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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

Weigh Cost of Pricey Part to Value of Car


Weigh Cost of Pricey Part to Value of Car

strong>Dear Doctor: I have 2010 Ford Edge with 176,000 miles. Should I replace the water pump before it leaks? I heard that this 3.5-liter engine could be damaged if it starts leaking. John

Buying Used Car: Change All Fluids


Buying Used Car: Change All Fluids

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm considering buying a 2008 Lincoln Navigator with 90,000 miles on it. I want to know how to service/recondition it to get the best service and life from this high-mileage vehicle. What is the protocol for fluid changes, oil types, oil, and/or gas additives? Sam

Wipers Always Swiping: How to Fix


Wipers Always Swiping: How to Fix

strong>Dear Doctor: Whenever I start-up my 2008 Jeep Liberty the windshield wipers swipe across the window. The intermediate wipers are also always swiping -- rain or shine. Occasionally, they stop doing this for a few weeks, but then are back to constantly swiping across the windshield. Mechanics have looked at the issue, but can't seem to solve the problem. I welcome your advice. Cynthia

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