Drive Belt Replacement in 98 Volvo S-70 Sedan PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 05:31

Dear Barbara,

I'm a 77-year old fossil who enjoys reading your column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’.

My wife (named Barbara; and I tell everyone: don't even think "Babs") and I drive a '98 Volvo S-70 Sedan which has served us well and is coming up to the 60K mark. At the time of the 1998 purchase, we did opt for the "light turbo" feature, which has proven handy in a couple of "passing another car quickly" situations. We have no burning desire to buy another car and I should emphasize we also use this vehicle to make an annual 3200 mile round-trip trek to visit our daughter and grandsons in Minnesota each summer. I don't wish to be "penny wise and pound foolish", but I'd surely appreciate your slant on Volvo's "programmed" replacement of the drive belt at the 60,000 mile mark. I completely understand how failure of this belt (and the inherent valve timing) could/would cause the engine to self-destruct if the belt (and/or its components) became "unglued".

I've been told by the Volvo service folks that either the belt itself could fail or one of the "routing" pulleys/bearings could fail with the same inevitable result; the engine would self-destruct. This seems to me to be almost a built-in "time bomb" (i.e. inherent design flaw?) or a clever income-generating gimmick. There's also an inference that the pulleys/bearings might be more prone to failure than the belt, itself. I'm not sure exactly what to believe.

Do you have any "words of wisdom" concerning this upcoming significant and costly (around $800, as Volvo tells me) "preventive maintenance" item? Yes, I realize this is not a "normal" fan belt, but the $800 price tag seems a bit much; even for a Volvo. Of course the 'easiest' (safest?) thing to do would be to not "question the system", pay the $800, and be glad I avoided the possible engine self-destruction.

So, that's about it. Any experience or suggestions you might have concerning this $800 "replace the fan belt at 60K" issue would be appreciated.


Dear H. A., 

I love your comment when you say that the Turbo has proven handy in “passing another car quickly”. You lead-foot person you!

My words of wisdom would be to tell you to take the replacement of this belt, which is actually more than just a fan belt… very seriously. This belt is designed to keep your engine “in time” and you might want to double check because some of these “belts” are designed to be replaced between 70 to 90 on the mileage clock, instead of 60k.

It is unfortunate that these cars are designed to have parts that only last a certain period of time in order for the manufacturers to make money on the parts, but that is life and we have to deal with it. In order to prevent that time bomb from going off and stranding you on the highway between Houston and Minnesota, get the job done which should really only cost you around $600.00 to do instead of the $800.00 that you have been quoted.

Thanks for reading my weekly column in the Sunday Edition of the ‘Houston Chronicle Automotive Section’... my favorite newspaper!

1971 VW Beetle Knocking Sound PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 05:12

Dear Barbara,

I experience a noise that's on and off again in my 1971 VW Beetle. There is a loud knock and the faster I go, the faster the knock (sounds the same as if you knock on an indoor hollow door in your house) that only starts after driving for about 10-15 miles at around 60MPH. It did it this morning, so I drove home and killed the engine and after about a half hour, I then followed the same path, and it did not do it. Seems that if I depress the clutch, it stops doing it; however that may be due to reducing the RPM to depress the clutch; but it starts again when I let the clutch out; however then, I am accelerating. Could it be the throw out bearing (no shift problems in any gear)? But it’s a knock, not a roar or squeal. The engine has been checked and it runs great, so no problem there.

The car has been doing this for about 18 months and it just will not break, so I can find the problem. I cannot drive farther than I am willing to walk back, so the car has lost all of its value to me other than looking good.

Could it be the CV joint?



Dear Bert,

My only 2 guesses are going to be: it is either your throw-out bearing, or your transaxle. I am so sorry that I cannot put my exact 2 cents on this, but then I am not there to check it out myself.

The CV joint is not the culprit and you are correct by thinking if it were the CV joint, it would do it at all time.

Good luck as I just bought a fixer-upper 1985 VW Cabriolet.

Thanks for writing in,




Toyota Camry Window Problem PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 18 November 2011 19:19

Dear Barbara,

When I try to roll down the passenger window down on my Toyota Camry, it whines and has now completely stopped working. Is this a quick fix?



Dear James,

In the old days, you did not have to worry about this problem occurring; you just simply had the only option available and that was to roll the window down manually.

Power windows these days are controlled by three main parts and more than likely your problem has to do with one or more of these 3:

The window motor, the window regulator, and the control switch.

When you move the switch one way or the other, an electrical current is sent to the window motor that will force the window to go up or down, depending on the direction of the switch and by the sounds of it, your window is nonresponsive!

I would suggest that you take your Camry and its power window problem to the pros to fix or you may blow a fuse of frustration yourself after taking the door apart and possibly getting confused with the fix itself or trying to put all of the intricate parts back together exactly as they were before you started tinkering with it.

Thanks for writing in and good luck!

How to Make the Best Car Sale PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 04:55

Dear Barbara,

I read your Q and A in the ‘Houston Chronicle’ from time to time and was wondering if you would have any advice for me so I can get the most out of the car that I am trying to sell.

Thank you for your time,


Dear Dale,

Whether you are going to sell your car on your own or trade it in at your local dealership, there are some things you will want to do in order for you to get the most money out of it.

Starting with the exterior, you will want to:

• Make sure that your car tires are in good shape and balanced, and make sure to check all 4 of them.
• Fill in any and all small scratches on the car and touch up any bumper scrapes that you may have with touch-up paint.
• Give your car a good detail in and out and make sure to use a glossy wax.
• Shine your hubcaps or wheels.
• Use a good high-gloss tire dressing on your tires.
• Clean your windows in and out.
• Check all of your car fluids to make sure that they are at a proper level.

The interior will need this:

• Vacuum it out well.
• Shampoo the carpets if necessary.
• Clean all of the surfaces with an all purpose cleaner.
• Apply a good, non-greasy dressing to the dash and other vinyl surfaces.
• Apply a non-greasy leather conditioner if you have a leather interior including seats.

You may want to invest in a tune-up and an oil change and address any mechanical repairs if your car is in need. I have always had a saying when it pertains to selling a car… spending $50.00 will get you $500.00 more.

Good luck!

2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 Brakes and Lights PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 18 November 2011 18:58

Dear Barbara,

I replaced my brake booster with a NAPA rebuilt part and did the fluid bleeding. Could you please tell me why the ABS light comes on in my 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 when I make a right curve turn?

Also, I feel the brake pedal jiggle when applying the brakes (medium hard) on a right turn but no jiggle when braking on the left turn.

Thanks in advance,


Dear Dave,

I love assisting with an issue to do with one of my favorite vehicles… Jeep!

You need to first take it in to the Jeep dealer or your trusted local mechanic in order to have it hooked up to see which codes are being displayed. I would really have to drive your Jeep in order to diagnose your brake pedal issue.

You may be dealing with an unsafe issue here, so the quicker that you can get it in to your dealer, the better!

I would be intrigued to know what your Jeep dealer says your troubling/interesting problem is that is plaguing you and your Jeep!

Thanks for writing in!

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