Welcome back to the Auto Specialist. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching, fascinated by the manner in which the Toyota recall has been developing. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, it began with a few sporadic reports about a malfunctioning accelerator pedal. Fast forward to today. Toyota has been forced to recall millions of vehicles about this problem. It apparently affects several models, including the Prius.
While a lot of people seem to think Toyota won’t be able to recover from this, I’m betting they will. If anything, this situation will encourage the company to design their vehicles with even better parts and systems in the future.
In today’s segment, we’re going to help Saul figure out whether the valve job recommended by his mechanic is reasonably priced. We’ll also help Andrea understand what her “check engine” light is telling her. Finally, we’ll help Jim with his failing fuel pump.
Let’s jump in.
Question: I drive a 1998 Infiniti I30 with about 150,000 miles. Last Monday, on the way home from work, my car died on me while I was on the freeway. I had it towed to my mechanic so he could take a look and figure out the problem. He told me two of my valves were bent and quo
ted the repair work at $800.
I’ve been going to this guy for a long time, so I trust him. But, I was surprised to hear the work was so expensive. It’s just a couple of valves. Does that sound right to you?
Answer: Thanks for writing in, Saul. Valve jobs can definitely cost $800, especially on an Infiniti. In fact, this type of work can potentially cost thousands of dollars. The deciding factors are what caused the problem and how much damage was actually done. For example, a timing belt that slips or breaks will often cause valve damage. But, it can also cause a crack in the cylinder head. If your mechanic is only repairing two valves, I can certainly understand the bill.
Question: I own a 2001 Honda Accord with just over 127,000 miles on it. A couple of months ago, my check engine light went on. I don’t know what that light is supposed to be telling me. I meant to take my car into the shop when I first saw the light go on, but got really busy with other things. Can you tell me what that light means?
Answer: Thanks for your question, Andrea. The check engine light is meant to alert you to potential problems. When it is tripped, a fault code is set and stored in your vehicle’s computer. The fault code can be pulled with a special diagnostic scanner and used to figure out the issue. It’s impossible to know what the problem is without that code. I recommend that you take your car immediately to the nearest repair facility and have a mechanic pull the code. That will reveal how serious the problem is.
Question: I’m driving a 2000 Ford Explorer Sport with 143,500 miles. I’m frustrated because I’ve gone through two fuel pumps in less than a month. The guy at the repair shop says that my gas tank now has pieces of the last fuel pump inside. Now, he’s telling me that the tank needs to be replaced. What is happening with my Explorer? I’ve searched online, but nobody with my make and model seems to be dealing with this problem.
Answer: Thank you for writing, Jim. From your description of the debris in your gas tank, I’m guessing the problem is the quality of the fuel pumps you’ve had installed. I’m going to speculate that you’re not using OEM-certified pumps. If you’re using a cheap rebuilt, there’s a chance it’s not holding pressure effectively.
Here’s what I would do: tell your mechanic to replace the fuel pump with an OEM-certified pump. If he’s unable to clear out the debris from the tank, you’ll need to replace that, too.
That’s it for this installment of the Auto Specialist. Thanks again to Saul, Andrea, and Jim for sending in their questions. Join me next time when we help a few more readers with their automotive troubles. Until then, drive safely.