strong>Dear Doctor: We had the dealer in Florida put a new water pump and computer in my 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix (78,000 miles). My son then drove the car to New York. Now he can barely drive around the block without it overheating. He removed the water pump, thermostat, hoses, and radiator to make sure they were not clogged. All checked out fine. What is causing the overheating? John
strong>Dear John: If there is no faulty gauge reading, then a simple (and often overlooked) step is to check the cooling system for any hydrocarbons (exhaust gases) that might be caused by a leaking cylinder head or head gasket. If there are no hydrocarbon readings from the cooling system, then a circulation test will need to be performed.
strong>Dear Doctor: We had the brakes resurfaced on our 2003 Nissan Altima. Now the brakes consistently make a noise when releasing the brake pedal. It seems to be emanating under the car somewhere between the seats where the console box is located. The dealer said this is a normal noise. What do you think? Mitch
strong>Dear Mitch: The noise that your Nissan Altima is experiencing sounds like it's coming from the park interlock safety solenoid. The solenoid unlocks and allows the transmission shift lever to be moved out of park. Some vehicles are louder than others. If this is the source of the noise, then yes, it is normal.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2000 Toyota Avalon with a V-6 and 100,000 miles on it. After taking a 360-mile trip the engine developed a loud buzzing noise, which goes away after the engine warms up. My mechanic says the cam sprockets need to be replaced, but to hold off until valve work is necessary. I read something about the Avalons having trouble with a VBCI oil line coming loose and causing a loud engine noise. I don't care to take the car to the dealer. What would you advise? Jim
strong>Dear Jim: The camshaft sprocket is driven by a rubber-timing belt on this vehicle. There is an oil control valve that controls valve timing on the Avalon. You should not hesitate to go to the dealer with this problem. With 100,000 miles on the vehicle I think that a small repair now could save big money later.
strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1989 Ford Bronco II with the 2.9-liter V-6 and automatic transmission. I have a rebuilt engine with 90,000 miles. When the "check engine" light comes on the engine will speed up. When the "check engine" light goes out the engine speed returns to normal. What's causing this to happen? Bill
strong>Dear Bill: The diagnosis will require a technician who has access to a professional full-service scan tool. He will hook up the computer connector under the hood and start with the basic scanning of fault codes. The inexpensive scan tools for 1996 and newer vehicles will not work on this 1989 model. Ford's system also has the ability to conduct an engine running test. We need to get computer information to proceed. Have your technician check with Identifix for any trouble history on this vehicle.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu with a right tie rod problem. It now has to be replaced -- for the fourth time. The car has 135,000 miles. Is there anything that could be causing this chronic problem -- or is it a manufacturer defect? John
strong>Dear John: Make sure that your replacement part is not coming from an aftermarket parts store. Some parts manufacturing companies are of poor quality with no grease fittings. You can have the repair shop purchase the tie rod end from the local GM dealer. I have found in some cases the dealer part is of better quality and the price can be better than the aftermarket parts store brand. GM (like other manufacturers) doesn't make the parts, but their parts suppliers do build to a higher standard.
strong>Dear Doctor: The rear tailgate handle will not open the tailgate on my 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport. This problem occurs when I hit the door release button or when I use the key to unlock the tailgate. When I pull up on the handle it will not release the tailgate. Interestingly, if I turn the key and pull up on the handle at the exact same time, the tailgate will open. Should buy a new handle? Victor
strong>Dear Victor: There is an electric actuator that locks and unlocks the rear latch assembly. In some cases the latch and actuator are sold together as part of the latch and in some other cases the actuator can be purchased separately. But before you buy anything remove the inside rear gate plastic panel to verify the cause of the problem.
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