Why does my car keep making this noise?

John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,’’ answers readers’ car-related questions.
John Paul, aka “the Car Doctor,’’ answers readers’ car-related questions.

Q. I have a 2003 Buick LeSabre with about 90,000 miles on it. I recently had the rear brakes (pads and rotors) replaced both because of wear and a noise. I would get the noise as I pulled out of the garage dragging my brakes. I cannot describe the noise other than it is not the noise made by the worn brake indicator. The noise was there when I turned right or left and only when I was dragging my brakes. I went back to the shop that installed the brakes and they in turn replaced the pads. A couple of days later the noise returned. I left the car at the shop overnight and the owner drove it the next morning and stated he heard the ungodly noise and proceeded to replace both pads and rotors. The noise is back and can be heard anytime I am at a slow speed and dragging my brakes. I hate bringing the car back without some explanation what might be causing the noise other than the pads or rotors. Is it the aftermarket products and should I only use Buick parts, what are we missing?


A. Since the noise goes away after the car is serviced (even if it is for a day or two) the shop is on the right track. The one part of the brake system that was not replaced is the brake calipers. The calipers on this model also incorporate the mechanical part of the parking brake. The other possibility is part of the rear suspension is worn enough to cause the noise when braking. Both of these areas are where I would start looking for the cause of the noise.

Q. I am interested in buying a six-cylinder SUV and wanted to know what you would recommend for the best make and model. Can you also advise if a two seat or three seat one is best?

A. This is a very competitive segment and there are some great choices. The latest Kia Sorento is quite good as is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It really depends on your needs and budget. As of today I believe one of the best three row SUVs you can buy is the latest Honda Pilot. It is comfortable, handles well,returns decent fuel economy and holds it value better than the competition.

Q. I am interested in buying a preowned small SUV that is 4-5 years old. I am considering Honda, Toyota and Subaru. What are your thoughts on these vehicles?


A. At five years old they can all be good and bad choices depending on how they were treated. The Honda CR-V continues to be a very practical and fuel efficient vehicle and depending on the condition would be my first choice. The Toyota to me just isn’t quite as comfortable, but wins out in performance since some models came with a more powerful V-6 engine. The Subaru even as late as the 2010 model can suffer from head-gasket issues and should be checked over carefully, prior to purchase. In fact any used car should be carefully inspected for both prior body damage and mechanical issues before purchasing.

Q. I currently drive a 2009 Toyota Prius. I am looking at new cars, probably for the 2017 model year. I have an interest in the Chevy Volt with its improved electric driving range (over 50 miles). I generally do not drive more than 57 miles on most days. I also have an interest in the Chevy Bolt although I would not consider it during the first year of production. Would you be concerned about the recent reliability ratings for Chevrolet? What are your thoughts on these vehicles? Are there any other electric or hybrid cars you would suggest? My second question is how much does it cost to install a quick charging system in a garage?

A. The Prius to me is still one of the best hybrid cars available today, for me it just does everything right. The fuel economy is fantastic, the ride and handling are great for day-to-day driving and it has plenty of interior storage. The Chevy Volt has been a good car up to this point but it is too early to tell how it will do. The Bolt is just too early to tell and I would wait. Even the expensive Tesla has been faced with some quality issues. One car that I would take a look at is the latest Nissan Leaf. The 2016 model has been improved and promises 107 mile range and perhaps even a little more range for 2017 model. Regarding the home charging station, the prices have come down quite a bit. You can now purchase a basic level II charging station for as little as $500. The installation labor will vary depending on your home electrical service and location. Electricians tell me to expect to spend about $1000 for basic labor and permits.


Q. I have a 1976 Cadillac Coupe Deville that has 75,000 on it. The car is in fantastic shape except for one problem – the power steering system. When I first got the car it suffered from horrible drift that these era cars are known for. I had the steering box replaced some years back and have inherited a problem that’s plagued me since – every time I turn the car hard right or left power steering fluid sprays out from the steering box cover and all over the exhaust manifold. I’ve had two new gearboxes installed and the same thing happens. Any ideas? I’m about to replace all the remaining components – the pump and the hoses; and I have a lightly used steering box from an Eldorado I can ultimately swap in if nothing else works but I hate blindly swapping parts without knowing why something’s happening. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

A. Could the problem be as simple as the power steering fluid level is just too high? As the steering is moved from left to right the fluid level will change and if overfilled will come out of the reservoir. The other possibility is the return hose has failed and collapsed internally and it acting like a valve not letting the fluid return back to the pump.

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