News and Reviews

My car squeaks when I make a turn

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

Q. When it’s raining and when I make a turn in my car is squeaks for a while and then once the car is warmed up it no longer makes the noise. It sounds like its coming from under the hood on the right side.

A. This sounds like a classic example of a worn or loose drive belt. Since it happens when it is raining it should be easy to replicate the noise by spraying a soap and water mixture on the belts. As you are changing the belt take a close look at the belt tensioner and associated pulleys.

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Q. I am looking for best four year old car for my $11,000 budget can buy. I only travel about 6,000 miles a year, prefer a six-cylinder engine and a gear shift on the steering wheel. I have in mind a Chevy Impala, a Toyota Camry or Avalon, and a Hyundai but would consider other models.

A. The car on your list with the best track record is the Toyotas. The Hyundai Sonata as well as the Elantra would also be a good choice. The hardest part of your request is the column mounted shifter; the console shifter is the more popular design. One car not on your list is the Honda Accord and certainly worth a look. As an example in my area $11,000 would buy a seven year old Accord, six year old Camry, five year old Sonata and a two year old Elantra. Buying a smaller, newer car with lower mileage might make more sense than a mid-sized six or seven year old car with 80-90,000 miles on it. Whatever you choose have the car inspected by a reputable repair shop prior to purchasing it.

Q. Do new tires lose a little air every month? I bought an Audi A8 in September and every three months a light comes telling me my car has low tire pressure. It happened two times so far. When I checked the tires all four tires were low by five pounds and had to be inflated. The dealer added air and then said they reset the tire pressure system. When I asked about this the service advisor said this is normal and the system was working the way it was designed, is it?

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A. All tires will lose air over time. In cooler weather tires can lose one or two pounds of pressure per month. It takes a loss of five pounds of air to turn on a typical “low tire light’’ Since the tire pressure was actually low and the light came on the system is working as designed. It is always a good idea to check the tire pressure once a month with a tire gauge. The correct inflation pressure will be listed on a placard on the driver’s door.

Q. I’m a faithful listener to your radio program and really enjoy your old car trivia questions. I have yet to call in and guess but I’m curious about the car wax you giveaway as a prize. What kind is it and where can I buy it, you never actually say how to get it other than winning it.

A. The wax comes from a listener- Jay Davidson, Jay is an “old-car’’ guy and the wax gets great reviews, it is easy to use and lasts. You can email jay at [email protected]

Q. I inherited my granddad’s Mercury Grand Marquis (which I love to drive) but when the car warms up and I’m driving for an hour or so it hesitates and “cuts out’’. The “check-engine’’ light has been on and off but I don’t have a scan tool. My automotive experience comes from high school auto shop but so far I replaced the spark plugs and wires but that didn’t change anything. When the car acts up, if I let it sit for 30 minutes or so it is fine again. Do you think the catalytic converter is starting to plug up? Is there an easy way to check it without fancy testing equipment?

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A. In a shop they will use a back pressure tester to determine if the converter is at fault. Without this tool you could try removing the oxygen sensor or loosen the exhaust and see how the car performs. If the car is better, you know the converter is faulty. Although I think you may be on the wrong track, I would take a look at the ignition coils, it is not unusual that the ignition coil can fail over time and present the issue when the engine gets hot. If you are going to continue to work on cars buying an inexpensive code reader is money well spent.

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