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Columnist Phil Arendt A.K.A. Dr. Gizmo

Since 1989 Dr. Gizmo has answered questions about cars and light trucks.  Please send questions to drgizmo@drgizmo.ws

Visit his blog, Dr. Gizmo's Auto Blabber, at


 "Dr. Gizmo"

By Phil Arendt

Noise Caused By Failed Bearing

Question 1

When turning in my 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo I hear a sort of crunching sound coming from the right side.  I hear the noise while driving or when the car is still when turning the steering wheel left or right. 

I removed the front right tire to check the shock and spring but nothing is broken.  What do you think is wrong? N.S., email

Answer 1

More than likely the strut itself is not causing the noise.  The strut is an assembly consisting of the strut, spring and spring seats with bearings.  More than likely a bearing has failed causing the noise.  If the strut is in good condition replacing a failed bearing should silence the noise. 

If you are thinking about replacing the bearing, the job requires special tools to disassemble the strut assembly.  Also, once the work is completed the wheels will need alignment.  Think twice before attempting to do the work and follow all procedures and safety precautions in a repair manual.

Engine Fails To Start After Short Trips

Question 2

I have a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL that is in like new condition despite 97,000 miles on the odometer.  The problem is that the engine starts fine in the morning when it is cold but after I drive for a while and stop for 20 minutes or so the engine starts and then it stalls and will not restart again until it cools off.

I have replaced the fuel pump and fuel filter.  All the engine ignition parts have been replaced including wires, spark plugs and coil.  I have taken the car to two repair shops where tests have found no problems in the fuel system and ignition system.  Both shops have driven the car but no problems have been found. 

This car is my baby.  It must be repaired.  Do you have any suggestions?  L.B., email

Answer 2

Don’t shut off the engine.  Problem solved.  All kidding aside you and your shops have done a lot of work, but there might be a fuel delivery problem.  You stated the fuel pump and filter were replaced but there are more parts in the system that could cause trouble.  There is a check valve, an accumulator and a relay that might be impaired 

Since the trouble occurs after the engine warms up consider temporarily connecting a fuel pressure gauge to the fuel system.  Test the pressure when the problem occurs.  You might find fuel pressure is not up to specifications or perhaps the relay overheats and the fuel pump does pump the necessary fuel to sustain the engine.  If so, replace the relay.

Power Window Main Control On The Fritz

Question 3

I have a 2005 Toyota Highlander with a power window in the left rear door that does not work from the driver’s switch.  The window works fine from the switch in the left rear door.  All the other windows work fine from the driver’s switch except the left rear. 

Does this mean the driver’s switch is bad?  O.D., email

Answer 3

It is possible but there might be a loose connection somewhere else in the circuit.  Since the window does not respond from the driver’s switch it is the first place to look for a problem.  Also, since this switch is used more than others and often is exposed to environmental issues such as rain, snow and dirt it is time to remove it for an examination.  You might find a loose connection, corroded terminal or dirty contact.  Also, it may have an internal fault that requires replacement to correct.

Sensor Trouble Impairs Stability Control System

Question 4

I own a Ford E-350 Van with a dash message that says RSC.  My van has a 5.4-liter engine and nearly 200,000 miles.  The engine runs fine.  It drives fine.  There are no unusual sounds.  The transmission shifts fine.  There are no other lights on in the dash. 

I use my truck for work.  Is this something I should worry about? N.N., email

Answer 4

Isn’t it great that vehicles communicate with us?   There is no immediate danger.  The light indicates that the Roll Stability Control is not functioning and needs service.  The RSC system helps you control the vehicle. It aids in preventing fishtailing and rollover.  If you drive carefully and defensively you should not be too concerned but the system needs servicing.  With 200,000 miles on the vehicle more than likely the sensors need a thorough cleaning.  Once this is accomplished the light should remain off and the system will help you stay in control.

Cure For Leaky Sunroof    

Question 5

I have a 2000 Lexus RX300 with a water leak that started this fall at the right front corner of the sunroof.  The trouble occurs only when I go through a carwash.  We haven’t had much rain but when it rains water does not drip on the passenger seat and floor.

Since I discovered this problem I have refrained from going to a carwash and I like a clean car.  I have been washing it by hand but now it’s too cold for me to keep it clean.

I took the car to a local shop where a mechanic checked the operation of the sunroof and seals but could not find anything wrong.  He ran water over the sunroof but nothing dripped.

Do you have any suggestions?  D.M.L., email

Answer 5

Ask your mechanic to check the water drains on the sunroof, especially the one at the right front corner.  More than likely a leaf or some other debris is restricting a drain tube. 

Sunroofs are not sealed units like a windshield.  When the roof is closed water flows into channels built into the sunroof and drains through tubes in the front windshield pillars and rear body.  When a drain becomes blocked, water backs up and leaks into the passenger compartment.  When this occurs a technician can use low pressure air or a thin flexible cable to clear a drain tube. 

Ask a technician to consider this the next time you take your vehicle to a shop.

Clogged Screen Stops Truck Dead In Its Tracks

Question 6

Here’s a situation that I hope will not stump you.  Presently, my 2006 Ford F-250 Super Duty is sitting at a repair shop.  It has a 6.0-liter diesel engine and 161,000 miles.  It’s been maintained according to the factory maintenance schedule and has not given me a bit of trouble until now.

I was driving along when the engine just quit.  It was as if it ran out of fuel.  I had it towed to a shop that has been servicing it for a while.  A technician has done all kinds of tests.  There are no codes in the computer and he has checked the fuel pump and much more but can’t find anything wrong.  The engine started once for him but then it shut off a few minutes later.  When attempting to start the engine it cranks fine but just won’t start.  Everything seems normal.  He is at a loss and I need my truck.

Can you help?  R.G.K., email

Answer 6

For your sake I hope my diagnostic crystal ball is tuned and in perfect sync with the diesel truck universe.  There is one part your technician might consider examining.  It’s a bit of a pain to check but it won’t set a trouble code in the computer if it has failed.  He should consider checking the screen in the fuel injector pressure regulator valve for breaks and blockage.  If this part has an issue fuel will not flow to the engine.

To gain access to the valve and screen he will need to remove several parts.  If my crystal ball is correct he will find the source of the trouble at the valve.  If indeed it has a fault, replacement should cure the trouble and you’ll be zipping along in your truck.

Thanks for all of your great questions.  Dr. Gizmo can’t wait to answer more.

Phil Arendt is a columnist, consultant and A.S.E.-Certified Master Technician.  Readers may send questions to Dr. Gizmo at 40771 W Mary Lou Dr., Maricopa, AZ 85138 or e-mail address mailto:drgizmo@drgizmo.ws.  More information is available at http://drgizmo89.blogspot.com  01/07/2013 ® DR. GIZMO © 1989-Present