Q: I have a 2007 Ford 150 pickup. While accelerating to about 30 or 40 mph the third gear in the automatic transmission blew out. I have never plowed or towed with this truck. I went to a transmission shop, told them how it happened, allowed them to test drive it with me present and asked what my options are. I was told I have three: replace it with a rebuilt, rebuild mine or install a used transmission from a junkyard. Do I have any other options?
— J.P., New Britain, Conn.
A: We were tempted to be flippant and suggest things like turning the truck into a planter or sculpture but you don't want to hear that. The junkyard box will probably cost the least and either rebuild will probably cost about the same. Sometimes a factory rebuild offers a quicker turnaround, but by rebuilding your own tranny you know how you treated it and the name of the guy who does the work.
Q: Recently my son purchased 2013 Honda CR-V in Bloomington, Ill. He has a problem. Upon cold start the engine revs to 1400 rpm then settles to 1200 rpm. There is also a loud noise and latter subsidies. I called USA Honda customer service and was advised to contact the dealer. He said that as long as the rpm does not exceed 3000, you are fine. On the noise, he said all CR-Vs are same. My research is that on cold start engine rpm may go to 1200 and within one minute it should settle to 900-950 rpm. I request your advice on the matter.
— A.A., Baltimore
A: When we hear a representative (often a sales person) say, "They all do that," it makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand up. The owner's reply should be: "Show me." You didn't describe the noise so we have no answer to give you other than that there should never be a loud or strange noise on start-up. And we agree that cold idle should be closer to 1200 rpm and warm idle should be below 1000 rpm. Take it to a different dealer.
Q: I own a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. I have been experiencing intermittent low beam headlight problems for two years. The low beams shut off with no warning, no pattern and will not come back until the car sits for an extended time. The dealership has replaced a computer module at my expense for about $350 and the problem still exists. The dealership gave me no solution after three additional visits. The lights would turn off at least once every day. I came across the fix from browsing the internet. The problem appears to be very well known on the internet so why not the dealership? For $35 I replaced the GM part #15016745, a module located in the under hood fuse box. After two weeks so far, no problem anymore. Is there any logical reason why dealerships can't figure these problems out and what if any would be my recourse?
— D.V., Bartlett, Ill.
A: The part you describe is a relay. There are usually several such relays in the fuse panel under the hood. This particular relay is always on the job switching on the high beams (at a reduced voltage) for the daytime running lights then the low beams when you turn on your headlights. It is prone to failure in several models of that vintage. Take what you have learned to the dealership service manager and ask him if he will make things right. The technician really blew it on this one.
Q: In response to the 81-year-old gentleman that complained about the ride in his Dodge Caliber (Oct. 21 paper), I have an additional solution to help him out. First off, the replacement of the stock shocks/struts would help, but if he wants to further the ride improvement, here is his solution. Replace whatever tires he has on his vehicle with Continental DWS tires. They have a great mileage warranty and offer year round driving ability. They have a single ply sidewall which allows the tire to soak up bumps better than most tires out there. I had them on my Mitsubishi Lancer and they made a night and day difference. Not a cheap solution, but hey, if he needs new tires anyway, this would be a great improvement over his stock tires.
— A.S., Tinley Park, Ill.
A: Thanks for sounding off. Indeed, different tires can make a world of difference in ride. With the softer ride, however, handling may not be a crisp as it used to be.
Q: Recently, after a short trip, the immobilizer light came on my 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE and the car wouldn't start or shift out of neutral. I have a smart key. Eventually it did start but now I experience (three times so far) a dead battery after the car sits for a few days. Hyundai service reported no evidence of drain on the battery or a short circuit. Help, thanks.
— R.W., Millersville, Md.
A: Smart keys are not smart enough to prevent the battery from going dead. In fact, if they are left too close to the car, numerous circuits will stay awake all night. That results in a grumpy, if not dead, battery. We have a hunch there may be a problem with the smart key. Ask them to check it out. Then, take it inside the house with you when you park. Don't leave it in the car or in the garage.
Q: I have a 1995 Mitsubishi Endeavor. At the 66,000 mile mark I had the scheduled maintenance done. To my dismay, that included a new timing belt and the cost came to around $1,400. I am now nearing 132,000 miles and the car has been excellent and I expect to keep it a while longer. I've been snooping around and found that I could probably save a couple of hundred dollars by having a local mechanic do the work. Am I better off sticking with the dealer?
— M.E. Palatine, Ill.
A: Quite often, an independent shop will have better prices. However, you really need to shop around for a good shop. You may discover that the guy who really knows all about Mitsubishis is a former Mitsubishi tech who decided to strike out on his own.