Q. My wife and I are shopping for a third row car, and have pretty much settled on the GMC Acadia (I am a tall guy and most other cars don't fit me comfortably). We are searching for a used Acadia and have found a few in our price range. We found a 2010 GMC Acadia with 45,000 miles. Is this too many miles for this year and model vehicle? I feel like GMC has done a good job with their recent vehicles and we want to own something reliable for the next eight years. By the way, I really enjoy your columns and listening to you on the radio.
A. Today, any vehicle with a reasonable amount of maintenance can easily last 200,000 miles or more. Although 45,000 miles may be a little high for a two year old vehicle, it would not deter me from buying the vehicle. That said I would pay a technician to perform an inspection before you buy the vehicle.
Q. I own a 2001 Saab 9.3 convertible that from time to time will not start. We push the bottom on the key fob and try again and after a while, no set time, the car starts. I have no idea what the problem is or when it will happen. Any ideas?
A. From your description, it is easy to think the ignition switch may be a problem, especially considering its location between the front seats and it propensity to become contaminated. Before I changed the switch, I would check the terminals at the starter motor. These terminals have been known to build up with corrosion and cause an intermittent no start condition.
Q. I have a nagging problem with my Dodge Durango. It won’t idle, just shuts down for no apparent reason. It is acting like the battery went dead. It started with a slow start leading to needing a jump. It would only run if I kept my foot on the gas. I got home and parked the truck. It started right up the next day and idled fine. I drove about a mile and got to the store. The truck died as soon as I took my foot off the gas. I drove home two-footed and parked it. I restarted the truck each day for the next two days and it idled and ran fine. The alternator is putting out about 14 volts, but I noticed if I put everything on, lights, heat, it would show discharge at idle. I had the alternator checked off the truck and it was fine, what is wrong?
A. Your truck like many vehicles uses the vehicle’s computer system as part of the charging system. I would want to take a very good look at the electrical power supplies and ground circuits for the trucks computer. It is possible a poor connection is causing the alternator to not charge when the vehicle is under a load and causing the truck to run out of electricity.
Q. We own a 2006 Buick Lucerne CXL. I am having a problem getting the car out of park when the car is on an incline. I have to keep yanking on the gear shifter to get it into drive. If I remember in time, I engage the emergency brake before putting it in park and then I'm okay. Does this imply a transmission problem?
A. The problem does sound as if the parking “pawl” is worn and causing the difficulty in shifting from park when the car is on an incline. The first place to start is looking for some basic wear and tear. If there is nothing obvious, then there would be some disassembly of the transmission to inspect the parking pawl and detent assembly fix the problem.
Q. The local dealer’s mechanic reprogrammed the computer in my 2001 impala LS to correct a continuous stalling problem about two years ago. Since then I have had a discrepancy with the fuel consumption reading on my display monitor. The reading has been off, indicating there are about two gallons more gas remaining in the tank then there actually is. I've been told that the setting cannot be manually reset and that over time it will correct itself. This has not occurred. Can it be reset?
A. The fuel level sensor contains a variable resistor which changes resistance in correspondence with the amount of fuel in the fuel tank. The computer sends the fuel level information via a circuit to the instrument panel cluster which is then monitored by the car’s computer. Since this happened after the cars computer was reprogrammed, I would return back to the dealer to have them inspect their work.
Q. I am using a name brand oil filter but lately I have had a problem. Twice now, on two different cars, I have replaced the filter and they would only spin on by hand a couple of turns before they felt tight. I filled the engine with oil and started it up and oil started squirting out. I then tightened the filter with a wrench another three or four turns and everything was fine. Is it me getting old or are some of these filters problematic?
A. I would try a different brand of oil filter. An oil filter should spin-on easily the entire length of the threaded surface and then tighten by hand an additional three-quarter to one turn. You should never need to use a wrench to tighten an oil filter. If someone previously over-tightened the oil filter, it is possible that they damaged the threads on the engine.