Talking Cars: Dead batteries, funky brakes
Question: Our son owns a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado. The odometer set itself back to zero miles and remains at zero miles. The dealer wanted proof of the mileage from the last oil change receipt. Even with the receipt they said there is nothing under warranty they can do. I looked online and found the dash cluster to be a big problem with the GM trucks. This should have been a recall by GM. What are your thoughts?
Answer: A lot of these trucks were recalled, including my own 2004 Silverado. We service a lot of these problems, and the cost of repair average is $300. This includes removal of the dash cluster and repair and reinstalling the cluster.
Question: I own a 2007 VW Passat wagon. If the car sits for five days the battery goes dead. The dealer has replaced the battery twice and said this is normal and that the car is meant to be driven daily. This means if I go away for a week the car will be dead and I will have to get a jump. Can this be true?
Answer: It’s time for another dealer or another car. There is something draining the battery when the car is sitting. We call it parasitic drain. All cars have some; 25 to 50 mili amps is normal. You need to go to a local shop that can simply connect a digital amp meter inline between the battery and battery cable. This will measure the amount of parasitic drain. There are also battery rundown protection devices that connect between the battery and battery cable and protect the battery from draining below a preset voltage. These devices can be found in any marine supply store.
Question: I own a 2002 Ford Escape. Recently the brakes started acting up. When I try to stop it feels like the anti-lock brake system is activating. The ABS light does not come on. My mechanic said the car needed new rotors and brake drums. I said go ahead and fix it. He replaced everything and I still have the same condition. What do you suggest?
Answer: The first step is to get a refund from the shop that did the work. Put the credit card payment in contest if needed. The second step is take the car to a shop that has knowledge of the anti-lock brake system. The qualified technician will hook up a scan tool and monitor the ABS wheel speed sensors on a road test. The most common fault is a cracked ABS tone ring on an axle. If there was a fault in the ABS electronic system, the system would not pass its self test when the engine is started. It’s too bad the mechanic replaced all the parts you did not need.
Question: I own a 1997 Lincoln Mark and the left HID head light burnt out. The cost of replacement is $1,600. My mechanic has had no luck in finding a cheaper solution. Any suggestions?
Answer: The choices are an aftermarket HID replacement, a used head light assembly, or convert the headlights over to a conventional head light system.
Junior Damato writes regularly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.