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Low Profile Tires: Prepare for Firm Ride

By Junior Damato, October 25th, 2014

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a new 2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ. I like it, except for the suspension: It is hard, bumpy and noisy. My dealer's representative told me that nothing can be done. I hate to sell the car for one thing only, but I hate to live my life with this kind of ride suspension. Can any thing be done? Joe

Manufacturer photo: 2014 Chevy Impala LTZ
Manufacturer photo: 2014 Chevy Impala LTZ

strong>Dear Joe: I hear a lot of complaints on hard rides. There is no question that your premium LTZ has a low profile tire that is not forgiving over rough roads. The only way to get a smoother ride would be an expensive tire and wheel change. Before you buy your next car rent the same model for a week to make sure you can enjoy it.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Chrysler van and when I take my foot off the gas at around 37 mph it seems like the car is in low gear. It's a little draggy and sort of pulls back. What's happening? Rob

strong>Dear Rob: The transmission is designed to stay engaged and not freewheel like in years past. This is to keep the engine at a given RPM and the transmission in gear, so when you do apply gas pedal pressure the transmission does not have to hunt or the engine rev. You will also feel the transmission not upshift quickly on cold mornings before the engine and transmission warm up. This is to reduce emissions.

strong>Dear Doctor: I purchased a 2014 Audi TT in the spring. There are no issues with the car, other than the abnormal amount of brake dust produced. In about a two week period the rims get completely black. According to the dealership this is normal. I bought a brake dust removal product -- but apart from spraying, requires use of a power washer to remove most of the dust. Do you have any recommendations for brake pads with alternative material? Also, the car uses synthetic oil. I understood that this only needed to be changed once every 10,000 miles. But one of the guys at the dealership recommended changing the oil every 5,000 miles. Is this necessary? Frank

strong>Dear Frank: Brake dust on mostly front alloy rims is from the soft material used in the brake pad. I have found that high quality ceramic pads work the best for low dust. In the old days we used to install brake dust shields; they do work however are not attractive with today's open style alloy wheels. You can also clean and polish the rims, this will help with removal of the brake dust. There is a lot of controversy with some high end imports and the annual or 10,000 to 12,000 mile oil changes. Personally, I would recommend twice a year.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Chevy TrailBlazer. The engine check light came on with the code P0410. I replaced the air pump, the hose from the pump to the engine, and the valve from the hose to the engine. The check light still comes on with the same code. Can you advise? Brian

strong>Dear Brian: Before we replace any parts at my shop, we perform the correct test procedure. I do see a lot of faulty air pump valves, relays -- and when the pump has water in it, bad pumps. With the professional scan tool the technician can operate and monitor the air pump system. You may have to take the vehicle to a qualified shop that has an ASE-certified technician. A lot of accurate diagnostic information can be found on Alldata and Identifix if your local shop subscribes to the service.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis with 92,000 miles that is well maintained and runs perfectly. I had the air conditioner recharged and now there is a two second intermittent noise that developed after the air was recharged. It sounds like something is seizing in the area below the motor. There are no codes, no warning lights. My mechanic has recharged the air system again in case he inadvertently overcharged it. Still the noise. Where do we look next? Renee

strong>Dear Renee: It does sound like the a/c compressor is building too much pressure and the sound you are hearing is the refrigerant blowing out. For testing purposes, have the mechanic unplug the low pressure valve at the suction line on the a/c system or leave the heat and a/c system off. There may also be a high side cut-off switch that is supposed to shut the compressor off when the pressure gets to a specific pressure. The mechanic also has to check for proper cooling fan operation to keep the high side pressure down.

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