- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

I bought a new ‘08 Nissan Maxima. As I was slowing down, I heard noises coming from the front brakes. I went back to the dealer and the service department manager said the front brakes and rotors had rust build-up on them from the car sitting on the lot for four months. He said this is normal. They replaced the brake pads and resurfaced the front brake rotors. What do you think?

A: Yes, this is a common. I had the same problem with my pickup truck. The rotors rusted every three months from lack of use. In the Boston area where I am based, I see this problem every spring when the snowbirds return from Florida.

The dealership performed the right service. We can debate the point of new rotors vs. resurfacing the originals, but the bottom line is, Nissan motor company has the final say in what the dealer can or cannot do when it comes to warranty service.

Q: I purchased a used Volvo V70 a few months ago. Sometimes I hear the blower running for a long time after I turn the car off. My mechanic can’t find a problem. Any ideas?

A: This condition is normal. The heater/air conditioning system is designed to come on by itself after the car is shut off and can stay on up to 30 minutes, depending on how long the a/c was running. This feature is to help dry out condensation in the evaporator and help eliminate mold and odor.

Q: I own a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu with 23,765 miles. The “service engine” light comes on and off. My mechanic said he couldn’t do anything until I bring it in with the light on. Can you help?

A: Your vehicle should store a computer fault code history in memory. Some inexpensive generic scan tools do not have the capability to read this function, so make sure your mechanic has the best tools. The problem causing the light to illuminate seems to be a minor problem that corrects itself after a drive cycle or two.

Q: What is your opinion of keeping the fuel tank near “full” vs. running low and adding gas as needed? Doesn’t the car get better mileage with less weight from the gasoline?

A: The expensive electric fuel pump in the gas tank is cooled by the gasoline in the tank. At empty, there is not much gas to keep the fuel pump cool. The few extra pounds from the gasoline will not affect the gas mileage. I would not let the gas go below half a tank.

Q: My 2000 Toyota Camry V-6 has 58,900 miles on it. My mechanic told me last week that I should be ready to change the timing belt at 60,000 miles or eight years. However, another mechanic, as well as the Toyota owner’s manual, said the time to change the belts is at 90,000 miles. Who is correct?

A: Timing belt replacement should be done at the mileage interval recommended by the manufacturer — or when the vehicle reaches six years of age — maximum. Rubber timing belts do wear, lose flexibility, dry out and break without warning.

Q: How can we keep from being ripped off when going in for auto repairs?

A: Contact your local AAA office for a list of AAA-approved repair shops. AAA is very thorough when checking shop’s service and ASE-certified technicians. You can also check with the local car dealer for service. Car repair and maintenance is not cheap and is getting more expensive — and will continue to do so. Cars get more sophisticated each year, requiring more expensive tools and electronic equipment to diagnose and repair them.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions to [email protected] or Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347


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