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The "Ask a Mechanic" Thread


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Prolly double whatever it is in Texas :silly:

I'll supply the starter.

DLSF knows a couple motorheads. Maybe they'll do it for $100 bucks.

Probably so:D,ours is $65 mech with a few dealers at 80

it varies greatly...

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Ok... so whenever i start my car (2001 pathfinder) the exhaust smells very heavy of fuel. My first thought was either the charcoal capsul or the catalytic converter. The smell is never present if the car has not been running. Im guessing catalytic converter just because i also have a problem with it where the very outer "shield" on it is pretty corroded and pulling away.

Does it make sense that the catalytic converter if not functioning well would cause that smell, or do i just have 2 unique problems here (one with the corroded converter and another causing the smell)

Thanks

Edited by Brad_Edwards_Fan
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Yeah. I also need time.

Anybody know what the approx. cost would be for a shop to do this? My daughter's pissed because she has no car...

:violin:

Are you sure its the starter causing the problem? Its sounds like it could be in your ignition switch. Sometimes the contacts get worn out and they work when they want to. I'm only saying this cause your dash lights go.

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2005 Saturn Relay.

I think I may have 2 issues, but I dont know.

1) My gas gauge seems to like to play hide-n-seek, sometimes it will read correctly and then upon the next start it reads something completely different. example: yesterday sitting in the driveway start #1 - near full (correct) then I turned it off and restarted a few seconds later and the gas light came on and the message center was telling me "low fuel".

2) This just started. My fan (for AC) is fluctuating. It is kinda "pulsing" the air out of the registers. Could this possibly be related to the dimming lights (interior and exterior) that I have been experiencing?

and to compound these issues the check engine light has now decided to make an appearance.

van ~> :chair: <~ me

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Are you sure its the starter causing the problem? Its sounds like it could be in your ignition switch. Sometimes the contacts get worn out and they work when they want to. I'm only saying this cause your dash lights go.
I'm not sure, but I think so. I've read that this exact thing is common with starters on Corollas. Thanks
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Mark, without knowing proper car terminology, could it possibly be the computer that regulates power to everything. My wife's old Corolla (2006) decided one day to just not turn over anymore, much the way you're describing. Wasn't the starter or anything, the entire computer had died. It was replaced for free by the dealership but took three weeks. We were told it was a known problem in that model year, and they were rolling out replacement parts, so I don't know if a '99 would have the same issues. Just figured I'd ask since it sounde familiar.

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2005 Saturn Relay.

I think I may have 2 issues, but I dont know.

1) My gas gauge seems to like to play hide-n-seek, sometimes it will read correctly and then upon the next start it reads something completely different. example: yesterday sitting in the driveway start #1 - near full (correct) then I turned it off and restarted a few seconds later and the gas light came on and the message center was telling me "low fuel".

2) This just started. My fan (for AC) is fluctuating. It is kinda "pulsing" the air out of the registers. Could this possibly be related to the dimming lights (interior and exterior) that I have been experiencing?

and to compound these issues the check engine light has now decided to make an appearance.

van ~> :chair: <~ me

That's sound like a ground problem to me Capt.I would check at the battery first and then start checking plugs for corrosion.

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Okay - now that a solid 10 + weeks has passed, and the car is no longer reliable, I am trying to replace the starter.

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you Mark. I haven't been very active in ES for a week or so.

There has to be a way to get the starter out without removing the intake manifold. The "how-to" you supplied says that there is a coolant elbow going to the intake you have to remove to gain access to the top bolt. Also the fan has to come out as well.

Keep on trying. First thing is to locate the bolts and then after that, find the easiest way to remove them.

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Ok... so whenever i start my car (2001 pathfinder) the exhaust smells very heavy of fuel. My first thought was either the charcoal capsul or the catalytic converter. The smell is never present if the car has not been running. Im guessing catalytic converter just because i also have a problem with it where the very outer "shield" on it is pretty corroded and pulling away.

Does it make sense that the catalytic converter if not functioning well would cause that smell, or do i just have 2 unique problems here (one with the corroded converter and another causing the smell)

Thanks

The exhaust probably smells very heavy of fuel because it's running super rich. There could be a fuel control problem causing that. If I remember correctly, there is a thermostatic switch on the throttle that often fails causing a super rich running condition.

The converter is not your problem. When converters fail, they don't smell like fuel and the smell usually gets worse the hotter it gets. When converters fail, they smell like sulfur (or rotten eggs).

By corroded, I assume you mean rusted. It sounds like you are talking about the heat shield around the converter. There is no problem there, the rust is normal. You can try and replace the shields or remove them.

Also, is the Check Engine Light on? If it isn't, you can certainly rule out a failed converter. If it is, I'd scan for codes and begin your diagnosis there.

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2005 Saturn Relay.

I think I may have 2 issues, but I dont know.

1) My gas gauge seems to like to play hide-n-seek, sometimes it will read correctly and then upon the next start it reads something completely different. example: yesterday sitting in the driveway start #1 - near full (correct) then I turned it off and restarted a few seconds later and the gas light came on and the message center was telling me "low fuel".

2) This just started. My fan (for AC) is fluctuating. It is kinda "pulsing" the air out of the registers. Could this possibly be related to the dimming lights (interior and exterior) that I have been experiencing?

and to compound these issues the check engine light has now decided to make an appearance.

van ~> :chair: <~ me

Capt...

To answer #1: You will need a fuel sending unit. The fuel sending unit includes the fuel pump and all of the electrical components in the tank with the pump. This includes the fuel level sensor. Over time the contacts on the sensor will wear out. When the sensor reaches a worn out contact, the circuit will lose continuity and cause the gauge to drop down to zero.

This problem is probably also related to your fuel gauge problem. If you take it AutoZone and have them scan it for free, I'd bet you $5 that you would get a code with something to the effect of "Fuel level sensor insufficient voltage". I'd pay up if I were wrong too.

To answer #2: It may or may not be related to your dimming lights. It could be a sign that your blower motor (the part that blows air into the car) is failing. It could also be a sign that your charging system (alternator) is starting to fail. A blower motor is a large draw on the electrical system. It could also be a sign that you have wires that are shorting as well.

I wish I had better advice for problem #2 but I'd really have to see what it was doing to have a better idea of what is wrong. Do the lights dimming happen in sync with the blower pulsing?

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Mark, without knowing proper car terminology, could it possibly be the computer that regulates power to everything. My wife's old Corolla (2006) decided one day to just not turn over anymore, much the way you're describing. Wasn't the starter or anything, the entire computer had died. It was replaced for free by the dealership but took three weeks. We were told it was a known problem in that model year, and they were rolling out replacement parts, so I don't know if a '99 would have the same issues. Just figured I'd ask since it sounde familiar.

There is no "computer that regulates power to everything".

I'll try and explain it as simply as I can...

Every vehicle, and every electrical component in a vehicle runs on DC (direct current). It's like your PC or your iPod or your TV... all of it, DC. The batter in your car supplies DC power. The alternator however, generates power in AC (alternating current). AC and DC do not mix, there needs to be a power inverter to change AC into DC so that the car can have electrical power. Inside the alternator, there is are diodes and a voltage regulator. The voltage regulator assures that there is a constant supply of power for all of the electrical components.

Once all of that power has been created, it has to go throughout the car. The power distribution center sends power to needed circuits. It does this with relays (read: on/off switch) that can be turned on or off to power a circuit as needed. Inside the power distribution center there are also fuses that protect all of these circuits in a car.

Now that we have the charging system (alternator and battery) and power distribution system (basic relays and fuses), there has to be something there to control them. There are computers that handle the on/off switching of the relays. There is a computer that controls the engine on every car. There are also, on some newer cars, computers that control the body (read: lighting, interior, etc.), transmission, traction control, air bags, and four wheel drive. All of these computers work together to make sure the car runs correctly.

So the computers. I'm not going to get too in depth in the computers (sometimes called modules). They take basic input readings and apply those to and output. For instance, an O2 sensor is an input device. The output device would be a fuel injector that is fired based on the input readings from the O2 sensor.

Ah hell... I've made it too complicated. Sorry. :)

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Sorry for taking so long to get back to you Mark. I haven't been very active in ES for a week or so.

There has to be a way to get the starter out without removing the intake manifold. The "how-to" you supplied says that there is a coolant elbow going to the intake you have to remove to gain access to the top bolt. Also the fan has to come out as well.

Keep on trying. First thing is to locate the bolts and then after that, find the easiest way to remove them.

I think you're right. It doesn't make sense to have to remove the intake.

But my engine doesn't seem to match the guy's explanation. Everything makes sense until I get to the "plastic elbow". There is no plastic elbow that I can see. And btw, what you see there is the solonoid. The starter motor, with its mounting bolts, is behind the solonoid. Naturally. :)

Look for yourself. Do you see a plastic elbow? I see the upper radiator hose. That's easy. The bracket that holds the air box to the engine is plainly visible (but not on the pic). But there's no plastic elbow.

attachment.php?attachmentid=40942&stc=1&d=1244652825.jpg

This car came with five different engines in 1999. So how do I know this guy is referring to my 1ZZFE engine? But his explanation makes sense up to the plastic elbow.

I do think it's a bad starter. The clicking sound seems to be coming from the starter. If you click it enough times, it will suddenly engage and turn the engine over rapidly.

SS - nice post above. Very well explained, even if it doesn't apply to me. :)

Edited by Mark The Homer
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I do think it's a bad starter. The clicking sound seems to be coming from the starter. If you click it enough times, it will suddenly engage and turn the engine over rapidly.

:)

I think you are right Mark.

You might as well replace the whole starter BTW.

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Look for yourself. Do you see a plastic elbow? I see the upper radiator hose. That's easy. The bracket that holds the air box to the engine is plainly visible (but not on the pic). But there's no plastic elbow.

The next time we have one in the shop, I'll make a conscious effort to check it out. It sounds like in that guys explanation, the plastic elbow goes to the intake manifold. I wish I could be a better help for you right now.

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The job's done. One of DLSF's motorhead friends came over and did it for tacos. He disconnected an end of the top radiator hose and pinned it out of the way. He took out the plastic fan assy on the right side. He unplugged that grey electronic plug thing way on the right side of the photo. From there he was able to reach in and feel the top bolt. And remove it. The bolt was coming at the starter from the opposite direction as the bottom bolt :doh: So the bolt head was way over on the right. Plus he changed the oil and fixed the plaster bumper corner that DLSF managed to rip loose last winter. The whole thing took him about 2 hours plus driving time to Advanced Auto.

I gave him $100 cash. And tacos.

Thanks for your help, guys!

Edited by Mark The Homer
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2003 Mitsubishi Montero - 61,000 miles

After getting an oil change and tire rotation at Tires Plus, I was told that my rear shocks are leaking and it is causing uneven tire wear. It was recommended that I replace my front and rear shocks. Total cost out the door is $576.

1. At 60,000 miles do shocks normally need to be replaced? I'll plan on keeping the car for another 20,000 miles or so.

2. Assuming the shocks (all 4?) need to be replaced, is $576 a fair price?

Thanks in advance.

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2003 Mitsubishi Montero - 61,000 miles

After getting an oil change and tire rotation at Tires Plus, I was told that my rear shocks are leaking and it is causing uneven tire wear. It was recommended that I replace my front and rear shocks. Total cost out the door is $576.

1. At 60,000 miles do shocks normally need to be replaced? I'll plan on keeping the car for another 20,000 miles or so.

2. Assuming the shocks (all 4?) need to be replaced, is $576 a fair price?

Thanks in advance.

Seems a bit high,but not unreasonable for Struts;)(especially if that includes alignment)

I think they should last longer than that,but it depends on the abuse/driving style

Edited by twa
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Seems a bit high,but not unreasonable for Struts;)(especially if that includes alignment)

I think they should last longer than that,but it depends on the abuse/driving style

Thanks for the info. I does not include alignment, that is $79 extra. I drive about 10,000 miles a year...mostly highway.

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Thanks for the info. I does not include alignment, that is $79 extra. I drive about 10,000 miles a year...mostly highway.

I would check around on prices and get another opinion/price,but any leaking certainly need replaced.

I would expect 100k miles or more from struts if not abused.

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What is your opinion on transmission and engine flushes?

I'm all for them.

(from page 2)

I much perfer a flush over a drain and fill. Reason being, the flush gets 100% of the fluid out, and with a great cleaner pre-flush much of the dirt as well. My main issue with a drain and fill is that it doesn't remove all of the transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid is a detergent, meaning one of it's purposes is to clean. Anyone remember the old "fix" of adding a drop of ATF into the combustion chamber when changing spark plugs to clean the combustion chamber and help seal the piston rings? ATF being a detergent is the reason that one worked.

When you don't replace 100% of the ATF, you have a couple of quarts of old fluid beaing cleaned with the new fluid. If that fluid was pretty dark to begin with, the fluid will be back to the same within several thousand miles.

The only case I would even think of recommending a drain and fill over a flush would be if a vehicle had transmission problems and the fluid was black. Likely that car will need a transmission anyhow, but that would be the least entrusive route to take given the circumstances.

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