Dear Auto Doctor: I own a 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass with 70,000 miles. I noticed a coolant leak dripping onto my driveway and took the car to the shop. The technician said the leak was at the intake manifold gasket. The cost of repair estimate is $800. Is there a cheaper alternative? -Bob
Dear Bob: Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for the intake gasket failure. Continued driving with a leaking intake gasket can lead to coolant leaking into the engine and damaging the crankshaft bearings leading to catastrophic failure.
Dear Doctor: I belong to a car club in Fort Myers, Fla. We all pitch in with repairs on our members’ vehicles. We always seem to get stuck on electrical jobs, such as computer fault trouble codes, resetting tire pressure monitors, and even reprogramming new keys and remote key fobs. Is there any company that sells a manual for what we need? -Stephen
Dear Stephen: You and your club members in Fort Myers are not alone. Autodata offers books with all the information you requested. It sells trouble fault code books for domestic and import vehicles, key programming and maintenance reset information. There also are books for tire pressure monitor programming, timing belt replacement intervals and instructions and wiring diagrams for all automotive systems. I have a complete set of these books. For more information, call Autodata at 1-800-305-0338 or visit www.autodatapubs.com.
Dear Doctor: I have 1997 Ford Probe with a 2.0 engine. When the “check engine” light came on, I brought the car to my mechanic. The code came up with a lean condition, bank 1. My mechanic changed the bank 1 02 sensor. That didn’t solve the problem. All my other sensors were good (mass air flow and air charge temperature). He tells me it is either a very small vacuum leak or air leak. He told me to wait until it gets worse, so that he can pinpoint the leak. Is there anything else that would cause this condition? Thanks. -Mike
Dear Mike: My first concern is why did the mechanic sell you an oxygen sensor? A lean condition means the oxygen sensor knows the engine is lean. This can be from a minor vacuum leak, dirty mass air meter, faulty PCV valve on any number of vacuum sources. A few simple tests with propane or a smoke machine and a look at the Identifix site can point the technician in the right direction very quickly. I see a lot of engines with leaking rubber seals on plastic intake manifold runners. Alldata.com also lists a full troubleshooting procedure on this and all “check engine” issues.
Dear Doctor: I’ve enjoyed four great years and 60,000 miles of trouble-free ownership with my Toyota Highlander. However, I recently opened the moonroof (seldom used) and was unable to close it. I drove to the Toyota service center and received a repair estimate of $2,300. It quoted a motor housing and control cables … the motor is working. I asked whether the technicians could close the roof so I could at least drive the car. That cost $105. Please advise. -Mike
Dear Mike: Whenever we have problems with a power sunroof, I always send the vehicle to a shop that sells and installs power moon or sunroofs. These are usually the same shops that install the fabric roofs on vehicles. Check the phone book or ask the dealer sales department for the shops it uses.
Dear Doctor: I love your column. My 1998 Expedition with 5.4L engine has major hesitation at 1,500 to 1,600 rpm after warmup. The problem does not occur when the engine is cold, but when under load or stopped. I have added Chevron Pro Guard cleaner a few times without results. Is this something I could repair with additives or could it be a computer or injector pump problem? -Bruce
Dear Bruce: Once engines warm up, they are operating under leaner conditions. Any weak ignition or lack of fuel condition will show up at this time. We need to first check fuel pressure, followed by any pending fault codes. Spark plug and ignition coil breakdown are common. On some rare occasions, early EGR opening also causes hesitation. This may require a road test with a scan tool to monitor the computer system.
• Junior Damato is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.