- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

Q: The air conditioning and heater motor failed on my 2005 Cadillac DeVille. I purchased a new motor from the dealer at a cost of $400. I live in the extreme Southwest where the temperatures are very hot, but I feel the part should not have failed so soon.

I wrote to Cadillac customer service and they declined to reimburse me for the cost of the part. Do you have any idea on how I can pursue this matter?

A: When you live in a hot climate and the air conditioning is on often, there is a lot of heat buildup under the hood. This contributes to the failure of the blower motor. Your car is more than three years old and the blower motor is not covered in the drivetrain warranty.

Since customer satisfaction is a big factor for manufacturers who are looking for buyer loyalty, I would have liked for Cadillac to reimburse you for the factory part.

Q: I own a 2003 Arizona my fuel mileage drops by 20 percent. My miles per gallon average 33 to 36, except in the hot weather when it drops to 27 to 28 mpg.

I have written to American Honda (never heard back) and been to the dealer many times, but he found no problems.

A: Hot air heats up the entire car, including your gas tank. The hot gasoline then enters the hot engine and becomes even hotter under the hood. This hot gas burns (evaporates) faster.

It is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with your vehicle and this is a normal condition.

Q: I own a 2007 Dodge Magnum and want to rotate the tires. The owner’s manual says to move the front tires to the rear and criss-cross the rear to the front. The tire shop says criss-crossing the rear tires to the front can damage the steel belts in the tires. What do you recommend?

A: On vehicles that have the same size tires the criss-cross recommendation is the way to go. I have never heard of damaged steel belts from tire rotation directional change.

Q: I own a 1989 Lincoln Continental and the brake system has been acting up. I have had to lightly tap the electric motor to get it to run. When I brake hard it seems like there is no power assist.

I have replaced the electric motor and modules from a salvage yard and bled the system, but still have the same problem. What should I do?

A: Before any parts are replaced you must follow a trouble-shooting guide that will pinpoint-test the system. There are common problems such as the relay, pressure switch, poor ground connections and a loss of nitrogen charge in the accumulator.

The relay can fail and not send the full 12 volts. You can subscribe to Alldata.com for complete step-by-step trouble shooting procedures.

Q: I own a 1998 Pontiac Trans AM with the WS6 option package with 91,000 very easy, non-abusive miles. Every six months I have the gear oil changed with the correct GM synthetic gear oil.

The rear end has been rebuilt under the factory warranty seven times. If I had to pay for the repairs it would have been very expensive. I could understand the failures if I was burning rubber or banging gears. What are your thoughts?

A: The rear differential in your Pontiac has been around for many years. I have changed many ring-and-pinion gear sets for performance upgrades, but not for wear. The most common problem is gear noise. Because of the way the gear teeth are cut, if the gear set is not set up to perfection then there will be gear whine. Once the rear end gears are set and the car is driven if there is any noise, then the gear set needs to be readjusted immediately. Driving as little as 5 miles on a noisy new rear gear set is enough to ruin it.

I have no history on any problems other than this. The rear end housing assembly could be out of line, causing the internal failure. To check if this is the case, the rear end has to be taken apart and alignment tools used to check for straightness. It is not necessary to change the gear oil every six months.

Q: I purchased a 2008 Honda Civic LX in January. At 200 miles the Honda started experiencing excessive cranking (4-6 seconds). There have been several occasions where it would crank for a few seconds before starting up, but would immediately stall. This is a continuous problem occurring about 7-10 times per week. I only have 2,500 miles on the Civic and brought it back to the dealership three times and was advised there is no problem. Do you have a solution?

A: This is not a normal condition. An extended crank and stall could be a lack of fuel pressure, delivery, a coolant sensor out-of-range, or a computer that needs to be reprogrammed. I would go to another dealer or write to American Honda Company.

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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