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My heavy-duty battery often runs down

Q: I have a 2005 MR-2 Spyder, made in the last year Toyota made that model. I love the car, but don’t drive it very often, since it has only 15,000 miles or so on it. As a consequence, the heavy-duty battery often runs down. I’ve been told that part of the reason is not only the convertible’s infrequent use, but the fact that it was equipped originally with a Mobile Guardian system which aids in vehicle recovery and remotely disabling the vehicle. This system has never been used, but surely must help draw down the battery. I have asked several garages to disconnect this system, but no one is willing to do that. Do you have any suggestions that will help? Thanks for your help. Robert L. A: The alarm system should not be creating enough of an electrical draw to drain the battery, unless the car is being driven very infrequently (such as only once every few months). I would recommend you take the vehicle into a qualified service ce ... read more

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Radiator fan motor, underhood fuse box and front harness all has to be replaced?

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General

Radiator fan motor, underhood fuse box and front harness all has to be replaced?

Q: I recently took your advice in reference to getting a second opinion (re: article of 04/15/09). I had my 2000 Cadillac Seville serviced on 03/24/09. From a previous problem I also expressed my concern over coolant leakage and minor overheating of the engine when operating the car at slow, sustained speeds in heavy traffic. I was informed the radiator fan motor, under hood fuse box and front harness all had to be replaced to the tune of $2,500. I also received a warning not to drive too far! The second opinion I sought on 03/30/09 from an AAA approved, ASE Certified auto repair shop informed me that the suggested repairs were not needed and everything was working properly Ironically, since I received the first suggested repair estimate on 03/24/09, I have had no problems with coolant leaking or overheating. Could it be that the car healed itself? I have put on ... read more

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What service is essential for a 5-year-old car with 25,000 miles on it?

Q: I have a 2004 DeVille which I intend to keep as it is a great car and a beauty as well. I always have traded for new cars whenever the warranty expired so I never worried about service other than oil changes and lube jobs. My question is, what service is essential for a 5-year-old car with 25,000 miles on it? A: We do encourage car owners to keep up with their scheduled maintenance. Not only can it extend the vehicle life, it may also increase fuel efficiency. And, a properly maintained vehicle may also have a better resale value. At 25,000 miles, we would recommend the following services: Coolant flush Transmission flush Check belts and hoses and replace if needed Air induction service to clean the throttle body and keep the fuel burning clean and restore original power Fuel injection It’s important to remember that while these services would be appropriate for most makes and models, you shou ... read more

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Warning display screen indicated that the car was low on engine coolant and was overheating

Q: I drive a 2000 Cadillac Seville with approximately 100,000 miles on it. Recently, the warning display screen indicated that the car was low on engine coolant and overheating of the vehicle was subsequently occurring. The dealer suggested that I either replace the radiator or water pump. I opted for the new radiator since the water pump and thermostat had been replaced at 55,000 miles. The problem, however, continued and a new water pump and thermostat were installed. Still, the problem persisted and you guessed it, the coolant reservoir had to be replaced. That solved the problem. Is there a test other than trial and error to determine where coolant is leaking? I enjoy your column and look forward to your answer and comments.” Thanks in advance. Ken G. A: Coolant leaks require a visual inspection to locate them. It is a simple procedure using a tool called a “Coolant Pressure Tester.” If a vehicle comes in with a coolant leak, the first thing we do is ... read more

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How do I know I am getting quality service from my car mechanic?

Q: How do I know I am getting quality service from my car mechanic? With these tough economic times, is my mechanic adding unnecessary items to the repair list of my car? A: Ask around-starting with neighbors and friends-and find out where they go and don’t go. I would always look for a place that has ASE certified technicians. ASE certifies the competency of individual technicians through a series of standardized specialty exams (brakes, steering & suspension engine repair, etc.). A reputable repair shop representative should be able to explain what kind of work they are recommending and why. They should also advise you if the repair work is preventative maintenance or something that is safety or break-down related. Keeping good records will also help you determine what might have already been done on your vehicle so you can inform the technician accordingly. Once you have chosen a repair shop, a professional auto repair business and technician will alwa ... read more

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I heard a “whining” sound under the hood

Q: I have a 2005 Chevy Tahoe that did not give any strange sound until a year ago when I heard a “whining” sound under the hood. I took the Tahoe to the dealership and complained about the annoying sound. They purported they did not hear the sound I was talking about. So I let it go since it did not affect the performance of the engine. At times the whining sound will abate somewhat and then again it will be noticeably profound. Your expert opinion is much appreciated as to the cause of this sound and will it affect the engine’s performance in the long run? Thank you very much. A: Noises are the hardest– especially if they are intermittent. It’s very difficult to speculate what it is or whether you should drive or not until the noise is heard and diagnosed. Alternators make noise when over-charging, transmissions along with belt pulleys make noise… basically anything that spins can make a noise that might not sound normal. My suggestion would be (if you can) to dro ... read more

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Is a 3 year auto warranty best for me?

Q: I have a 2001 Buick LeSabre with 89,200 miles on it, and I would like to know if a 3- year auto warranty is best as I would like to keep the car for that long. Could you please advise me on a company that could give me a reasonable price and good options, possibly thru the internet or locally. Thank you for all your help. A: Rather than recommend particular companies, it’s probably best to discuss what you should be looking for in any warranty to help you make a decision on where to buy, and the best value for your money. There are many good auto warranties but as with anything, there are definitely bad ones. What you should look for is how long the warranty company has been in business and are they backed by a reputable parent company. The price and coverage are also a big factor. Some warranties will only cover the main power train components i.e. engine, transmission or differential. We have found that these are not often common vehicle failures, however ... read more

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