I notice on late model cars a start-up knock. Even on my own 2010 Ford Focus. It sounds like they could use .001 or even .002 U.S. bearings. The knock is very slight. It sounds like what I used to hear with engines having high mileage. Do you consider this normal?
QUESTION: I am a retired auto mechanic (40 years). I have a couple questions:
1. I notice on late-model cars a start-up knock. Even on my own 2010 Ford Focus. It sounds like they could use .001 or even .002 U.S. bearings. The knock is very slight. It sounds like what I used to hear with engines having high mileage. Do you consider this normal?
2. Ethanol in fuel: Do you recommend any additive to the fuel?
ANSWER: Today’s engines are built under very close tolerances and the bearing clearances are precise. If there was a bearing clearance problem, the engines would not last and the oil pressure would be low. As for gas additives check the owner’s manual or dealer for any approved gas additives recommended.
QUESTION: I am interested in two new completely different cars. One car is for my wife, the other for me. My wife likes the 2011 Subaru Forester, and I like the 2011 Kia Optima SX turbo. What can you tell me about either, and have you driven either?
ANSWER: As you know, each week I get a test car for evaluation purposes. I have had both over the last six weeks. Let’s start with the Subaru Forester. The Subaru has gone through big changes over the past few years. First the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine sounds like a real engine; the tinny sound is gone. The automatic transmission is very smooth. Both engine and transmission work together and deliver ample power, that’s right, ample power. Seating and head room are generous. Our test car had a long list of standard equipment that is optional in other brands. MSRP $29,068 for a loaded multipurpose vehicle. Fuel economy 21 city, 27 highway. Fit and finish excellent, ride over broken pavement excellent. Like I said, Subaru has grown up into a nice vehicle.
The Kia you are interested in has evolved into a car company I would not believe unless I could have seen it happen over the past four years. Our Kia Optima SX turbo was a big surprise to me and to everyone who jumped in. It is hard to tell the Kia apart from high-priced imports. The four-cylinder turbo (that’s right, a turbo charger) mated to a six-speed automatic. From the big 18-inch tires, heated and cooled front seats, panoramic sunroof, heated outboard rear seats navigation, and satellite radio, and all at $30,840. Did I mention the warranty? The warranty is 10 years 100,000 miles. How about steering hub controls, LED rear tail lights, HID head lights, and the list just goes on. The car has endless power, and there is no suspension noise over broken pavement. Gas mileage 22 city, 34 highway if you can keep your foot off the gas pedal. Both cars are a good choice if these are the vehicles that you want.
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QUESTION: I own a 1991 Oldsmobile 98 that had a lot of ignition and computer sensors installed and still has problems starting. Each time I get it fixed it would run for a while, then the engine would start and stall. I had a lot of the work done by the dealer. The only part that was not replaced was the computer. Do you have any suggestions?
ANSWER: You spent a lot of money, replaced a lot of parts and still have the same problem. Now you have to find a local shop that has an ASE certified technician and or an AAA approved repair shop. Call your local AAA office even if you a not a member and ask for an approved shop. Your stalling and no-start condition sound more like a lack of fuel verses lack of spark.
QUESTION: I have both a car and boat trailer and want your input on replacing the tail lights with LED lights. Are they worth the money?
ANSWER: LED lights are well worth the money when replacing lights. The LED lights are brighter and outlast the old style bulbs. They now sell LED replacement bulbs for the interior lights, whichs make a big difference; they are bright and very white. I like LED bulbs so much I changed all my outside lights to LEDs and some on the inside.
QUESTION: I would like to give my husband a seat heater for his 2000 Chevy pickup. How expensive are they, and do they work, and where would I get installed?
ANSWER: After-market seat heaters work great and the average cost is $250 installed. This will be the best present you could ever buy for the truck. I use the Check Chart brand and never have had a problem. Make sure you get the two-level heat range.
Junior Damato writes weekly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.