Welcome back to the “Q & A” Log. This is a new column that I’ve started in order to answer common car problems that you might be experiencing. The questions that I’m addressing in this ongoing segment come primarily from emails and conversations I’ve had with drivers. The same issues come up over and over. So, we’re going to be building a knowledge base that you can refer to over time. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the more you know about your vehicle and its parts, the better.
Question: I’m thinking about buying a used car. A couple of days ago, I found a guy who was selling his 2005 Jeep Cherokee. It has a little over 53,000 miles (about average for a vehicle that age). The problem is that when the engine is idling, I’m hearing a noise that I believe is coming from the fan belt. Is that a serious problem? Does the noise mean that something is wrong with the engine?
Answer: First, realize that fan belts can become less flexible over the years. If the fan belt in the Jeep Cherokee is the same one that was installed at the factory, it’s entirely possible that the rubber has hardened or developed small fissures.
Try this: start the engine and pop the hood. While the Cherokee is idling, spray the fan belt with a little WD-40. If the noise that you’re hearing goes away, you’re right. It’s the fan belt. A mechanic will probably charge about $150 for the belt and labor to replace it. If the noise doesn’t go away, it could be a bigger problem. For example, the alternator may be failing or the water pump may need to be replaced.
Question: Don’t ask me how I managed to do it (it’s a little embarrassing), but I added motor oil to my transmission. It wasn’t much, maybe a couple of ounces. The weight of the oil was 10W 40 (my car is a 4-cylinder Nissan Sentra). Now, I’m worried if I drive it, the oil will damage the transmission. What should I do? Do I need to get the transmission flushed?
Answer: Don’t worry. I won’t ask how you did it. Believe it or not, it happens often. The fact is, if you only added a couple of ounces, there’s no real danger of damaging the transmission. The oil will dilute. Had you added a couple of quarts, it would be a different story. Bottom line, your Sentra should be fine.
If you have specific questions about your vehicle, certain car parts, or problems with the various systems (brakes, charging system, etc.), feel free to contact me. I have a huge list of car problems that I’ve compiled over the years. So, I’ll be addressing those in upcoming installments. Until next time, drive safely.