissan is overdue; how overdue depends on the year of the car. The reason you will want to ... read more

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Douglas Q&A

Having Steering Wheel Issues?

Having Steering Wheel Issues?

​Q. When I turn my steering wheel right or left it makes noises. What could that problem be? I had it worked on last summer and a steering arm was replaced, but the noise is back again and very irritating. This happens intermittently, but more often than not. The temperature can be hot or cold; it does not seem to matter. When I drive down the road I hear this noise around the wheel area. It is very noticeable. Last summer I had the bushings replaced and the noise is back again and very irritating. I feel I am taken to the cleaners by mechanics and would appreciate your help. Suggestions? A. I am not sure if you are talking about two different noises or the same noise, but it sounds like you have a dried-out ball joint or tie rod end. These are steering and suspension components that used to be greaseable but in most cases today they do not have fittings that can be greased. You will have to have someone isolate which one it is and most likely it will have to be replaced. Occas ... read more

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Douglas Q&A

Best Car Advice Comes From Shop Owners

Best Car Advice Comes From Shop Owners

I've had a lot of calls lately from my clients either looking to buy or sell a car or truck. Have you considered speaking to your repair shop when you are in the market to purchase a replacement vehicle or sell your existing one? It's a great place to go for either of these transactions. When you are looking to buy, your shop may not only know of a client who is looking to sell, but you will be able to buy with confidence knowing no one will know the car or truck better than those at the shop who serviced it. They will have records for when various services were performed and would most likely pass any service guarantees on to you as the new owner. When you are looking to sell your car, no one knows it better than your shop and staff may just have a buyer looking for a car like yours. Everybody wins and the new owner can drive away with confidence. I always encourage my clients who are purchasing a replacement vehicle, if they don't know anything about it, to bring it i ... read more

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Douglas Q&A

Fuel Efficiency Tips For The Summer

Fuel Efficiency Tips For The Summer

  Summer is here which means more traveling for you and your whole family. Fuel efficiency is on our minds more when we are driving more. Most of us can't just dash out and buy a new, more economical car. Also, for many of us, a smaller economy car just does not meet the needs of our family or business. In reality, replacing a good reliable car just to gain a few miles per gallon may not be the most economical or environmentally friendly move anyway. Today I thought I would offer some tips that can help you get the most out of every gallon of gas for the vehicle you drive now. Let's start with the basics like tire pressure, since low tires can rob you of several miles per gallon. For every 1-pound drop in pressure on all four tires, you increase your rolling resistance by 1.4 percent. Based on that, you can see how being down several pounds on air pressure can increase rolling resistance by quite a bit. Look on the door sticker of your vehicle for the proper inflat ... read more

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fuel

Decisions, Decisions Decisions- Ethanol

Decisions, Decisions Decisions- Ethanol

Q: Hello Doug. Love your column every Sunday in the Daily Herald; it's helped me out a few times so thanks. I have a question regarding grades of gasoline. We travel to Iowa about 1-2 times a month. At one gas station, they sell gas with 10% ethanol and gas without ethanol. The price difference is 40 cents more for ethanol-free. Is there an advantage of using ethanol free as far as performance and mileage, assuming a car gets about 30 mpg? A: Thanks for the question. I don't know for sure if you would see a significant enough performance or mileage increase to offset the 40 cents per gallon. You may want to try it once and see if you notice any improvement. Today's cars tolerate the 10% ethanol fine; it is when you put the 15% or higher in where you could start having problems unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. I do not recommend using the E15 in your car or truck unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. Using fuel with 15% or higher ethanol could damage your vehicle and in fact, i ... read more

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fuel

Don't Cut Corners on Brake Lines

Don't Cut Corners on Brake Lines

Q: I have a 2001 Ford Pickup Truck that I am getting ready to sell, and I noticed that the brake line going to the rear is wet with fluid. Is there a way to splice in a line or is there a cheaper way to repair than to replace the line? A: Unfortunately, you will need to replace the line. Anytime you are dealing with the hydraulic side of the brake system, you don’t want to cut any corners. If you have a brake line blow out on braking, it could be catastrophic. The proper repair would be to replace all rusted brake lines as well as flushing out the system with new brake fluid. This type of repair can run between $500 - $1000 depending on how much of the systems will need to be replaced. On some vehicles, the brake lines and the fuel lines are bundled together; the minute you touch one of those lines, the others can be compromised and begin to leak, so be prepared. We have a big problem with this on older cars as they have been exposed to so many winter seasons with all the road s ... read more

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Brakes

Keep that Light Shining Bright - Headlight Restoration

Keep that Light Shining Bright - Headlight Restoration

The headlight lenses on my 2001 Honda Odyssey have clouded over the years, and I have had them professionally restored/polished to make them clear. I have also done the restoration polishing twice myself. While I have been successful in restoring the lenses to almost new condition each time, my questions are: 1) What causes the lenses to cloud over time—is it UV exposure, chemical exposure or something else? 2) Is there something I can do to prevent, reduce or mitigate the cause of the plastic getting cloudy? 3) Since the headlight restoration product I use (Rain-X Headlight Restorer) acts like a mild abrasive, is there a limit to how many times I can use this product until I wear out or damage the headlight lens to the point where polishing will not work anymore? I have two newer cars in the family that have not shown any headlight lens clouding yet, and I would like to do what I can to avoid having to keep on polishing the lenses. What do you suggest?   Doug:  Gre ... read more

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Headlights

Don't Forget: Inspecting Your Trailer is Important Too

Don't Forget: Inspecting Your Trailer is Important Too

As you start thinking about summertime, now that it’s finally arriving, you might want to get your trailer inspected before the summer trailering season begins. Whether it be a boat, Jet Ski, camper or just a utility trailer, they can get neglected. It is easy to forget that the lights, tires, brakes and wheel bearings should be serviced at least once per year. Boat and Jet Ski trailers especially get abused because of being backed into the water to launch the watercraft. This can be very hard on the wheel bearings and the lighting. The wheel bearings should be cleaned thoroughly and inspected for pitting. If they are good, they should be repacked and reinstalled with new grease seals. If there is any pitting on the bearing, it should be replaced with a new bearing and race. If the trailer has brakes, make sure they are cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. You will want to check all the lighting and wiring, and make any repairs that are needed; every light should work. Finally, in ... read more

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Trailer

Keep Your Car Cool this Summer - Check Your Air Conditioner

Keep Your Car Cool this Summer - Check Your Air Conditioner

Your car’s air conditioning system, you love it, you depend on it, so if you don’t want to find yourself sweltering in the summer heat, maintain it. The rule of thumb is to have your vehicle’s A/C unit checked by a trusted mechanic once a year BEFORE anything goes wrong...and there are several things that can go wrong. If your A/C is blowing less cold air than it used to, that could signal a couple of things. It may just need to be recharged with more refrigerant. Your mechanic can recharge the system to levels specifically for your vehicle to have it blowing icy cold again. Typically, he or she will also test the system for leaks. A leak could be coming from your A/C line or from the compressor.  A line leak is easy enough to fix, but if it’s your A/C’s compressor, it could be a leak or a complete fail if the oil in it has depleted. If it is the compressor, you’ll need to have it replaced. It’s an expense you can avoid by taking your ... read more

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Air Conditioner

Car Owner Frustrated with String of Alternators

Car Owner Frustrated with String of Alternators

Q. I have a 1992 Toyota Corolla with 105,000 miles on it. I am the second owner. I bought it used at around 40,000 miles. The concern I have is that I have replaced the alternator three times with an aftermarket alternator in the last five years, and when I looked at the history of the vehicle, I noticed the alternator was also replaced twice while the vehicle was under warranty with the original alternator. Any idea if there is something that could cause the alternators to go bad? Or was there a problem with the alternators on these vehicles? The only thing that seems odd to me on the vehicle is that when the turn signal is blinking (when other accessories are turned on -- headlights, wipers, etc.), the vehicle's RPMs seems to surge.   A. I could not find any pattern failures for your car on the charging system. The only thing I can suggest is to make sure you are getting a good quality alternator and that you have the shop check that every positive connection is goo ... read more

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Alternator
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