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Steering issues drive confusion

A photo of a steering wheel.

A photo of a steering wheel. Credit: Fotolia

Dear Doctor: My 2005 Subaru Forester has 67,000 miles on it.  When I turn the steering wheel to the maximum, like backing out of the driveway, I get a lot of resistance and a slight vibration. I have no problem with normal driving. I checked the power steering fluid level and it is where it should be. -- Edward

Dear Edward: Make sure the power steering belt is tight. The high resistance and vibration could be due to low power steering pressure, binding in the power steering rack, or even something in the front end that is binding. If the problem is in the power steering hydraulic system, then you can flush the system. Use power steering fluid only and see if it makes any difference. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I have a 2012 Ford Focus sedan. Every time I make a right turn (sometimes left turn) I get a cold breeze on my legs. The dealer could not find a problem. I would like to take the car to an auto. What do you advise? -- Mike

Dear Mike: The steering shaft goes through the firewall and there is a large seal that can move when turning the steering wheel either way. If the car is not under warranty, then try looking for a AAA-approved repair shop in your area. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I have a 1996 Buick Regal with 77,000 miles. It rides great, but intermittently stalls and then starts right up again.
I am afraid to drive it. Do you have any advice? -- Pearl

Dear Pearl: Intermittent stalling is usually caused from loss of spark. Or, if it happens with your foot off the accelerator it could be carbon buildup on the throttle body, or an EGR valve that does not close fully or quickly enough. On your particular car I would look at the both crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor. Both of these are common failing sensors that will cause intermittent stalling and instant restart. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I own a 2005 Pontiac Vibe with only 26,000 miles. My driving is local and I get the car serviced once a year with full-synthetic oil. The battery and wiper blades are all I have replaced. What other services should I consider? -- George

Dear George: Service is the key to vehicle longevity. Changing other fluids is a good idea and not expensive. The technician can drain the transmission fluid and coolant, along with the brake fluid and power steering fluid. Check the brake material and make sure the caliper slides are not frozen. Tires also need to be checked for cracking and/or dry-rot. All door locks and latches should be lubricated with graphite. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I own a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder 4.0-liter V-6. The transmission was not shifting properly so I went to the shop. They checked the fluid and it was low, but there was no sign of fluid leaking. The technician said he has seen this before on this vehicle. He removed the radiator cap and found the coolant looked like a strawberry frappe. He said the transmission cooler in the radiator has failed and transmission fluid has entered the cooling system and after a check of the transmission fluid some coolant was mixed with the transmission fluid. At 104,000 miles I was over the manufacturer warranty. Have you ever seen this problem? -- Cliff

Dear Cliff: There is no question that the radiator assembly is defective. This defective radiator cooler has been an ongoing problem for many years on some Nissan vehicles, especially your model. Your vehicle is out of the written warranty that Nissan had extended, but there is no reason why Nissan could not have made some kind of financial help to you on the repairs needed. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: We are interested in the new 2014 Toyota Corolla. Have test-driven it yet? -- Martha

Dear Martha: The 2014 Toyota Corolla is redesigned. It has grown up into a great midsize car. The 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is mated to a CVT transmission that is very smooth and quiet, until you go for the full power. Then the engine stays at high power revving until you lift off the gas pedal. This is normal and common on vehicles equipped the CVT transmission. The EPA rating is 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway. -- Doctor

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