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Uneven Road Noise Bothers Car Owner

By Junior Damato, February 20th, 2016

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Toyota Camry. When I drive on a road that's not smooth I get a rattle in the front left side. I am sure it's not a suspension problem because it sounds like something plastic is rattling in the engine compartment. The Toyota dealer changed the front strut but the sound is still there. The sound and vibration are only present when driving slowly on uneven roads. Jill

Manufacturer photo: 2014 Toyota Camry
Manufacturer photo: 2014 Toyota Camry

strong>Dear Jill: The smallest noises can be something as simple as a sway bar link, sway bar bushing, or upper strut mount. We use a chassis ear to locate noises and it does help to pinpoint the source.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan with a leak in the power steering system. My mechanic says I will eventually need a new rack-and-pinon, which is about $800 with labor. I don't want to spend that kind of money. He said add fluid when needed, but not to use "power steering stop leak," as this will harm the system. What do you think? Joe

strong>Dear Joe: It seems like older V-6 Toyota power steering rack and pumps are noted for leaking. I have seen many and the use of a sealant in some cases can slow down the leaks. I have never seen power steering sealer cause any damage to the system.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1992 Buick LeSabre with climate control problems. The blower works intermittently, sometimes shutting down after a few minutes, and sometimes restarting. It tends to start again at acceleration to higher rpms, or when starting the car cold. I've replaced the control switch with a salvage yard unit, but have the same symptoms. My mechanic replaced the resistor, checked the fuses, and isolated the fan, and all appear to be functional. Any other ideas before I replace the climate control switch with another unit? John

strong>Dear John: The technician needs to check all of the connections in the system for corrosion, including the fuse box. The technician will also need to check both power and ground at the blower motor. The easiest way to inspect this is to have the technician connect a test light to the power and ground side of the blower motor and when the fan stops blowing check to see if the light is on. This will tell the technician whether power is getting to the motor.

strong>Dear Doctor: I use premium gas for my cars and small engines (lawn mower) Everything seems to run better, but since not many people buy the premium grade of gasoline, I wonder how long the gas is in the station underground tanks. I know they use additives, but how long can it last before it degrades? Fred

strong>Dear Fred: I also use premium gasoline in my vehicles and yard equipment. I also use additives, such as fuel stabilizer. You may want to do the same if you are concerned about the quality of the gas. Premium gasoline burns cleaner and hotter. My wife even burns premium gas in her four-cylinder car and says it runs better and gets better gas mileage.

strong>Dear Doctor: I thoroughly enjoy your column. I was surprised when you replied to a reader that if the original radiator hoses look OK, then he doesn't have to replace them on his 2001 Ford F-350. How could they be good if they are that old? Why would anyone take the chance? Rob

strong>Dear Rob: Even on a 2001 Ford, the hoses are much better in quality than of years gone by, and the coolant is less harsh as well. I have seen hoses 20-plus years old is great condition. There are some exceptions, such as if the hoses became oil-soaked and brittle.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am searching for a new small or medium SUV, however, I find that the turn signal sound levels are low int he brands I am testing. Is there any way to increase the sound level of the turn signal on any of these late model cars? Years ago we were able to change out the turn signal relay for a louder sounding one. Some sales people tell me that the service departments can adjust a pot switch in one of the computer control modules, while others say there is nothing that can be done. I am 68 years old and wear hearing aids. I think this would be a great selling point for the older generation. Bart

strong>Dear Bart: Indeed, many years ago there were optional louder flashers that could be purchased. I agree with you that that the flasher units on today's vehicles are very quiet. Your question should be asked and answered by the service department of the automaker brand you are interested in on whether a louder flasher could be installed.

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