Q. I watch a fair amount of television and all the celebrities seems to drive Range Rovers. Are these cars worth the money and what makes them so special?
A. The Range Rover is a very nice vehicle. It has the capability to go just about anywhere, a high quality premium luxury interior and several powerful engine choices. Regarding the popularity with “Hollywood” types; the Range Rover is a status symbol, the same as a fur coat, Rolex watch or Louis Vuitton bag. After all, a good insulated parka would keep you warmer than a fur and a Timex may keep as good or better time than a Rolex and NineWest handbag can hold your stuff. When it comes to vehicles, a Jeep Grand Cherokee can most likely do everything a Range Rover can, but just doesn’t have the status of a Range Rover.
Q. I recently wanted to check the air pressure of the tires on my car after hearing you talk about how important it is on your radio program. I noticed that one of the valve stems was bent and the air gauge wouldn’t read any pressure. I went to a local tire store to inquire about having the valve stem replaced and was told that it would cost about $120.00. Is this possible?
A. It certainly is possible if your car uses a tire pressure monitoring system. Some of these systems use a sensor that is part of the valve stem. This sensor transmits information to the car’s computer to let the driver know if there is a low tire. Regarding cost, you could also look on line. As we are seeing these sensors fail due to age (they are battery powered) more reasonable priced universal sensors are coming to market.
Q. I purchased a 2005 Toyota Camry from a neighbor and the engine sounds loud. When I asked him about it he said it was like this since day one. It is louder when the car is cold and I have been warming it up before I drive. Is there some sort of valve adjustment to stop this noise?
A. The valves in this engine are adjustable and they should certainly be checked, though the noise may be coming from a variety sources. A common problem with some of these models is the tensioner for the drive belt which will rattle and make noise, as well as a failure of the harmonic balancer (recent recall). A good technician should be able to determine where the noise is coming from with a mechanic’s stethoscope or other suitable tool.
Q. After driving on some dirt roads in Vermont, I am now hearing a loud sound from the driver’s side of the car. It sounds like a loud muffler noise, like there might be a hole in the muffler or broken pipe. But here is the weird part, I parked at night and the sound was not there but when I started the vehicle the next morning I immediately heard this noise and I think it is starting to get louder. The other problem is I borrowed the car from a friend, what do you think?
A. The problem could be a cracked exhaust manifold or exhaust pipe. When the engine gets hot, the crack expands and seals itself. I would recommend leaving the car overnight at a repair shop to allow the mechanic to start the engine when it is cold. This should help pinpoint the leak. If you drove the car reasonably while it was in your possession the loud exhaust was not your fault. Although I would also let your friend know what is going on and a nice gesture would be to offer to help with any costs. John Paul, the “Car Doctor,” is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England and a columnist for Boston.com. A certified master technician, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on 950 WROL in Boston (www.wrolradio.com) on Saturday mornings at 9. Need car advice? E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.boston.com/cardoctor for past columns, tips, and repair help.