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Warped Brake Rotors: Switch to a Heavy-Duty System

By Junior Damato, August 6th, 2016

strong>Dear Doctor: My wife drives a 2013 Ford Escape. The front brakes and rotors had to be replaced at 20,000 miles and now again at 32,000 miles due to warped rotors. I know she's hard on the brakes, but this is a bit much. I did some research and came across an article about proper installation and "bedding" the brakes. Is this procedure necessary? Is it possible that the rotors aren't being installed properly? Bill

Manufacturer photo: 2013 Ford Escape
Manufacturer photo: 2013 Ford Escape

strong>Dear Bill: Let's talk about warped brake rotors. There are many reasons why brake rotors go out of round -- sometimes even with brand new vehicles that have under 5,000 miles. On new vehicles, brake rotors usually warp from being overheated. Rear brakes not contributing enough to vehicle stopping, drivers who are hard on the brakes, and poor quality rotors from the factory, are all possible contributors to warping. In my opinion, the size of the brake pads and rotors are too small on the majority of vehicles. When I have a customer who has a complaint on brake pulsation, I suggest switching over to a heavy-duty set of brake pads and rotors from the aftermarket performance industry. I have never had a pulsation issue with these performance brake pad and rotors, although you may get an occasional squeak from these performance brake parts. Many big box auto repair shops use brake rotors that are below the original factory standards.

strong>Dear Doctor: My 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis has 105,000 miles -- and a problem with a flashing airbag warning light. The repair shop scan tool showed trouble code B2292, indicating a restraint system fault with the driver's side seatbelt pre-tensioner. I was quoted a price of $765 for a new Motorcraft seatbelt pre-tensioner with expected labor time of one and a half hours at $111 per hour for replacement. Do I have other repair options, namely an aftermarket seatbelt pre-tensioner or a vendor who rebuilds/repairs faulty units? Chuck

strong>Dear Chuck: SRS airbag replacement parts are not inexpensive, such as with your 2005 Mercury's seat belt assembly. I would recommend having the technician re-check to make sure the fault is not a wire issue or a plug connector fault. You can always purchase a used part from an automotive salvage yard for less money.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2003 Honda Accord and I've noticed the smooth ride I used to have now feels a little rough. My dealer checked the suspension, plus they balanced and rotated the tires. I still feel the ride is rough. Should I replace the shocks and springs help? Bart

strong>Dear Bart: Your car's springs and struts actually lose their weight rating with age. The metal weakens over time, as do the actual gas-charged struts. If you do replace the struts and springs, then use Honda factory brand parts, as well the upper strut mounts. Make sure that the control arms and all sway bar bushings and links are also checked for wear and play.

strong>Dear Doctor: The engine oil on my 2002 Nissan Altima four-cylinder seems to disappear, and I cannot find any leaks and the engine is not smoking. I add about 3 quarts every two months. I replaced two O2 sensors, as well as the upper catalytic converter. Any advice you can offer me on this issue? Randy

strong>Dear Randy: I have seen oil consumption on Altima four-cylinder engines, such as your model. I recommend you switch over to a high-mileage oil. Upper catalytic converter failure is due to oil contamination. Check with Nissan for anything they can do for you. You can also have a trained technician remove the spark plugs and fill the cylinders with combustion cleaner overnight. The next morning remove the cleaner from the cylinders before replacing the spark plugs. The corrosive cleaner will often times make a big difference in freeing up the piston rings. The oil should also be drained before starting the engine.

strong>Dear Doctor: What happened to the Town & County minivan? I heard Chrysler did away with it. Is this true? Annie

strong>Dear Annie: The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica replaces the Town & Country minivan. It has a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 287 horsepower hooked to a 9-speed automatic. I took the Pacifica down the winding and bumpy back country roads and what a delightful surprise with its super strong frame and independent rear suspension. I had to recheck during my drive to make sure I was in a minivan. This is not just just a soccer mom or hockey dad minivan

When to Rotate Pickup Truck Tires

07/06

When to Rotate Pickup Truck Tires

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado. Last year I purchased a set of Cooper Discoverer 265/70R17 tires from Mavis Discount Tire with free tire rotation every 10,000 miles. I brought it back with 9,800 miles on them. They checked the tires with a tire gauge for wear. Mavis said the tires were good for another 3,000 or 4,000 miles. That sounds like a lot to me. What is the proper time or miles for a tire rotation on a pickup truck? I do a mix of local and highway driving. Rich

Weak Air Conditioning: Check a Faulty Blend Door

06/29

Weak Air Conditioning: Check a Faulty Blend Door

strong>Dear Doctor: I drive a 2009 Honda CR-V. The passenger-side air conditioning is blowing cold air when on the lowest settling only; otherwise it blows hot air. The driver's side is fine. The dealership told me the compressor "burned out" and also had a faulty valve. I paid $1,576, but on the way home, the same problem occurred again! If the compressor were "burned out," then why would any cold air be blowing at all? Myrna

Transmission Shift Issues Require Update

06/22

Transmission Shift Issues Require Update

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2016 Chevy Colorado with the V-6 and six-speed transmission. It has poor transmission shifting, hesitating shifting, and stumbling. The transmission doesn't seem to know when or what gear to shift into. This happens in local driving between 20 and 45 mph. And, at 30,000 miles, the locking rear was changed due to whine and clunking. What can you advise me? Don

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