I own a 2002 Honda accord and a '99 Acura. I have warmed up my Honda every day for 13 years and I have had no problems with the engine. I always wait for the needle to pass the "C mark" (in the gage thingy) before I drive off. I just recently purchased the '99 Acura and I warm it up too. How long should I let my car warm-up in the winter and also in the summer? I've been hearing a lot of different ideas about this topic.
Mary from Alberta, Canada
A couple of minutes to warm up the engine on cold days should be fine. Electronic fuel injection and engine management systems of today make all the necessary adjustments so that the engine operates at maximum performance and efficiency. Also, oil and lubricants are made much better too; therefore engine lubrication is almost instantaneous, providing the oil is changed regularly according to the severe service schedule. Tom
We have a '94 Jeep Cherokee with 107,690 miles. There doesn't appear to be any leaks in the system or into the oil. However, after driving for a while I have to add coolant. Besides a leak into the oil or the hoses, is there any other place coolant could be going?
Eva from Pittsburgh
If no coolant leak is evident on the exterior of the engine, then have a cylinder leakdown test performed to see if there's a leaking head gasket. Another way to track down a coolant leak is to pour a test dye in the radiator, then shine an ultraviolet light on the engine to locate the leak. Also, check the tailpipe while the engine is running. If droplets of dye are detected in the exhaust, there's a blown head gasket or cracked or warped cylinder head. I wish you success. Tom
I own a '99 Ford Windstar with 135,000 miles. In the morning after a cold night outside, there is a "clack clack clack" sound when I first start the van. It goes away after I drive a couple of blocks. The van is quiet for the rest of the day. Any idea what would cause this noise?
Laurence from Houston
Either your oil level is low or you have some worn parts inside the engine. Parts that make this kind of a noise are lifters, rocker arms, push rods, or rod bearings. The best way to diagnose the problem is to first identify the source of the noise. If it is coming from the valve cover/s, then remove them to see what is loose in the valve train. If it is coming from the bottom end, remove the oil pan and check for worn bearings. Either way some engine disassembly will be required to track it down. Once you have determined the cause of the noise, then you can make an informed decisions as to how to proceed with repairs. You may be facing replacing the engine. If that is the case then you want to access the overall condition of the van before spending significant money. Tom
I own a Kia Amanti (2004) that I bought new in March of 2005. It is fitted with the standard engine, a DOHC V-6. The manual says to change the timing belt at 60,000 miles unless the car is in California. If it's a California car the belt should be "inspected" at 105,000 miles. What could possibly be the difference? One further question: What happens to the Kia engine if the belt should break?
Merton from Santa Ana, Calif.
My ALLDATA database says that you should replace the belt every 40,000 under the severe service schedule and every 60,000 miles under the normal service schedule. My information does not tell me if it is an interference engine or not, so check with your dealer to find out. If it is an interference engine then make sure to change it at the prescribed interval, because a broken belt would result in major engine damage. I would imagine that a California car has a thicker timing belt, hence the greater rubber mass lasts longer. This was the case with Dodge Neons. They had a timing belt that was a -inch thick and thus lasted over 100,000 miles. Success to you. Tom
I own a 2008 Honda Odyssey and it is pulling hard to the right. I took it to the local tire shop for a front-end alignment. The technician said he brought the toe in a little, but the real problem was the tires. He says they have deep cracks on the shoulders and should be replaced. Looking at the tires, I see cracks within the tread on the left front tire, but not so much on the right front tire. How do I know the tires are really the problem?
Sue from New Jersey
Tires can cause a pull, and the best way to determine if the tires are at fault is to swap the tires left to right and see if the pull straightens out or goes to the other side. Cracks in a tire are unsafe (usually due to a dry rot condition). The natural oils dry out of the rubber and they crack, usually in the tread area or on the sidewalls close to the bead area. Check with the tire manufacturer; you may be able to get a monetary adjustment toward replacement tires. Tom
I own a 2001 Chevy that I have driven all over Southern California over the last 10 years. The battery kept dying every week and required constant recharging so I had the alternator replaced; however, the problem still exists. What do you suggest?
Pam from California
Perform a load test and specific gravity test on the cells. The acid might have been cooked out of the battery from the alternator overcharging. This resulted in sulfating of the plates, in which case the battery is junk. If the battery is okay, then check for a parasitic electrical draw occurring when the key is off. This test requires that you monitor the battery voltage while eliminating one circuit at a time until the draw ceases. When you locate the offending circuit, trace it out until you find and repair the short. Tom
'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 AM1340 WKSN via the SSI Radio Network Saturday mornings at 8. Listen to the show on the live stream during regular show times at americascarshow.com. Send your car questions to his website at americascarshow.com.