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Motoring Q&A

Q: We have a 2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 diesel that we love except for one thing. Sometimes when you start the car, the radio dash lights do not come on, which means the radio isn’t working along with that no air conditioning, no power windows and no garage door opener. Then everything magicall…

October 05, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

How good is recycled oil?

Q: What is your take on 50 percent recycled oil? Stores are offering more of this oil. Is it just as good as new oil? Or should I stay with 100 percent new oil?

September 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Flickering lights may be due to heat effect

Q: I have a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LT. Since May, my interior lights have been going on and off sporadically. When I go over bumps, they flicker. In the morning on my way to work, they are completely off.

August 03, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Heavier oil can prolong high-mileage engine's life

Q: I own a 1994 GMC 3/4-ton van with a 350 engine. In the past year, the oil pressure has been low, just above the red, and the low warning indicator is on at idle. When I speed up, the pressure goes up. I change the oil every 4,000 miles.

June 01, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

It's the owner's call: Fixing truck is not a legal or ethical decision

Q: Recently my daughter's friend bumped into my 1996 Dodge Dakota and did $1,200 worth of damage. I promised my family and the body shop I would get it fixed. Some people say I should just keep the money. Is that legal? Or just unethical? Or neither?

May 04, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Ford Escape has baffling rattle at 1,500 rpm

Q: I am banking on you solving this problem. We purchased our 2010 Ford Escape XLT/AWD 4-cylinder new in March 2010. Four months later, a rattle developed when traveling at 1,500 rpm. The rattle is heard underneath the vehicle but doesn't occur all the time. The rattle can be heard over the …

March 02, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

2001 Lexus transmission catches while in reverse

Q: I'm having a problem with the automatic transmission in my '01 Lexus ES with 125,000 miles on it. The reverse gear hesitates when I shift into reverse, catches, hesitates again, then catches and moves the car. The problem is not present when the engine is cold but appears after warm-up. I…

January 05, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Maxima should be OK if diesel fuel was flushed

Q: I have a 2009 3.5-liter Nissan Maxima with 39,000 miles. Recently I filled the car with 16 gallons of premium fuel, drove about 50 miles and returned home. Later that day, my car wouldn't run. We discovered that the fuel tank at the gas station had been filled with diesel fuel. My car was…

November 03, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

If it doesn't start at first, look for fuel pressure leak

Q: I have a '94 Geo Tracker with the 1.6-liter engine. After the car sits overnight, it never seems to start on the first turn of the key. On the second turn of the key, it seems to start right away with no problems. I'm concerned about this because with winter coming, I'm afraid it might pu…

September 01, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Motoring Q&A: Mountaineer owner seeks origin of screech, tapping noise

Q: I have a 2006 Mercury Mountaineer with a 4.6-liter V8 that makes a screeching noise along with a tapping noise upon a cold start. I removed the serpentine belt and started the engine, and the same thing happens. When the engine is warm, the tapping noise is not noticeable but the screech …

August 04, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Compressor may not be the problem with malfunctioning AC

Q: Is it possible for an air-conditioning compressor to go bad so quickly? Our daughter bought a 2007 Nissan Altima with 72,000 miles last August from a dealership, and now the AC doesn't work. She was told the compressor is dead. She'll get a second opinion, but I'm also wondering what your…

July 07, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Don't replace struts at 70K miles unless they're clearly failing

Q: I purchased a 2008 Buick Lucerne new, and it now has 68,000 miles. For the past 10,000 miles or so, a rattle or clunk noise has been coming from the front when it's driven over any kind of bump. It sounds like something is loose in the front end.

June 02, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Take a closer look to see if vehicle's truly overheating

Q: My daughter drives a 1998 Dodge Stratus ES with more than 120,000 miles. Recently, the engine started overheating. At highway speeds, the engine operates within the normal temperature range. At city speeds, however, the engine quickly overheats.

May 05, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Scan tool can find reason for failure of dome light to turn off

Q: I have a 2009 Ford Focus with 50,000 miles on it. Yesterday, the interior dome light came on while I was driving, and now it does not turn off. It does not turn off with the headlights or with the manual on/off switch, and it does not dim after a few seconds upon leaving the car. It final…

April 07, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Brake/shift interlock likely cause of shift woe

Q: I own a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe with just 9,000 miles on it. When I start the engine, I cannot shift it out of park unless I shut the engine off and start over - then it works. Also, the ignition locks up. The dealer told me to turn both the steering wheel and the ignition key clockwise at …

March 03, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

'Rotten eggs' coming from converter

Q: I took my 2010 Buick in because of a rotten-egg smell. They said to change gas stations and use better gas. I think it's something else.

February 04, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

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