Q. My husband and I show horses and it is time to upgrade the horse trailer and our truck. We have settled on a three-horse gooseneck trailer with living quarters and now need a truck to tow it. We are looking at a Ford diesel, what do you think?
A. I recently drove the Ford F350 SuperDuty pickup truck. The truck is big, although it drives well and rides very comfortably. This truck can easily tow your trailer. The truck I drove was also set up for a fifth-wheel hitch, similar to what you would need, and was capable of towing 22,800 pounds. My test model was also a Platinum edition truck which had every possible comfort, convenience, and safety feature that is currently available. I think the F350 SuperDuty, with its powerful and reasonably efficient diesel engine, would be a good choice.
Q. I have a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It has been a pretty good vehicle and at this point I keep it for winter travel and trips to the beach in the summer. I have a new Hyundai Santa Fe for long distance trips. Here is the problem: the heater/air conditioner was blowing hot air and wouldn’t cool at all. I swapped cars and drove the new Hyundai. The next time I used the Jeep, the same problem — no cool air — and it has been hot! I took it to my local mechanic, lifted the hood, and checked everything, but didn’t see anything “mechanically wrong” with it. Strangely, when I headed back home the A/C worked great. The mechanic suggested that I bring it to a Jeep specialist since it must be an electrical issue. Do you agree?
A. It is possible the blend door was simply stuck, and the bang of closing the hood allowed it to move and work. The blend door uses a plastic gear set, and they are prone to breaking. I would start by looking there first.
Q. I bought a cheap 2010 Chevrolet Malibu while I was visiting Nashville and drove it home. The car is really clean, but like every southern car I looked at, has 200,000 miles on it. Here is the problem: sometimes when I start the car it sounds like a rapid grinding banging noise. I took it to my local shop and they replaced the starter. The car is much better, but from time to time it makes the same noise. What could be wrong?
A. Judging by your description, the starter drive gear is not properly meshing with the engine’s ring gear/flywheel. I would start with removing the starter and inspecting the ring gear. The longer the starter was grinding, the more likely it could damage the engine’s flywheel/ring gear. If the ring gear is damaged, the labor cost to replace it will take about seven hours.
Q. I have a 2002 Porsche Boxster. I purchased it used a few years ago and it only has 23,000 miles on it. I have just learned about the IMS bearing failure issue. What is an IMS bearing, how important is it, and do I need to replace it proactively?
A. The intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing is an interesting failure on Porsches. Some Porsche experts will say that there are only two kinds of Porsches: the cars that the bearing is going to fail or the engines that have had the bearing replaced. Some enthusiast drivers will periodically have the oil analyzed looking for metal that would indicate the bearing was failing. If the bearing fails, there is a good chance that the engine will be destroyed. I have read that one-in-five Boxsters of your vintage will have a IMS failure. If it was my car and I wanted the piece of mind, I would be tempted to replace the bearing.
John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]