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The Car Doctor

Removing a vinyl roof, air bag light, stalling Saab

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John Paul, AAA Car Doctor
April 24, 2008

Q. I am interested in purchasing a 1999 Lincoln Town Car but was turned off by the vinyl rooftop. My question is, is it possible to strip the roof of the vinyl and have it painted the same color as the car? If it is possible to do this where would I have to go to have this process done and how much would it cost me?

A. Any good body shop should be able to do this type of work. The problem is you don't know what is under the top until it is removed. Removing the top could reveal a serious layer of rust that could add to the expense of refinishing the roof.

Q. My Toyota Tacoma is approaching 30,000 miles and the dealership is suggesting a $400 service visit. Do you think this is worth it or are they just trying to make some money from me?

A. According to www.alldata.com, the data base I use for technical information the 30,000 mile service is a series of checks with an oil change, replacement of the air filter, cabin filter and a tire rotation. The dealer may be adding some addition service items to the 30,000 mile check. If you want the dealer to do the service use your vehicle owner's manual as a guide.

Q. My 1999 Chevrolet Impala has the air bag light on all of the time. I am told this means that the air bag is disconnected, what is usually the remedy in this case? Also, will I be able to get an inspection sticker with the air bag light on?

A. The air bag light is a warning that the air bag system has a problem and will not work when you need it. A technician will take a computer scan tool and test the system looking for a code which should lead them to the part which has failed. The problem could a faulty sensor or broken wire. Currently in Massachusetts you can pass inspection with the air bag light illuminated, although that rule will be changing in the near future.

Q. I have just recently bought my first car, a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue with 107,000 miles on it. There is a problem with the turn signals and hazard lights. When I put a turn signal on (both left and right), the turn signal indicators blink very rapidly, as do the rear hazard lights. However, the front hazard lights do not blink at all. When I press the hazard warning switch, again the rear lights blink rapidly yet the front ones do no blink at all. We have changed the bulbs, and checked the fuse (the fuse was fine). Any idea what the problem could be?

A. The quick flashing indicator is a bulb out signal. Take a very good look all the bulbs as well as the bulb sockets. If the bulbs are okay, I have seen many cases where the socket will melt and cause a poor connection. The other possible issue could be a faulty turn signal (multi function) switch.

Q. My daughter has a 1999 Saab 9-3 with 120,000 miles. Recently she has been having a problem with it stalling. She can be sitting at a light and it just cuts out and every time she fills the gas tank and you restart the car it then stalls. It has been to a Saab dealer three times and although she spent over $700, the car still stalls. Now the check engine light is on. Any suggestions?

A. The check engine light may be a clue to the stalling problem. A technician will use a computer scan tool to retrieve a fault code to properly diagnose the problem. The most common problem with some Saabs is a faulty purge valve. The purge valve is part of the evaporative emissions system.

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