Q. I have a 2004 Kia Sorento with 100,000 miles. I'm hearing a poof or whoosh sound coming from the rear end area whenever I accelerate. It makes this noise for a second, goes quiet for a second, and then makes the noise again. I have already put a $1000 into the problem at the KIA dealership with no help. The dealer's mechanic said he would "not stray far from home with this car". Do you have any ideas? I thought Sorento was a class act. Thanks!
A. I continue to be frustrated by repair shops that take a customer’s money and don’t repair the vehicle. Spending $1000 to fix a problem only to be told “don’t stray far from home with this car" without a diagnosis is ridiculous. The sound could be coming from the transfer case portion of the transmission.
Q. My son just purchased a 2011 car that was advertised as "certified pre owned" by the dealer. He negotiated the final number but once in the finance office they said the car would be an additional $600 to certify it and get the 100,000 mile drive train warranty. I feel something stinks here to me. Do you know how this whole certified program works?
A. Generally a car dealer will pay to have a car certified; the costs can be $1500 or more, but this should be factored into the advertized price. In my opinion, if the vehicle was advertised as certified, you shouldn’t have to pay additionally to have it certified. As an example, if a car was advertised as being completely reconditioned and having four new tires, it would be crazy to have to pay for the new tires and reconditioning after you purchased it.
Q. I have a 1994 Chevy pick-up with a 305 engine. I also have a 454 cubic in engine. Considering all the electronics today, is it possible to put the bigger engine in the truck?
A. With enough time and money you can do most anything. To change the engine you will need to look at all the electronics, the fuel system as well as the vehicle suspension. The 454 “big-block” is a several hundred of pounds heavier than the older 305 engine. Because of the weight difference, it could require some modification to the front suspension. Years ago I did almost exactly this swap and the end result worked well.
Q. My Ford Focus has less than 15,000 miles but my warranty has run out. Sometimes when I put my key into the ignition, it will not turn. I have to struggle to the turn the wheel with both hands then hold it with one hand while trying to put the key into the ignition at the same time and it will not go in. After several trys and struggling to turn the wheel to insert the key, it finally goes in and turns. Would you have any idea as to what is happening and has there been any recalls on this issue?
A. There have been binding problems with the ignition switches on the 2008-2010 Ford Focus. The repair involves replacing the ignition switch in the steering column. In addition, if the wheels are turned, this puts stress on the lock. In the future, always try to park with the steering wheel in a straight ahead direction.
Q. Is there a difference when a tire is inflated off the vehicle and pressure tested versus having the pressure tested while the weight of the vehicle is on the tire?
A. In my opinion there is no change in pressure, but I will say you got my mind thinking. Using “junkyard” engineering I measured the tire pressure in my car at 34 pounds and then added about 500 pounds to see it there was any change and there was not. I believe this is due to the fact that the tire contact area gets bigger. Physicists, feel free to weigh in with your opinion. My email is email@example.com
Readers: Tom O’Toole from Herb Chambers commented about a readers problem with Avalon headlight assemblies. Tom wanted readers to know that Toyota has a customer support program that extends the warranty to 5 years and 72,000 miles for light housing and bulbs for 2008-2010 vehicles. Thanks Tom!
The Car Doctor is looking for reader comments. Recently I received an email from a reader with a Honda Pilot that has had a problem with the brakes applying without any warning. This vehicle was a 2005 model. If you drive a Honda Pilot, let me know if you have had this experience.