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Auto Doc: New Acura owner unhappy with road noises

Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Acura RLX with the Advance Package.  I love all the tech in the car and enjoy it except for one thing: the car has sounds coming from the front end that makes it seem as if the wheels are going to fall off. This only occurs under 25 mph while driving over poorly repaired roads. The dealer says everything is tight and that this is normal. I can't stand the noise! I'm ready to sell the car unless something can be done. Any suggestions? 

Dear Lew: The first step when considering a vehicle purchase is to drive it for an hour or more on all the roads that you normally drive. It seems advanced or performance suspension systems will often give unwanted feedback noise. Sorry to say, but as the vehicle gets on in years the suspension noises will be more noticeable. Strut bearing and mount mounts, as well as sway bar bushing and links, are common noises over bumps. I have also found weak/worn engine mounts make suspension-like sounds over bumps. The dealer may be correct that the sounds you are hearing are normal for this vehicle.


Dear Doctor: I own a 2008 Nissan Versa with 50,000 miles on it. The car has developed a metallic creak or clunking (like parts trying to "seat" themselves) in the front right fender area when making sharp right hand turns at low speeds -- but has now started making the noise occasionally when driving straight. My mechanic has gone over the car twice and has done brake pads, rotors, tightened struts, inspected springs, bushings look good -- and yet the noise persists. Do you any suggestions as to what this could be?

Dear Leslie: Body/subframe, engine or multiple worn engine mounts all can cause strange sounds. If your mechanic cannot locate the sound, then try another shop with qualified technician.


Dear Doctor: I recently took my 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO PLUS in for its 5,000-mile checkup. I anticipated a tire rotation and oil change. The service department would not change the oil, saying that these cars are recommended for 10,000 intervals between oil changes. I am from the old school and feel that this interval is excessive. I also own a 2014 Honda CR-V that also requires a lengthy period. I would like to know your opinion on this matter. What is your recommend mileage (or monthly) period for today's newer vehicles? 

Dear Matt: Engine oils have improved over the years. Today's oils have multiple additives in them to enhance every aspect of lubrication under extreme heat and cold, under cold start ups, full engine acceleration, assist in cooling internal moving parts, as well as hold all containments in suspension. I suggest you follow the manufacturer's recommendations. If you want to change the oil sooner it will not do any harm.


Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Buick Park Avenue that just turned over 130,000 miles on 3.8-liter V-6. I had the serpentine belt replaced to spare me a breakdown on the road. I took a long road trip and on the return home the belt did break and had to be towed to a garage. They told me it was actually the water-cooled belt tensioner that was at fault and damaged the belt in the process. Do tensioners frequently fail and if so should they be periodically checked or replaced with belt replacement?

Dear Paul: The most common failure with the single serpentine belt design is the bearing on the pulley. Usually a pulley  bearing will start to make noise before it totally fails and causes the belt to fall off. Serpentine pulley bearing life varies, as do the other accessories like alternator, power steering pump, air conditioner compressor and water pump. They all are routed to the serpentine belt and all turn when the engine is running. The automatic belt tensioner does a great job of keeping the correct tension on the serpentine belt. It is a good idea to start checking for any pulley noise and belt condition at 30,000 miles and on.


Dear Doctor: I purchased a 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, which is a terrific car. My only concern is that anyone who has sat in the rear seat complains that there is a lack of rear seat legroom. Have you heard anything about extending the length by about 3 to 4 inches to make the rear seat occupancy more comfortable? I had read recently that a S60 L was in the works, but little information was provided.

Dear Lloyd: There is no safe way to move the seats, especially the rear seat. The seats are mounted into the floor and if ever moved would first void that part of the warranty, making an unsafe condition for the occupants. If they ever do build an extended version of this car this would be the correct way to go; not trying to modify this vehicle.

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