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The "Ask a Mechanic" Thread


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Transmission fluid is a detergent. Engine oil is a lubricant.

must be why we used it to clean :)

I have heard of using non-detergent oil in 2 cycle engines...but that's a different critter

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I have a 2004 Ford Explorer - the battery light keeps blinking. It says in the manual "battery not charging correctlly."

Would this mean I need a new battery or is it something else, like the alternator - or just maybe the cold? Its been in the teens and 20's for the past week.

thanks for any advice!

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I have a 2004 Ford Explorer - the battery light keeps blinking. It says in the manual "battery not charging correctlly."

Would this mean I need a new battery or is it something else, like the alternator - or just maybe the cold? Its been in the teens and 20's for the past week.

thanks for any advice!

Is it a steady on/off blink or is it flickering?

More likely an issue with the charging system. I've seen that several times on older cars with external voltage regulators. The brushes wear out, make poor contact and you get the flickering battery light. Someone else can chime in on that particular car as to the alternator having an internal or external regulator. If external it might be a cheap fix.

Also could be something like a poor connection or a slipping belt but I think those would be less likely. Not too familiar with that particular car but I imagine it has a serpentine belt, not the old v belts so slipping belt is less likely.

Edited by DCsportsfan53
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I'd check for corrosion or loose connection on battery posts and wire to alternator, but probably is the regulator acting up(I believe that one is inside the alt)

The cold could be affecting the spring in a weak belt tensioner(I don't deal with cold much)

if the tensioner was it ,it should quit when the engine warms up

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Would a '99 Dodge be a today car, or yesterday car ? :)

Today car.

In general, anything that is 1996 or newer is a modern car. All of those cars are required to be OBD2 compliant. I'd argue that cars even older than that are "today's cars" but if you had to put a definitive date on a modern car, 1996 is about as good as you could get.

---------- Post added February-5th-2013 at 06:02 PM ----------

My mechanic says these things are really urgent

1) Front crankshaft oil seal ($230 for repair)

2) Front struts are getting week ($564 for repair)

3) Tune-up (spark lugs and air filter) $150!

What kind of car?

Year, make, model and any additional info as to why those things were suggested would be nice.

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Today car.

In general, anything that is 1996 or newer is a modern car. All of those cars are required to be OBD2 compliant. I'd argue that cars even older than that are "today's cars" but if you had to put a definitive date on a modern car, 1996 is about as good as you could get.

---------- Post added February-5th-2013 at 06:02 PM ----------

What kind of car?

Year, make, model and any additional info as to why those things were suggested would be nice.

its a 2002 toyota corolla with 105K. The crankshaft seal was required as he said my oil was leaking. The others were said to be done for "maintenance"

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I'm not sure I believe in mechanics. It seems the evidence is pretty shaky.

Is that a 1992 model or a 2001?

---------- Post added February-5th-2013 at 06:43 PM ----------

its a 2002 toyota corolla with 105K. The crankshaft seal was required as he said my oil was leaking. The others were said to be done for "maintenance"

If say that the prices are fairly reasonable depending on what part of Maryland you're in...

If you can spare the cash it's probably not a bad idea to do it. Fixing the crank seal will stop an oil leak. The other option would be to just monitor the oil level and make sure it doesn't get too low.

The struts would make for a better ride, as long as they are top quality struts.

I'd assume that the spark plugs are platinum or iridium and are probably due to be replaced every 100k or so if not sooner. There's no reason to replace them more frequently.

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Is that a 1992 model or a 2001?

---------- Post added February-5th-2013 at 06:43 PM ----------

If say that the prices are fairly reasonable depending on what part of Maryland you're in...

If you can spare the cash it's probably not a bad idea to do it. Fixing the crank seal will stop an oil leak. The other option would be to just monitor the oil level and make sure it doesn't get too low.

The struts would make for a better ride, as long as they are top quality struts.

I'd assume that the spark plugs are platinum or iridium and are probably due to be replaced every 100k or so if not sooner. There's no reason to replace them more frequently.

Thats what i am asking, i am not sure if the prices are legit or not. The crankshaft is 230 and the struts are 564

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i'm getting this work done in columbia, md

I'd assume that's a decent price.

It's really hard for me to say whether or not the price that you are quoted is fair or not. Parts and labor prices can vary from area to area, especially labor. My shop has a labor rate of $110 per hour. There are shops in the area that have a labor rate as high as $150 (or more) per hour and some that are as low as $80 per hour. That's just for Springfield and the neighboring areas. You could go 20 miles south and find labor rates as low as $40 or $50. That will make a huge difference in the price of the job to be done. To a lesser extent it's the same with parts.

You could have a job that is $200 in my area that only costs $150 or less elsewhere.

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Thanks guys.

I will be taking your advice, and sticking to putting just gas in the gas tank :)

No oil, no tranny fluid, no sugar, no ketchup, no salt, etc

Have you heard about cow magnets on the gas line?

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