- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

I own a Pontiac G6 convertible with only 7,000 miles. I love the car, except for the squealing brakes. I went back to the dealer, and they said this is a normal condition here in Arizona, where it is hot and dry. I replaced the pads, but still have the same squeal noise. What can you advise? - Howard

Dear Howard: There are many types of brake pads and grades of quality of the friction material. Glazed brake rotors may also contribute to brake squeal. I have used Power Slot brake rotors and Hawk brake pads. The non-friction sides of the pads need to have an anti-squeal compound applied to the contact area, and the brake pad caliper and pads must have correct clips and hardware. A proper manufacture brake-pad break-in period should be followed. An occasional brake squeak is normal, but a consistent squeal is not.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2007 Chevrolet Impala. When it had 18,000 miles on it, the brakes felt spongy and make a strange noise. The dealer said it would cost $249 to turn the rotors and replace the brake pads. Now at 25,000 miles, the problem is back. The dealer said I am too hard on the brakes. I am a senior citizen and the brake pads are only 50 percent worn. What’s your advice? - Kenneth

Dear Kenneth: The problem you describe sounds like a poor-quality brake rotor metal and a small diameter of the brake rotors. A good quality brake rotor, such as Power Slot or any other performance brake brand, should be used as a replacement. Also have the shop you go to for this replacement service bleed the entire system and make sure the rear brakes are contributing to stopping the car as well.

Dear Doctor: I own a 1986 Ford Ranger pickup 2-wheel drive with the manual transmission. When I start the engine cold and drive away, it will jerk a bit for the first mile or so. It feels like a beginner driver learning to operate a manual transmission. As the engine warms, the truck runs perfectly. A local shop checked the Ranger, but there were no fault codes. The engine also had a recent tune-up. What is the problem? - Sylvester

Dear Sylvester: Vehicles 1995 and older usually will not show a minor engine fault code. You did not mention the engine size, so let’s be general about the possible problem. The bucking could be engine running lean or over-advanced ignition. The first step is to unplug the EGR valve and plug the vacuum line, then drive the truck the next morning and see if the problem is gone. If not, reconnect the EGR hose. Next, try unplugging the fuel pressure regulator. Again, test-drive the truck. The third step is to unplug the timing spout. (This will hold the timing at the base setting). These recommendations are for testing purposes only.

Dear Doctor: I cannot get the shimmy out of my car between 55 and 60 mph. Why are there no shops that high-speed balance tires? - Charles

Dear Charles: I suggest you take the car to a shop and have the technician take the tire off, leaving the weights on the tire and spin the tire on the balancer to see if it is out of balance. Most technicians remove all the weights before putting the tire on the balancer.

Dear Doctor: I am 6-feet-8-inches and drive a 2004 Cadillac DTS that has been a great car with excellent gas mileage. Are there any shops that could convert my front-drive DTS to a rear-wheel drive? The current CTS, SRX and STS are too small for me to fit in. I have also been looking into other brands of bigger RWD cars. I would like to stay with a Cadillac, if possible. It is also difficult for me to get into an SUV. - Tommy

Dear Tommy: As for converting your car to rear-wheel drive, this will never happen. And as far as being cramped in the newer Cadillac RWD models, you can always have an independent shop move the seat frame back 3 to 4 inches for extra leg room. If you like the Escalade SUV, it can be lowered about 3 inches to make it easier to get in and out.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail questions to [email protected] or address them to Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347

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