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The Car Doctor - March 27, 2008

Rusty windshield pan, intermittent no-starts, battery-draining radio

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John Paul, AAA Car Doctor
March 27, 2008

Q. I have an Acura Integra with nearly 200,000 miles on it, and I keep it in good condition. It drives beautifully, still getting 30 miles per gallon. At one point I had the windshield replaced, and several years later the car began to leak. It comes down the passenger's side - not from the windshield directly - and drips on the floor; the water channels down and drips from above the passenger's feet. I was told the rust is under the replacement window and caused by the improper renewal of whatever holds the window on. I keep the car covered when it rains, but I am thinking of having the windshield replaced again with the idea of repairing the rust. Do you think this will work?

A. The windshield pan has started to rust out and is causing the leak. You will need to have the windshield removed and have a body shop repair the rust damage. Once the rust is repaired, the windshield should seal properly and there should be no more leaks.

Q. I can't seem to solve a problem with my 2001 PT Cruiser. The car was delivered in July 2000 and I purchased it used in March 2001. It has been mostly trouble-free - until now. I'm not sure what the problem is, but these symptoms have occurred twice in the past six months: The radio will malfunction, starting with losing manual tuning ability, getting progressively worse, and eventually quitting completely, including the clock function. This sequence may take place over several days to a couple of weeks. After the radio quits completely, the car won't start the following morning due to a dead battery. The car will start with jumper cables or after charging the battery with an external charger. After the car starts, the radio works normally again. All the preset stations remain but I need to reset the clock. I miss your Saturday mornings on the radio; too bad your station switched formats.

A. The problem is most likely the radio. Certain model radios were subject to an intermittent short, which could cause the battery to fail. In other cases, there have been some problems with wiring that connects to the control module that can cause a very similar result. At this point, I would want to check for an excessive electrical draw to determine the exact cause of the problem. Still, I think you are going to find it will need a radio. By the way, you can still catch me on the radio Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 on WROL AM 950.

Q. My 1996 Jeep Cherokee stalls while driving in extremely cold weather. We always let the car warm up before driving - especially when it is very cold. I notice the stalling seems to happen when the gas tank is only around a quarter full. My husband says the gas isn't a factor, but my gut feeling tells me it may be. What do you think?

A. The most common problem with this vehicle is a faulty crank shaft sensor - although it is possible the problem could be related to the fuel pump. A technician could install a fuel pressure gauge and measure the fuel pressure with both a full and nearly empty fuel tank. If the fuel pressure is low with the nearly empty tank, the fuel pump could be the culprit.

Q. I am having trouble starting my 2004 Chevy Trailblazer. When I went to start my truck by turning on the ignition, nothing happened. I brought it to a shop, where it started two days later. A week later it once again would not start; I brought it to the repair shop and it started again. They could not figure out the problem. Can you help me?

A. It is always difficult to repair a vehicle when the problem is intermittent. One common issue is with this vehicle's anti-theft system. There have been many reported cases of faulty ignition switches, which can cause an intermittent no-start.

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