An intermittent alternator light on a Ford product, like the...

An intermittent alternator light on a Ford product, like the 2003 Mustang pictured, is either a poor connection at the alternator or a faulty alternator. Credit: Ford Motor Co

Dear Doctor: We have a 2006 Buick LaCrosse that is making a gurgling sound behind the dashboard. Can you give us an idea of what it might be? -- Laney

Dear Laney: The gurgling sound you're hearing is usually the coolant flowing through the heater core. Air pockets and low coolant levels are the most common problems. On some vehicles the use of a coolant flow restrictor slows the coolant flow and eliminates the gurgling sound.

Dear Doctor: My 1991 Lincoln with 82,000 miles slips out of overdrive gear as I approach speeds of 40 to 45 mph. The car drives well in the drive mode (0-75 mph). I have been advised that a "grommet" may be responsible for the overdrive problem. Please advise. -- Dave

Dear Dave: The transmission should be going into overdrive and not slipping. The grommet takes up any free movement in any type of linkage. Unless the grommet is worn out and has a lot of movement this would not be the cause. It could be the transmission fluid needs to be changed and a friction modifier added to the transmission fluid. Before any parts are replaced or services performed, have a full check of the transmission and computer codes, including all factory updates. I use Identifix and Alldata information before I start any repairs.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 Pontiac Aztek. It runs fine, except when I'm stuck in traffic where it starts to run hot. If I put it in the idle gear and press on the gas pedal, then it starts to get a little better. This only happens when I have to sit idle for a long time. -- Beatrice

Dear Beatrice: The first step is to see what the actual engine temperature is with the use of a scan tool. This will allow the technician to see what the computer is seeing. We use a non-contact temperature reader and the scan tool to read the temperature. Poor radiator coolant circulation and lazy thermostats and worn water pump impellers all contribute to hotter running engines. I would do a full engine temperature range test. Engines will run hotter in stop-and-go traffic, and this is normal. Some engines will run at 210-plus degrees at idle in traffic. The temperature will drop as the vehicle moves.

Dear Doctor: My wife and I are the original owners of a 2003 Ford Mustang GT with just 31,000 miles on it. The dash light came on and it turned out we needed a new battery. However, after installing our new battery from Sears, the dash light remains on most of the time. Why? -- Lorenzo

Dear Lorenzo: I see this often and the fault is usually the alternator. An intermittent alternator light on a Ford product is either a poor connection at the alternator or a faulty alternator. Make sure to check the prices on a factory Ford remanufactured and good quality aftermarket alternator. I have also seen cars with this problem that still get a charge and the alternator does not need to be replaced for many years.

Dear Doctor: We are thinking about buying a Toyota Camry. Should we get try to get a good buy on the 2013 model or buy the 2014 version. -- Ted

Dear Ted: If you are going to keep the car four years or longer, then 2013 Camry makes perfect sense. But if you're a three-year ownership person, then buy the new model when it is introduced; that way you get the most benefit from new improvements. Our test car was the 2013 Toyota Camry SE with the 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which equaled excellent power at any speed and 30-plus mpg on the highway. The Camry comes in both 4- and 6-cylinder engines. The power of the 4-cylinder is more than the V-6 of yesteryear -- and today's V-6 offer more power too, not to mention excellent fuel mileage and throttle response. The 2014 model is available (carryover), but with this said you may find good incentives on leftover 2013 models.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to Mail questions to: Motor Matters, PO Box 3305, Wilmington, DE 19804

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