- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

Q: I really like my 1997 Cadillac Eldorado. It has just 78,000 miles. The quick lube shop talked me into a power steering flush. The next day the power steering failed. I had the power steering rack unit replaced and then the airbag light came on.

The dealer said it was an open circuit and fixed it. The next problem was stability and service ride control. I had the suspension fixed. What caused all the problems to surface after the power steering fluid change? Could it be a coincidence?

A: A power steering fluid change in a 10-year-old car can sometimes cause metal particles to get lodged in the small power steering rack valves. The airbag light circuit can be from the steering wheel being turned too far in either direction when disconnected from the steering rack. The suspension issues are not unusual.

With the age of your Cadillac electronics will fail, so too, will other non-related parts. Either way, the car is paid for and has low miles and you truly like the car. Be happy.

Q: I own a 2002 Honda CR-V with only 35,298 miles on it. The “check engine” light came on, so I went to the Honda dealer and had them check it and do the routine maintenance. They said it needed a new oxygen sensor at a cost of $386 installed. I called Honda and they said the warranty for this item expired at 3 years/36,000 miles. What happened to Honda quality?

A: Parts fail due to a variety of circumstances. The sensor that failed measures the exhaust gases and sends a signal back to the computer for fuel management. Your mileage is low and this can contribute to early oxygen sensor failure, and as well, very little highway driving will contribute to the problem.

I have seen some emission parts carry an 8-year/80,000-mile warranty.

Q: I own a 1997 Dodge pickup truck with 153,000 miles. The truck has never let me down. How long can I continue to rely on this truck?

A: Some vehicles can run 200,000 miles without major repairs. Vehicles communicate with owners by making noises, squeaks, rattles, etc. Keep an eye and ear open on anything different and have it checked right away.

Q: I own a 2002 Ford Explorer with 124,000 miles. Every so often the gauge light illuminates on the dash and the oil pressure is all the way down. This happens while the gear selector is in drive and I am stopped. If I put the transmission in neutral, the gauge goes back up and the light goes out. The dealer said it might be a bad gauge. Should I go through the expense of replacing the gauge?

A: High miles combined with oil that is thin when warm will equal low oil pressure at a hot idle. This is the most common cause for your gauge light issue. I do not think your problem is a defective gauge.

First, have the oil pressure checked with a mechanical gauge at the shop while the engine is both cold and hot.

Second, I suggest changing the oil to a 15W40 high-mileage oil. Then see if the gauge drops at a hot idle in gear. I use this practice a lot at my shop for high mileage vehicles with this problem. It’s a lot cheaper than an engine overhaul.

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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