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More questions and answers about auto care

April 4, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

- Pete from Fort Myers Beach asks: My car has been running rough lately, and a friend says I should have my timing belt replaced to fix it. Could this be the problem?

- Pete, probably not. The timing belt will not affect the way the car runs unless it breaks, at which time the engine will stop. These belts don't slip or squeal when they're worn, they have teeth in them to keep the various shafts in correct timing with one another. There are two types of engines using timing belts, called interference engines, and freewheeling engines. If the belt breaks on an interference engine it results in very expensive damage to the valves. In a freewheeling engine, no damage results, but in either case the engine stops on the spot. Some engines use steel chains instead of timing belts, and these seldom break. Your manufacturer is the authority on when to change the belt. Some may call for 60,000 miles, some for 90,000 or more, but it is a limit one should not exceed.

Now it's my turn Pete. Why do we elect our sheriffs? What is the difference between Democrat law enforcement and Republican law enforcement? And how about electing judges? How in the world would we know a good judge from a bad one?

- Shirley from Sanibel asks: A light on my dash says ABS. What does it mean, and do I have to fix it? My brakes feel OK to me.

- Shirley, a guy came in the other day with his own part he had bought to fix his air bags, but he didn't know where to install it. It turned out he thought ABS stood for air bag system. It doesn't. It stands for Anti Ballistic Missile system. Just kidding. It stands for ANTILOCK BRAKE SYSTEM. If the light is on, it means your antilock brake system will not work if you need it. You do still have conventional brakes, but in a "both feet on the pedal, butt-off-the-seat white-knuckle panic" type of stop, you will find yourself skidding out of control. With a working antilock system, you would be able to steer while you stopped, with your butt on the seat, and you would stop sooner. About fixing it? You decide.

Now Shirley, you tell me why I have to get cable channels I don't want in order to get channels I do want. Bundling, schmundling, do you think someone is getting paid off to subsidize unpopular channels? Who and why? Where are investigative reporters when you need one?

- Roman, from Michigan, (off the website) says: My 2002 Buick Rendezvous seems to run cooler than normal, and the heater doesn't put out much heat. What could the problem be?

- Friend Roman, lend me your ear. It sounds like your thermostat is stuck open, or someone has removed it. Unfortunately your car has a very difficult thermostat to access. It's more that a three-hour job, but you need to do it because running your engine at the cooler temperature is causing your fuel system to run richer, which washes oil from the cylinder walls increasing the wear and tear. It needs to have an operable thermostat of 190 degrees before the fuel system can operate at optimum efficiency. Cooler is not better. Warmer is better. It's why we live in Florida instead of Michigan. (No offense).

 
 

 

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