- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2009

Dear Doctor: I have a 1995 Suzuki Sidekick with problem door locks. First I had a problem getting the rear door to stay closed. Finally I got the door closed, and it is now in the locked position and cannot be opened. Plus, all of the doors lock again every time I hit the remote to open the doors. A Suzuki dealership is no longer in my area. - Mira

Dear Mira: Take the car to an ASE-certified technician for repairs. This technician will explore the problem on the Alldata technical support Web site and if additional help is needed, he will then log on to the Identifix site and call the Identifix help line if needed. The one problem Suzuki has is the lack of dealerships.

Dear Doctor: When cold weather sets in, my 2002 Chrysler Sebring coupe with a 3-liter V-6 (80,000 miles) develops a rattling sound on start-up and during acceleration. This seems to diminish as the engine warms up. This has been going on for several years. There are no warning lights or other indications of a problem. On another note, the brake warning light comes on when the outside temperature is below freezing. After driving a while, it goes off. - Richard

Dear Richard: The sound can emit from something like the a/c compressor, pulley, exhaust bracket or catalytic converter. You should leave the car off at the shop of your choice so the technician can pinpoint the source of the sound. Regarding the brake warning light, make sure to check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2007 Mercedes CLK 350 with about 20,000 miles on the odometer. The tires are one-directional and cannot be rotated according to the dealer. Recently, I have been hearing a whining sound from the right front end. The dealer indicted that the sound is due to tire wear. He indicated that since the tires can’t be rotated they get a wear pattern that is not smooth and therein lies the noise problem. Does this sound viable to you? If so, can anything be done to eliminate the noise without having to get new tires. - Jack

Dear Jack: Welcome to the world of high-performance and sports car ownership. Some vehicles have tires that are directional and different in size front and rear. Some tires are also asymmetrical in design. Whenever possible, I steer my customers to a user-friendly tire design that is best for the driving habits of the owner. It sounds like the dealer is telling you the truth.

Dear Doctor: I have a 2003 Camry and had the dealer perform the 60,000-mile tune-up. The service adviser said the water pump was leaking. I told him that I had never needed to add fluids, that I had never seen fluid on the ground under the car and that I had never seen any indication on the engine in the area of the water pump that it was leaking. The service adviser said it only leaks when the engine is running. I told him to go ahead with the replacement, but I have always wondered, is it possible that a water pump would leak only when running? Usually you would see fluid under your car when it is parked. - John

Dear John: We replace timing belts daily. The majority of import vehicle water pumps have a very small coolant stain at the weep or vent hole on the water pump. This is a normal condition. If the water pump was leaking with the engine running, then there would be a loss of coolant and leak stains on the ground. I only replace the pump if the bearing is noisy and the water pump is actually leaking, not staining.

Dear Doctor: I’m considering buying a friend’s 1995 Camaro Z28, with only 13,000 miles on it. It has not been driven or started in six months. It has been garaged since he bought it new, and he has changed the oil twice each year. It is all-original except for the tires, which are new for 2008. I would purchase it as a weekend car only. What immediate maintenance should be done if I buy the car. - Pete

Dear Pete: This Camaro is a fun car, and you can add a lot of high performance upgrades without sacrificing durability or mileage. This car does not require a lot of maintenance. Normal fluid changes are required, including rear differential, transmission and coolant. Spark plugs and fuel filters are often overlooked and should be changed. A fresh air intake, Corsa exhaust and a computer reprogramming will make a big difference.

• Junior Damato is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail questions to info@motormatters.biz

Copyright, Motor Matters

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