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Avoid Ruin: Never Over-Tighten Belts

By Junior Damato, May 7th, 2016

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 Honda Accord with the four-cylinder engine. At 110,000 miles my mechanic replaced the timing belt, water pump, oil pump seal, cam seal, and crank seal. I also had the original radiator hoses and fan belts replaced. The engine was always whisper quiet, but after I got the car back it was very noisy. The mechanic told me that the belts were installed very tightly and they have to loosen up through wear, and then it will be quiet again. Also when I accelerate, the car sounds like a sports car. The exhaust sounds very loud, especially under hard acceleration. After two months, the mechanic adjusted the belts and while the Honda engine idle is much quieter, I still hear the loud acceleration noise -- as if I had one of those loud mufflers on a Porsche. Help! Anthony

Manufacturer photo: 2001 Honda Accord
Manufacturer photo: 2001 Honda Accord

strong>Dear Anthony: A belt should never be over-tightened. We replace timing belts on all makes and models, and to date have never had any engine noise after the timing belt or regular drive belt replacement. An over-tightened belt can burn out any bearing that the belt rotates on, including alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor, idler pulleys, etc. An over-tightened timing belt can ruin any pulley bearing it is connected with. Find another technician who will road-test your Accord to check the exhaust noise you talk about.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid with a dashboard light indicator for "low tire pressure." This sometimes comes on when the outdoor temperature drops. If I add air to inflate the tires will the pressure in the tires be too high with the warmer weather? Elizabeth

strong>Dear Elizabeth: Tire pressure monitors do a great job when they work properly. As the temperature drops so does the air pressure. The majority of vehicles I see in my Boston region get an average of 35 pounds cold. I will usually add 3 to 4 pounds over the pressure that is labeled on the door placard card or in owner's manual. Most tires will lose about a pound a month, which is one of the reasons I add some extra air pressure, as well as to keep the tire pressure light off. I know not all of my readers will agree with this answer, but it is what I do in the New England weather.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Honda Accord with a 2.4-liter engine and a CVT transmission. Would it be OK to pull a light utility trailer with this car? Would it void a warranty on this car? Fred

strong>Dear Fred: The new CVT transmissions are much different than just two years ago. These new CVT transmissions can actually be shifted manually if the driver wants. You can follow the trailer weight load recommended by the manufacturer in the owner's manual -- and I would not overload the trailer. It would also be a good idea to have the transmission fluid drained and filled at the end of your trailer season usage. This is a simple drain, just like draining the engine oil -- and only use Honda fluid.

strong>Dear Doctor: I want to purchase a Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab with an 8-foot bed and the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It comes with 17-inch wheels -- I could upgrade to 20-inch wheels. What are your thoughts on the truck in general and the tires/wheels? Do the larger wheels improve the ride and gas mileage? Or is it just for looks? Rob

strong>Dear Rob: Yes, you can upsize the rim size as long as you keep the tire diameter within a 1/4 of an inch of the original spec. You must also know that larger tires increase road resistance and will cause a drop in gas mileage. I think that Ford has done a great job with the 3.5-liter V-6. The twin-turbo EcoBoost offers instant torque from just off idle all the way to the redline. Ford has also made the truck more car-like inside. As for the tire upgrade the truck will look different -- and it will lower gas mileage.

strong>Dear Doctor: Has any automaker built a small SUV that is equipped with front-wheel-drive only with the manual transmission? Gilbert

strong>Dear Gilbert: Manual transmissions are becoming very scarce on SUVs, as well as pickup trucks and some vehicle car models. I personally like the all-new automatic transmissions in today's vehicles. They can be shifted manually, they are quick to shift, and they are also very fuel efficient. I recommend you test-drive any front-wheel-drive with paddle shifters at your finger tips.

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