- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

I own a 2003 Lexus 430 SC. I have ruined two sets of tires because of extreme wear on the inside third of the tires. I had an alignment by the dealer but I think the alignment specs from the manufacturer are not right. Lexus Customer Satisfaction said they’re fine. The dealer said that all 430 SC models wear extremely on the inside and even showed me other cars with the same condition. I love the car but do not want to replace the Run Flat tires because of this condition. Please help.

-Tom

Dear Tom: Tire wear on the inside usually is from a negative camber. This is when the top of the tire is facing to the inside of the car and the bottom is facing outward. If you see a scuffing to the wear, this indicates a toe adjustment problem. Check with a local front-end shop for their opinion. In some cases, to adjust the camber requires modification to the upper strut mount (camber bolt kit).

Dear Doctor: I just bought a 2008 Chevy Equinox Sport with the 3.6-liter, 264-horsepower engine. The owner’s manual states: “We recommend against the use of gasoline containing MMT (methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl).” Also, it states: “Your vehicle was not designed for fuel that contains Methanol. It can corrode metal parts in the fuel system and also damage plastic and rubber parts.” How do I know which gas stations have this in the gas? Which brand of gas do you recommend? And, what is your opinion of this engine?

-Gary

Dear Gary: Ask the filling station if the gasoline carries any of the non-recommended additives. The gasoline additive packages vary in different parts of the country. Gasoline additives also change with the seasons.

Dear Doctor: I have a 1998 Dodge Dakota 4WD pickup with the V-6 Magnum engine. There is a lack of heat when the defroster or floor heat is on. This happens even after running the truck until it is thoroughly hot. I have changed the thermostat and had the radiator flushed and new coolant added, but the temperature at the defroster is only between 95 and 98 degrees. Any suggestion as to a corrective measure?

-Brad

Dear Brad: The heat temperature emitting from the vents should be 125 degrees on the low side to a high of 165 degrees. Anything under 125 degrees indicates any of the following: engine temperature low, poor circulation, partly blocked heater core or hoses, worn water pump fins, or a heater blend door not opening or closing fully (very common). A quick test is to check both heater core hoses and if one is cold the other hot, then there is a blockage.

Dear Doctor: I am the original owner of a 1999 Buick Park Avenue with 63,000 miles. The problem is a harsh shift into reverse in cold weather. Buick has two technical service bulletins that refer to this problem, including a computer reprogramming. I had both done but still have the problem the first time I use the car for the day. What do you recommend?

-Chris

Dear Chris: We’ve flushed out the transmission fluid on a few vehicles at my shop and filled the transmission with a multipurpose semi-synthetic fluid, which lessened the harshness. Another option is to let the engine idle a few minutes before shifting into reverse. Also consider backing into the drive overnight, or placing the transmission into drive then reverse. Has anyone checked the transmission mount and hydraulic mount for movement? The car is approaching 10 years old, and a combination of worn parts can also be related to your complaint.

Dear Doctor: Your recently advised a reader to make sure the oil is hot before changing. But if you change the oil cold, wouldn’t you be able to better remove all of its impurities? Also, I have a 1963 Oldsmobile in showroom condition. I had an occasional tapping in the engine, but after switching to Mobil 1, I never heard the tapping again. I read your column every week, and I find your responses very informative and helpful.

-Bill

Dear Bill: Cold oil does not flow as well as warm oil - and the impurities do cling to the warm draining oil. Synthetic oils and today’s extremely refined oils are great for late-model engines with roller camshaft and lifters. There are many additives that need to be added to engine oil on older cars. These special additives are available at speed shops and large auto parts stores.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions to [email protected] Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347. Listen to Junior online att www.1460wxbr.com Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2008

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