- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

Q: I have a 2005 Nissan Altima 3.5 V-6 that does not operate anymore. I thought it was the alternator, so I replaced that and it was running fine. After that it overheated twice. I thought it was the radiator, so I replaced that and the car died out on me.

I did notice that the “service engine” light was on before it stopped running. I’ve had it checked out by friends and they say the head gasket is cracked. To save time and money in the future they told me to replace the whole engine. What can I do?

A: When today’s engines are overheated most of the time it means either a cylinder head or head gasket has failed. On some engines plastic intake manifolds and/or intake gaskets can also cause coolant leakage. A simple pressure test can sometimes pinpoint the leak. My suggestion would be to get a complete engine replacement. There are many salvage yards that sell good used engines.

Q: I own a 2007 Shelby GT 500 convertible and would like to install some high performance parts. What parts would give me the most for the money. I found a lot of companies on the Internet that all claim to have the best performance parts. I can do a lot of the basic installation myself.

A: There are many companies that offer a variety of performance upgrades for the entire Mustang line. Steeda performance located in Pompano Beach Fla., is a good company when it comes to Ford high performance parts. As for your GT 500, you can make big improvements for under $3,000 and still have a great streetcar. My suggestions are to add/replace the following: supercharger pulley with a smaller one, so that you’ll gain about 3 pounds of boost; fresh air intake system; 3:73 rear axle gear set; muffler replacement and a set of lowering springs. You will also need a download flash programmer. Your 505 horsepower GT will now be around 600 horsepower.

Q: I own a 1999 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup that has a problem with the daytime running lights. They do not work at all. I have checked the obvious bulbs, fuses and wiring that I can get to. The indicator on the dash tells me the DRL are on when the truck is running and the indicator goes out when I turn on the headlights. I do not have access to wiring diagrams. I looked for a DRL relay, but didn’t find one. What am I missing?

A: The relay is in the compartment under the hood on the driver’s side. Be sure to check the bulbs. I see a lot of bulbs that are burned out. They burn out one at a time.

Q: I have a 1994 Chevrolet Astro van with 140,000 miles. The transmission has never been serviced. Should I leave it alone? What do you think I ought to do?

A: I would drop the transmission pan and replace the filter and gasket, and not perform a fluid flush. By doing a filter replacement, you are only replacing 50 percent of the transmission fluid. You could then do only a fluid flush in six months to replace all the fluid.

Q: I bought a 1994 Buick Century last August with only 84,000 miles. At speeds between 63-78 mph there seems to be shaking that I think comes from the front end. I took the car to two shops and they replaced the struts, tie rods, brake rotors, tires and flushed the transmission fluid. The car drives the same. What can I do next?

A: Both shops missed the problem. It would seem that there is something out of round or balance. It could even be a bad inner c/v axle joint. You will need to find a qualified technician to diagnose the problem. Contact the your local American Automobile Association and ask for a list of AAA-approved repair shops in your area.

Q: I am interested in a new 2008 Ford Taurus X and would like your opinion.

A: I spent a week in the Taurus X and thought it was a good crossover type vehicle. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine coupled to the six-speed automatic delivered more power than I needed. The ride was not harsh and with all-wheel drive this vehicle can handle everything you give it. Fit and finish on Ford vehicles has come a long way. The interior has ample storage bins and the seats are firm and very comfortable. Gas mileage will vary depending on driving habits and conditions. Our mileage averaged in the low 20s. The EPA is rated 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway.

Q: I have a 2006 Ford Mustang GT with 16,000 miles on it. Every so often when I exit a parkway after driving about an hour and come to a stop sign or yield, the car will hesitate for a split second upon giving it the gas. Ford´s TSB indicates the problem. It lies in the gas tank where bubbles are formed around the fuel pump. The dealer naturally can´t recreate the problem. What should I do?

A: Both Identifix and Alldata list the Technical Service Bulletin #06-9-9, referring to the air bubbles around the fuel sender. The new updated fuel sender is #7R3Z-9H307-C. The replacement time is one hour. A free replacement is under the new car warranty only. Your mileage is low and within the 3-year/36,000 miles warranty. Bring this article to the dealer when you go and contact Ford customer assistance.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions to info@motormatters.biz or mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347

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