Dear Doctor: I own a 2004 Volkswagen Jetta and the speedometer recently stopped working. The rest of the dash works fine. Before I go to the dealer I would like your opinion. Allison
Dear Allison: Has anyone checked for trouble fault codes? The speedometer is driven electronically by a signal from the Vehicle Speed Sensor located on the transaxle. The VSS is a common problem on these cars. Before any parts are replaced the circuit has to be checked.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser turbocharged with the five-speed manual transmission. The problem is an intermittent stalling condition when warm and coming to a stop. The problem could not be duplicated at the dealer and there are no Technical Service Bulletins. Do you have any idea what is causing the stalling? Charlie
Dear Charlie: The list of possibilities includes the position sensors of the camshaft and crankshaft, along with EGR-valve related problems. On some rare occasions the computer (PCM) is another source of failure. You can have the technician hook up a scan tool so you can drive the car. As soon as the engine stalls, you simply push the record button and head back to the shop so the technician can compare all the information with known good information and make the correct repair. I have also seen lazy idle air control motors and intermittent signals from the throttle position sensor.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I hear a clicking noise when the brake pedal is depressed. Someone said it could be a faulty ABS module. What do you think? Stephen
Dear Stephen: A clicking sound when stopping is usually caused from brake pad or brake shoe movement. I suggest taking the car to a qualified technician to road-test the car for the source of the clicking sound.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup 4×4 diesel with the automatic transmission that has had an ongoing transmission failure since 12,000 miles. The first failure was under warranty, but at 47,000 miles I had to pay 50 percent; now at 79,000 miles they want me to pay $1,000. I have read online about the automatic transmission failures on these trucks and thought that Chrysler would give me a break. What are your thoughts? Phil
Dear Phil: Chrysler has had multiple transmission issues since they first introduced the A604 front-wheel drive automatic. The problems continued with the rear-and four-wheel drive automatics. The Cummings diesel engine in your truck had a tremendous amount of both vibration and power. It seems that the transmission cannot handle it. Check with a local transmission shop for aftermarket heavy-duty internal rebuilding parts.
Dear Doctor: Last week we got 7 inches of snow and I could only drive about 1.5 miles and had to turn back home. What are the best snow tires available? Lowell
Dear Lowell: There are a few different types of snow tires and they all will give better traction than any all-season tire. I recommend the use of four snow tires — not just two. If you have a performance car with large tires and there is no snow tire made for that car, then you can downsize the tire and rim and keep the same overall diameter without causing any speedometer or anti-lock brake problems. There are many off-brand snow tires that will last several seasons. Some of the high line snow tires have better flexibility in very cold conditions and offer better traction especially on ice. The downside is the softer flexible tires wear much out sooner.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2004 Buick LeSabre purchased new. At 20 months and 13,000 miles it developed an oil leak. The dealer replaced the rear main oil seal under warranty. Two years later and another 13,000 miles the oil leak has started again. I would appreciate your comments. Larry
Dear Larry: The GM 3.8 V-6 has been a great engine, delivering great mileage and power. On rare occasions I have had to replace a leaking camshaft oil seal. At first, anyone would think the leak is coming from the rear main seal. These leaks are rare.
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.
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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009