I own a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder and it had a squeaky belt since I bought it in 2006. It only squeaked when it was cold outside, and the squeak lessened as the car warmed up. I got tired of the noise so I replaced the serpentine belt a few months ago (the old one was pitted and cracked). Well, the noise stopped for a day or two. Now it squeaks in both cold and warm weather! And the noise is constant! However, it does stop when the car gets to a certain rpm. The noise is loud and drives me crazy. How can it be the belt when it is new? What else can it be? I am desperate.
Debbie from Portsmouth, N.H.
It sounds like the automatic belt tensioner has gone bad, which would cause the belt to squeak in both cold and warm weather. The tensioner is a spring-loaded idler pulley that rides against the back of the belt as it courses around the pulley system. When it goes bad, the belt squeals. Have it checked out. My guess is that it will need to be replaced. I wish you success.
The engine light was lit on my 2006 Lexus and the dealer diagnosed a bad catalytic converter, which is very expensive to replace. How important is it to replace the converter?
Rahim from Michigan
On a 2006 Lexus, if the converter were indeed bad, I would want to look for an uncontrolled high fuel delivery cause. Typically the temperature sensor goes bad and dumps raw fuel inside the engine. The converter can't process excessive, unburned, raw fuel so a rock of carbon forms and eventually stops the exhaust stream. This condition causes the vehicle to stall due to high backpressure. Yes, you do need to replace the converter. However, more importantly, you need to stop the uncontrolled fuel delivery to make sure the converter doesn't clog again.
I bought a new Lexus RX-350 recently. I was told to use premium gas. What is sacrificed if I don't? Also, gas seems to come in four grades, and none of them are called premium in my area. Is there a certain octane that I should use?
Alice from Doylestown, Pa.
Check your owner's manual for octane requirements. I would guess anything 89 and higher would be acceptable. The reason they told you to use premium is because the car has a high performance engine meaning that it has high compression pistons, creating a much hotter combustion chamber environment. Regular octane fuel ignites easier in such an environment because it's not as stable as premium fuel. If you use regular octane over a prolonged period of time, you will damage the engine. Success to you.
I own a 2003 Buick LeSabre. Recently, the front dash has separated a few inches from the windshield and it's rising up. The car is usually parked in a carport out of the sun, but on occasion I park it in the open. Is there a simple repair? My body shop tells me a new dash (part #10) would cost in excess of $700 and that is way beyond my budget. I live in Florida so keeping out of the sun is not an option.
David from Ft Lauderdale, Fla.
It is difficult for me to give you proper advice, since I can't see the problem to evaluate it. However, here goes - if the dash is pulling away from the vehicle's interior, I would get under the dash and try to move it while shining a light underneath to see if there are any loose mounting bolts. If the dashboard is coming away from the dash's foundational structure, then look for a loose or missing securing bolt. Finally, if the external pad is lifting up, go to your local body shop supply house and ask for a pad sealer. If it comes loose again after you glue it back into place, you will have to replace the dash. I hope this helps. Good luck.
Why don't carmakers have transition windows for cars that will keep the windows tinted during the day time and go back to normal when the sun goes down or when it is cloudy? This would help keep the car cool during the sun light hours. Did I invent something?
Ray from Florida
You might have done just that, Ray, and I agree. Why can't carmakers offer an option of Photo-Gray window glass for automobiles? Brilliant concept! I love it!
I recently purchased a new 6-cylinder Toyota Venza, and the carmaker recommends 87 octane. I have been using 89 octane. Is that harmful to the engine? Thank You.
Duane from Margate, N.J.
Using higher octane than the carmaker recommends is not detrimental to your vehicle. However, it IS detrimental to your wallet! And you don't get any better performance with a higher octane fuel in this case. Drop to 87 octane and enjoy the pleasures of driving a vehicle that costs you less. Best to you.
I own a 2000 Cadillac DeVille DTS with 63,000 miles. I am a 70-year-old lady and I drive very conservatively. Even so, the car has had two new motor mounts and two sets of tie rods installed from the dealer. I think this is very suspicious. The tie rods were only 3,000 miles apart. I mentioned this to the service manager but he said there was trouble with both motor mounts and tie rods on this car. Shouldn't there be a class action lawsuit?
Robin from Los Angeles
I researched the engine mount issue and found that the mounts on that car tend to degrade because the rubber portions of the mounts are exposed to the intense heat from the exhaust manifolds. There are updated mounts from Cadillac that can withstand higher temperatures. As for the tie rods, there are no problems listed from Cadillac, so I would question the quality of the parts that are being installed. Finally, there are no pending class actions on these problems with your car. Good luck.
'Til next time ... Keep Rollin'
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Tom Torbjornsen is an automotive expert of 37 years. An automotive journalist in good standing with the IMPA (International Motor Press Association) and MPG (Motor Press Guild), Torbjornsen is the Repair and Maintenance Editor for AOL Autos, At Home Portals, and many other websites. Hear his radio show AMERICA'S CAR SHOW, locally on AM 1340 WKSN via the SSI Radio Network Saturdays at noon and on Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel - Stars Too - Sirius 108 and XM 139; Sunday afternoons - 5 p.m. EST. Listen to the show on the live stream during regular show times at www.americascarshow.com. Send your car questions to his website at www.americascarshow.com