Springfield

The "Ask a Mechanic" Thread

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QUESTION:

94 Subaru Impreza, manual transmission. When I turn the fan on, it makes sort of a chugging wheezing sound like someone having trouble breathing. Not very loud, but noticeable and you can feel the engine struggle just a bit every time it "exhales." This is only when its idling. Once placed in gear and moving, it subsides until it goes away completely at highway speeds. If I idle long enough, it sometimes stalls. Does it with AC, heat, or just the fan. No symptoms of engine trouble at all when the fan is off. No check lights on. Started doing it right after my last oil change.

I'm assuming that you are talking about the fan in the car, the blower that blows head and AC on you. It kind of sounds like the fan may be locking up and drawing on the battery causing the engine to stumble because the battery power is not constant.

I doubt it has anything to do with your last oil change. I would recommed you take it into a shop because I don't really have an answer for you insofar as a common problem I see. I could be completely wrong about my thoughts, but if it's stalling, you should probably address that.

Pre 1996 (Pre OBD 2 or On Board Diagnostics 2) vehicles are very finicky with their check engine lights. They are not the most reliable when it comes to thinking you have a "real" problem with the car. Just a side note.

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how can you keep a car in good repair driving on super dusty to muddy dirt roads all the time?

The undercarraige looks pretty caked and there is insidious moon dust everywhere.....

It's very hard I'm sure. A pressure washer and some jackstands may help. Try and keep it as clean as possible, including the underside (at least of the engine). Some people would be right at home with your personal driving conditions, you know, the whole off roading, Jeep Wrangler driving type?

I've seen vehicles from the northeast come down here. Frames and underbody are completely rusted, to the point of almost falling apart. This is obviously because of the harsh winters they have up there. Basically I'm saying, it may be impossible to avoid future repairs because of your own personal driving conditions.

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QUESTION:

2003 Saab 95 wagon, every time I turn on the AC all my coolant spills into the road and bells and whistles start going off on my dashboard. I refill, drive without AC and everything is fine. Next day, wife gets in car(not knowing about AC problem) same thing happens. How much is this gonna cost me?

Thanks in advance.

Again, with the cost... It's very hard to say, location and actual problem have a lot to do with this. I will however note that Saabs are pretty damn expensive to work on, just an FYI.

It sounds like possibly the AC is somehow putting up so much strain on the cooling system that it's causing the car to overheat. The strange thing is that after you fill it back up and everything is fine. I'd think maybe thermostat (coolant is not circulating because the thermostat won't open or is sticking) or water pump (coolant is not circulating enough). I'd personally lean more towards thermostat as your problem.

You should take it to a reputable service station though. See what they have to say.

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I agree with this. As soon as a service person tries to sell me a power steering flush I typically will never go back to them. I always thought that was BS. Apparently, my suspicians were correct.

Question. My girl has a 97 corolla with 90K, which should get in the 30's in terms of mpg. I bet it gets in the low 20's at the moment, horrible. I changed the plugs and wires, no effect. What should I do next? Fuel system cleaning?

A power steering flush isn't always useless. I've seen many times (especially on Fords), a power steering flush clear up a power steering whine. I has also been proven to prevent leaks in power steering components. Not saying you should do it every day, but a little maintenance now may prevent a $1200 power steering rack replacement.

As far as the mpg issue. Check tire pressure, check air filter, check throttle body. The first two are easy, as far as the throttle body, if it's dirty (you'll see black stuff all over it, especially the back side if it is) than you should have an induction service. Adding a can of injector cleaner to the tank probably won't do the trick. There are machines used to perform this induction service. Basically those machines atomize the chemicals and spray right into the throttle body, atomization looks like a fine mist by the way. Other chemicals go into the vacuum lines and clean those out too. Final thing to check... they way she drive the thing. Does she drive like a maniac? That would hurt fuel economy too, quite a bit I might add.

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:( ...

Probably cost near as much as the car is worth, but having JUST bought my wife a new one, and a baby due in 6 weeks I'd glady spend the $2-$3k if it will keep me going at least another two years.

Thanks man. Great thread that clearly a lot of people are getting good use out of.

Congrats on the baby! Or at leas soon to be born baby!:)

If I were on your shoes, I'd drive the car untill it failed in a forward gear (starts slipping I mean). It only happens in reverse for now, so you should usually be able to get where you are going. If you flush it, it could make it worse (to the point where reverse doesn't work or the forward gears are also affected), or have no impact at all in which case you basically wasted your money.

With a newborn on the way, I know every last penny you could save would be for the best. I'd rather not see you waste your money, if a transmission flush could accelerate the rate of failure of your transmission or have no affect on your transmission's symptom at all. Based on my experience, transmission flushes don't usually help Honda's that show signs of failure.

Also, I understand that you don't want a car that isn't reliable. So if your willing to spend the several thousand now, for a new transmission (if that's really what it needs), it's completely understandable.

Also... thanks for your comments. Hopefully I didn't bite off more than I can chew with this thread. I've spent about 2 hours just answering questions and commenting. Haven't even had time to check out the religious/political mumbo jumbo on the Tailgate boards yet. It's fun though, I like helping people learn and educating people in the field that I chose to persue.

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I own a 2004 Nissan Altima 2.5 S with 76,000 miles on it. I get the oil changed every 3k. But what other services may it need now with these miles on it? For some reason it seems like 75,000 miles is a familiar number for maintenance on a car. And also, my car has a timing chain, correct? Thank you, sir.

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I own a 2004 Nissan Altima 2.5 S with 76,000 miles on it. I get the oil changed every 3k. But what other services may it need now with these miles on it? For some reason it seems like 75,000 miles is a familiar number for maintenance on a car. And also, my car has a timing chain, correct? Thank you, sir.

It sure sound cliche, but since I don't have my trusty computer software here (the guide that tells me all of the maintenance intervals for every car), I'll have to say, consult the owners manual.

75K probably entails something along replacing the engine air filter, the cabin air filter and replacing the oil and oil filter. I can't be too sure though. 60K and 90K are probably more necessary (read: contain a lot more maintenance needs) than the 75K service. 105K is probably going to be fairly large as well I would assume.

Also note... if you haven't had any maintenance done at all, except for the normal oil changes, expect bad news with all of that stuff that says "inspect" next to it in the owner's manual for 75K.

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It sure sound cliche, but since I don't have my trusty computer software here (the guide that tells me all of the maintenance intervals for every car), I'll have to say, consult the owners manual.

75K probably entails something along replacing the engine air filter, the cabin air filter and replacing the oil and oil filter. I can't be too sure though. 60K and 90K are probably more necessary (read: contain a lot more maintenance needs) than the 75K service. 105K is probably going to be fairly large as well I would assume.

Also note... if you haven't had any maintenance done at all, except for the normal oil changes, expect bad news with all of that stuff that says "inspect" next to it in the owner's manual for 75K.

Alrighty. Thanks for the info. :applause:

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I recently had an AC leak repaired. Things were fine for a couple weeks. Lately, I've noticed it sounds like the fan is on when I have the AC off, but no air is blowing out. What is that?

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I recently had an AC leak repaired. Things were fine for a couple weeks. Lately, I've noticed it sounds like the fan is on when I have the AC off, but no air is blowing out. What is that?

Sounds like the fan in the dash (blower) or fan under the hood (radiator fan)? If it's the radiator fan, than that's normal, it comes on after the car warms up to help keep the radiator at a constant temperature. If it's the blower in the dash... do you have the interior fan on at all? How would you describe the sound?

It's highly unlikely that they disturbed anything while fixing an AC leak as far as the blower is concerned. Unless they were in the dash replaing the AC evaporator of course. Also, if there was a problem with what they did it would most likely have happened soon after the fix (within a day or two).

One question though. Does it sound like a wooshing sound, like air or water rushing from behind the dash? Most likely after you turn the AC off?

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Sounds like the fan in the dash (blower) or fan under the hood (radiator fan)? If it's the radiator fan, than that's normal, it comes on after the car warms up to help keep the radiator at a constant temperature. If it's the blower in the dash... do you have the interior fan on at all? How would you describe the sound?

It's highly unlikely that they disturbed anything while fixing an AC leak as far as the blower is concerned. Unless they were in the dash replaing the AC evaporator of course. Also, if there was a problem with what they did it would most likely have happened soon after the fix (within a day or two).

One question though. Does it sound like a wooshing sound, like air or water rushing from behind the dash? Most likely after you turn the AC off?

It sounds like the fan in the dash in the vents, despite having turned everything off and no air blowing out. It sounds like when I'm defrosting the windshields. If there's going to be a long-term consequence, that's gonna be another headache. If it doesn't really matter, I don't care. :(

Thanks for the help.

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It sounds like the fan in the dash in the vents, despite having turned everything off and no air blowing out. It sounds like when I'm defrosting the windshields. If there's going to be a long-term consequence, that's gonna be another headache. If it doesn't really matter, I don't care. :(

Thanks for the help.

If it happens after you use the AC but turn it off, this may be normal. There can be a sound of the AC rushing through the evaporator after you turn the AC off.

You could possibly take it back to the people and say, "My car started making this noise, you guys fixed it a few weeks ago, can you come outside and hear it?" a reasonable shop would go listen to it on the spot as long as you think you can duplicate the noise. They shouldn't charge you anything for just listening to it either.

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If it happens after you use the AC but turn it off, this may be normal. There can be a sound of the AC rushing through the evaporator after you turn the AC off.

You could possibly take it back to the people and say, "My car started making this noise, you guys fixed it a few weeks ago, can you come outside and hear it?" a reasonable shop would go listen to it on the spot as long as you think you can duplicate the noise. They shouldn't charge you anything for just listening to it either.

Unfortunately, it does it when I start my car, too. :(

Thanks, I'll probably be doing that sometime soon.

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Unfortunately, it does it when I start my car, too. :(

Thanks, I'll probably be doing that sometime soon.

Well, sorry then. I'm at a loss of thoughts for what your problem could be. See what your shop says, if you have any questions, I would happy to share my insight with you.

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Seeing as how you have a bit of an automotive background, I'll be a little more techy with you...

I don't like Ford, never have and probably never will. My girlfriend drives a Focus and I had to replace the motor in it at 90K, the top of piston #2 just decided to break off of the connecting rod... pretty cool.

That said, Ford's transmissions aren't nearly as much of junk as the transmission in Chryslers or some newer Hondas (althugh, it seems that the Honda ATF Z-1 plays a large part in that). I take it you have never flushed your transmission before. I've certainly seen my fair share of ATF flushes that seemingly caused the transmission to go bad. Those ATF flushes only exceeded the inevidable though, those transmissions were toast long before we flushed them. A transmission flush on a good trans, that's not in the process of failing is always a good thing, you want the inside of that bad boy to be pristene clean.

So look at your transmission fluid... Does it have metal flakes in it? Is it jet black? If not, and your transmission isn't slipping, I see no harm in a flush. If you flush it and 6 months later your transmission dies, it would've happened anyway, just a little faster because the flush cleaned all of the dirt and grime that was holding your transmission together out.

As far as timing chains, I don't see any point in changing them unless they break or there is so much slack that the valve timing is way out of whack. Just my personal opinion.

And yes, most if not all, new Fords take 5W20. The oil is thin as hell and may scare you, but I've heard of 2.0L Ford engines lock up because somebody decided to use 5W30 instead (the camshaft locked up). Look at it this way, the 5W20 is a fuel saving oil... it'll help save gas on that giant, gas guzzling V-8 that you have.

My milage isn't bad, close to 20 mpg, which is fantastic for a full size.

Thanks, kind of what I was thinking.

Another question. After I did my plug change, the plugs seem to come loose. I used loc tight and torqued them to specs, but still I'll hear that tapping every once in a while and bang, out comes a plug. What can I do?

I already had to do one helli coil, stupid 3 threads in aluminum heads, thanks Ford. I don't like Ford either anymore. This truck has made me a life long Chevy fan now.

Also, and this one is important. The Coils love to die on me. I have replaced them about 10 times now, over 3 years. Why will they not last? It seems they like to build moisture up before quiting. I don't know how to seel them up and would worry about building to much heat if I did. I have tryed a little/ a lot of electrode grease with no results.

Anything for that one?

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Get a can of WD-40 and use the straw to flush out the lock cylinder(then jiggle ;) ),perhaps you will get lucky.

It is either dirty or worn key or cylinder(or all of the above),if the key looks worn try another.

Type of car would help,some are inexpensive some not at all. ;)

Thanks, I will give it a shot tonight. So far beating the hell out of it has accomplished nothing. If this works, its as simple as you can get!

2000 Buick Regal BTW.

As twa said, you could certainly try the WD-40. Spray it into the ignition lock (where you put the key) and turn a few times, see if that helps. I doubt it will and you will probably need to get the ignition lock or switch replaced, but it's worth a shot.

SS, great thread man. I don't care what your girl says, its a great idea and appreciated. :cheers:

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A power steering flush isn't always useless. I've seen many times (especially on Fords), a power steering flush clear up a power steering whine. I has also been proven to prevent leaks in power steering components. Not saying you should do it every day, but a little maintenance now may prevent a $1200 power steering rack replacement.

As far as the mpg issue. Check tire pressure, check air filter, check throttle body. The first two are easy, as far as the throttle body, if it's dirty (you'll see black stuff all over it, especially the back side if it is) than you should have an induction service. Adding a can of injector cleaner to the tank probably won't do the trick. There are machines used to perform this induction service. Basically those machines atomize the chemicals and spray right into the throttle body, atomization looks like a fine mist by the way. Other chemicals go into the vacuum lines and clean those out too. Final thing to check... they way she drive the thing. Does she drive like a maniac? That would hurt fuel economy too, quite a bit I might add.

I'm sure a power steering flush isn't always useless. But I would rather take my chances than pay $75 for a power steering flush. Or do it myself.

Thanks for the help BTW. The air filter and tires are brand new. I drive the car (not like a maniac) and get the same mpg. I have a 6 cyl in my car and get better mpg than her 4cyl at the moment. It's very frustrating to have a somewhat fuel efficient car that's not fuel efficient given the gas prices. I will take your advice and get the induction serviced. I haven't changed the distributor cap/rotor either, I suppose this is a possibility since it has a rough idle?

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When your shop replaces parts, do you offer them back to the customer?

Two points for this question:

1/. Any part that comes off a vehicle is the property of the vehicle owner, and

2/. Indicates that any part shown on the work order as being replaced has actually been replaced.

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I don't have time to answer any questions tonight guys, sorry. I'm having a cookout. As long as I'm not too hungover, I'll log on tomorrow to answer these questions.

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My milage isn't bad, close to 20 mpg, which is fantastic for a full size.

Thanks, kind of what I was thinking.

Another question. After I did my plug change, the plugs seem to come loose. I used loc tight and torqued them to specs, but still I'll hear that tapping every once in a while and bang, out comes a plug. What can I do?

I already had to do one helli coil, stupid 3 threads in aluminum heads, thanks Ford. I don't like Ford either anymore. This truck has made me a life long Chevy fan now.

Also, and this one is important. The Coils love to die on me. I have replaced them about 10 times now, over 3 years. Why will they not last? It seems they like to build moisture up before quiting. I don't know how to seel them up and would worry about building to much heat if I did. I have tryed a little/ a lot of electrode grease with no results.

Anything for that one?

Well, 20 mpg on any full size truck is pretty damn good.

As far as your spark plug problem, it sure is a pain in the ass having to heli coil the head all of those times. Shouldn't you be using "anti sieze" on your plugs instead of "lock tite"? I would assume that the plugs are becoming siezed in the head and pulling out the threads somehow. I haven't seen this problem at all though, which leads me to believing you might be doing something wrong. Personally, I don't use the torque specs when tightening down spark plugs (which is usually just on my personal vehicles), instead I just use the old German "guten tight" adage.

As far as your coil problem. I see it all the time, nice Ford design to blame on that one. Usually if a customer has a bad coil, we recommend to replace all 8 (because of the coil-over-plug design, there are 8 individual ignition coils for each spark plug). We find that if we only replace one coil, others will fail soon afterwords. The customer comes back because they think we botched the repair (same symptom, same check engine light), and we have to explain that it's a another coil that fails. On Fords (and Mazda's too, which uses the Ford coil design), we will always recommend to replace all 8 (or 6 or 4) ignition coils because of the exact problem you have. It would probably be worthwile to try an aftermarket coil (we use Carquest and another local distributor) because they may have solved some of the problems that Ford's coil design has.

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Thanks, I will give it a shot tonight. So far beating the hell out of it has accomplished nothing. If this works, its as simple as you can get!

2000 Buick Regal BTW.

I agree with twa here. If the key isn't worn, it will probably need to have the ignition lock replaced. Couple of other things to add, GM ignition locks fail at a rate greater than other makes. Not that GM igniton locks are hugely problematic, but if a vehicle's ignition lock fails, I find it likely to be a GM vehicle. Also, if you have a lot of things hanging off of your keychain, this weight will cause premature wear on your ignition lock.

SS, great thread man. I don't care what your girl says, its a great idea and appreciated. :cheers:

Thanks. I usually don't care what she says anyhow.:laugh:

Thanks for the appreciation though, I'm glad to help.

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I was (a mechanic). I had a garage building hot rods. Used to race trucks and worked in a junkyard for years.

Another question. After I did my plug change, the plugs seem to come loose. I used loc tight and torqued them to specs, but still I'll hear that tapping every once in a while and bang, out comes a plug. What can I do?

I already had to do one helli coil, stupid 3 threads in aluminum heads, thanks Ford.

Something tells me these two situations are not coincidences :laugh:

Loctite on spark plugs? Alrighty then. You probably stripped the threads putting the plugs in.

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I agree with twa here. If the key isn't worn, it will probably need to have the ignition lock replaced. Couple of other things to add, GM ignition locks fail at a rate greater than other makes. Not that GM igniton locks are hugely problematic, but if a vehicle's ignition lock fails, I find it likely to be a GM vehicle. Also, if you have a lot of things hanging off of your keychain, this weight will cause premature wear on your ignition lock.

Also curious if the key is original or one that had to get made at some point. Sometimes a locksmith doesn't do a good job and that key that never seemed to work just right wears out the lock cylinder.

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