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Auto Doc: Early brake wear; full system check needed

Dear Doctor: My daughter has replaced the front brakes three times on her 2013 Nissan Altima and the car has only 29,000 miles. The front brakes are once again sounding like a truck coming to a stop. (squealing). What is the problem?

Dear Walter: Whenever there is premature brake wear on either front or rear brake material, then a check of the full system is required including the caliper slides, as well as a check for air in the hydraulic system, too. On this vehicle, the rear brake contribution needs to be checked. I see a lot of vehicles where the front brake pads are doing the majority of the work and the rear brakes are not contributing as designed.


Dear Doctor: I bought a 2014 Ford Escape with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. I plan on keeping it for many years. I want to put in a larger intercooler, cold air intake and a rotor, brake pad upgrade and possibly a performance chip, as well as a better exhaust. I take excellent care of my cars and would like to add to the longevity as well as performance. What are your thoughts on this?

Dear John: I would wait until this summer to see if a performance bolt-on is available and has been tested. I do like the idea of gaining additional performance when done in a professional way and if the owner knows the responsibility for the care of the vehicle.


Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis with 84,300 miles. I had the lighting control module replaced and then noticed the dashboard voltmeter show a low condition temporarily and then return to normal. Three days later I experienced an alternator failure resulting in replacement of the alternator and battery. A high voltage condition on the dashboard voltmeter and the battery light comes on. This lasts a few minutes and then returns to normal. Also, I had a spark plug eject out of the cylinder head. The shop installed a heli-coil insert, new spark plug and coil. What longevity should I expect?

Dear Chuck: The voltage is not connected with the light module. I have seen a lot of defective electrical parts, even factory rebuilt ones. The easiest point of evaluation is to replace the alternator again. As for the spark plug heli coil replacement, I have replaced many without any problems and longevity is not an issue.


Dear Doctor: I have a 2007 Jeep Cherokee Laredo with the five-speed automatic transmission with 161,000 miles. When the weather is very cold (25 to 35 degrees), and I first start it up and begin to drive, the transmission slips a little in first gear. As the engine warms up the slipping goes away. Any advice?

Dear Tom: Check for any transmission fault codes and then repair them if any are stored in computer memory. After any needed repairs, you need to remove the transmission pan and check for any signs of metal and then replace the filter and fluid.


Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 Honda Fit and a 2011 Toyota Prius. Can I trust the AAA people to do it safely so that the electronics are not damaged? I think that the "old" methods may no longer apply to the newer more sophisticated cars. My owner's manual has information, but I wonder about my ability to do it safely.

Dear David: The professional experts who work for auto clubs have training on how to properly jump-start a vehicle. There are safety procedures that need to be followed. The use of a battery jump box is what 95 percent of service companies are using and are safe for a vehicle with a dead battery. Also, there are many battery box jump packs available and all have step-by-step instructions.

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