Dear Doctor: My 2003 Chevy TrailBlazer with 60,000 miles sounds like a jet engine under the hood and my gas mileage has dropped to 8-10 mpg around town and has lost power. My dealer said the fan clutch is fine. An SUV that sounds like an 18-wheeler in low gear cannot be normal. Please help me! Amy
Dear Amy: Fan clutch noise and failure go together like a hand and glove. I have replaced many on these type vehicles. A faulty fan will cause a loud roar noises, as well as a drop in gas mileage. I suggest having another shop take a closer look at the coolant clutch fan assembly. Make sure the transmission is upshifting as designed and that the brakes are not staying partly engaged and that they are releasing properly.
Dear Doctor: My friend has a 2006 Buick LaCrosse CXL and had to have the front disc brakes replaced at 11,000 miles — which was covered under warranty. However, these new brakes have gone out again at 17,000 miles. The dealership will not cover them a second time, saying that they are a wear item not covered. I believe he should demand that they fix them and determine why the car is eating brakes at this rate. Neither he nor wife drive hard and ride the brakes. I suggested that he have the dealer install a lifetime guaranteed set of pads this time. What do you think? Dave
Dear Dave: Brakes are considered a wear item, however there is no reason for the rapid wear time on this vehicle. The dealer is under no obligation to offer a lifetime warranty on a wear item. Are the rear brakes contributing to the braking action when the brakes are applied? If the rear brakes are contributing when braking, then I suggest going to a local shop for the top quality name brand brake pad set. Brake pad life will average depending on driving habits and conditions from a low of 15,000 miles to 100,000 miles. I do not recommend rotor resurfacing for rotors that are out of round and cause pulsation. I suggest replacement.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2008 Nissan Altima with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. On several occasions when abruptly hitting the brakes the gearshift slides into neutral. The dealer couldn’t find a problem. What might be causing this to happen? Paula
Dear Paula: There’s a possibility that the transmission linkage is not adjusted properly, which is not locking into the gear. With any type of quick brake action the linkage pops forward into neutral. Another possibility is that there is movement in the engine/transmission mounting. Whatever the fault this must be repaired due to safety reasons.