Niagara Gazette

May 23, 2013


By Tom Torbjornsen
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Here’s a few recent questions from readers:

BART FROM LIMA, OHIO: The air conditioning on my 2003 Lincoln Town Car keeps clicking in and out and it’s not cooling properly. Both the high-pressure line and the refrigerant line are filled, so what is the problem?

TOM: The lines might be filled, but at what line pressure? There is a refrigerant pressure sensor that shuts down compressor operation when the refrigerant pressure gets too low. Get a set of manifold gauges on it to compare pressures to factory specs and proceed from there with the diagnosis. You probably have a leak that is stubborn to find and you can’t see it( it might be the evaporator core in the HVAC case). Use a halogen leak detector and possibly a dye test system to track down the source of the leak. Good luck.


FREDO FROM MIAMI: I own a ‘94 Chevy Caprice Classic that I bought 13 years ago. It runs well but I hear a groaning noise from the fuel tank. I think it is the fuel pump. Is this normal?

Fredo from Miami

TOM: No, this is not normal. A worn out fuel pump makes a groaning noise as you describe. Have it replaced or you will find yourself stranded on the road.


JUAN FROM COSTA MESA, CALIF.: I own a 2006 Chrysler 300 with a V6 engine. When I start the car, the headlights flicker and the instrument panel gauges turn off and on. Also, when I turn the car off, the battery goes dead. What’s wrong?

TOM: Have a charging system analysis done on the car. Sounds like the alternator is not charging or there’s a poor battery ground somewhere in the car. Very often bad ground connections can cause problems like you’re experiencing. Check under the hood for a loose ground strap on the firewall. Finally, load test the battery to see if it’s any good. When batteries internally short these symptoms can occur. Success to you.


MICHELLE FROM YORK, PA.: I recently took my car to a local automotive maintenance chain to get a wheel alignment. They told me I needed to replace the inner and outer tie rods on my two front tires before I could get the alignment. They gave me an estimate of nearly $700. Does this sound like a reasonable price for this type of work? I drive a 1996 Honda Accord LX 4 door.

TOM: I checked the labor and parts guide to determine a price for the work. Pricing the job with OEM parts at a shop labor rate of $75 per hour, it came in at $689 (not including tax). I would say that this estimate is well within the ballpark.


MARY FROM LAKE TAHOE: There is a clunking sound in the rear area of my 2003 Dodge Ram conversion van. The van has 28,000 miles. The sound starts when I first move the vehicle after starting it. If I go slowly, I hear a clunking sound in around the rear tires / wheel area.

TOM: Go for a ride with your service tech so that he/she can hear the noise. After the road test, have them check the rear suspension, specifically the rear shocks, leaf springs, and shackles where the springs connect to the vehicle’s frame (they will have to put the vehicle on a lift). If they find nothing then the clunk could be due to a bad axle bearing or differential pinion bearing. Finally, if all is found to be okay, then check the rear brake calipers and pads. You could have a loose caliper or brake that would cause the noise you described. Best to you.

‘Til next time … Keep Rollin.’

“America’s Car Show” with Tom Torbjornsen airs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday on WBBZ-TV.

"America's Car Show" with Tom Torbjornsen airs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday on WBBZ-TV.