Viewer-submitted questions for The Car Doctor:
Q: This past week I had a new starter and brake pads installed in my 2007 Honda Accord. The repairs are fine, but now I can’t turn on the radio, and the time just flashes (and is 2 hours ahead). When I try to turn the radio on it says “Error”. When I push the 1, 2, 3, etc. buttons it spells out “CODE.” Is this an easy fix – like a computer reset – or a major problem?
A: When the battery was disconnected to replace the starter, the radio went into antitheft mode. Hopefully, you have a code card with the correct four-digit code. The card may be in the owner’s manual or even a sticker in the glove compartment. If not, you will need to get the radio serial number and then contact Honda to get the code. Since the shop that did the repairs should have used some type of “keep alive” memory device or asked for the code before repairing the vehicle, I would ask them for some help. I don’t blame the shop since all cars are different, but they should be open to helping get the code.
Q: I have two questions about the battery in my car, which the dealership could not answer. I have a 202 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine. I asked the dealer to let me know the type and construction of the OEM battery installed in my vehicle. They said it was an H4 battery but could not tell me if the battery is an AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery or a standard FLA (flooded lead-acid battery). I think I need to replace the battery in my vehicle and want the replacement to be the exact same type as the OEM. Can you let me know if I need an AGM battery or the standard battery? Also, does the car have a battery management system and will it be necessary to register/code the new battery with that system?
A: The battery in your car is a standard lead acid battery and is rated at 325 cold cranking amps. As an example, the AAA replacement battery which is also a FLA battery is rated 525 CCA. Unlike some vehicles, there is no electronics reset or battery registration with your Toyota. Also, based on testing. AAA does not believe that replacing a conventional battery with an AGM battery is a best practice.
Q: My question may seem minor, but I think it may have some significance, hence the need for your expert advice. My five-year-old Explorer Sports had some wear and tear on the tires, and it seemed it was more on front ones than the rear ones. I told the tire guy at the service station to put the two new ones in the front. but he said he will not do it because he was taught to always place the new ones in the rear. I was surprised because cars these days being front wheel drive and all-wheel drive, you would need better steering control in the front, but he did not agree so I let him put the new tires in rear. So, my question is whether he was right in his insistence about placing new tires in rear always.
A: Years ago, we always put new tires on the front, but over time that has changed. The new tires should be mounted on the rear. If the rear tires have less tread, they are more likely to cause a rear wheel skid in poor weather conditions. Additionally, the majority of tire punctures are rear tires (the front tire picks up the nail and the rear tire runs it over). Since new tires are more puncture-resistant, it is better to have the newer tires on the rear. Your shop did the right thing.
Q: I have a 2009 Kia Sportage and I am trying to get a state inspection sticker. The dashboard lights are clear and no check engine light illuminates when the engine is engine running. However, when I hook up a FIXD scanner it produces two codes. Will dirty engine filters cause these codes to show? Because there is no check engine light on dash, I made appointment at the dealer to address these codes.
A: I am not familiar with the FIXD scanner but what it may be reading is historical or pending codes. In either case, if the various emissions monitors are set and the check engine light is off, the car should pass the state inspection. If these are pending codes and there is a sensor or some other issues, the check engine light will come on and then the vehicle will not pass state inspection.
Q: For the winter months you mentioned spraying parts of door gaskets with silicone. Are all silicone sprays the same? What parts should I spray?
A: In my experience, most silicone sprays are the same. I usually go to the local hardware store and buy the least expensive one. Then I spray the rubber door, trunk, and hatch gaskets with a liberal amount of silicone and wipe it down to avoid any transfer to clothes. The silicone displaces any water and keeps the doors from freezing shut. On door locks and hinges I use lubricant specially designed for these areas.
Q: I have a 2016 Ford Explorer with a six-cylinder engine, and it needs a water pump. I took it to a shop and was told it would cost $2,500. How can this be?
A: This is a complicated design; the water pump is driven by the timing chain. The shop is most likely replacing the water pump, timing chain and guides. The labor itself just for the water pump is 12 hours. With that amount of labor and cost of parts, it is easy to see how the price can climb to $2,500.
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