Advice Column: Cars Cars (Cars)

Cars fixedFrom time to time I like to use this website to help people out. What can I say, I'm a charitable person. Some people even call me "The Giver", believe it or not. One of the services I provide is this advice column. Unfortunately, hardly anyone reads this website, so I don’t get many emails.

It also probably doesn’t help that I never actually told anyone about this column, how it works, or how to participate. But no matter, I found a bunch of automotive questions on various internet forums and I’ll just answer those here instead.

Camaro Camaro Camaro Terra Cotta

Junk CamaroHi Rob,
I have a 1992 Camaro RS, 3.1L engine, automatic transmission. It seems to have trouble starting and I think it is in the steering column. When I try to start it there isn't any noise except a faint hissing sound coming from under the hood. 

In order to get the car to start I have to play around with the signal/highbeams switch. I have had recent repair work done on the EGR valve and the mechanic also looked at the starter cylinoids and he said it looked alright. Any ideas?

Hi, my name isn't Rob, but thanks for writing in! I don’t really know anything about cars (in fact, I can’t even change the oil) but I’ll do my best to answer your question. There are a number of things you can try to fix this car. Do these in order:

  1. Ensure your car is plugged into an electrical outlet. Cars are machines and need power from the earth in order to function.

  2. Climb into the driver’s seat and repeatedly turn the key while rocking in place. Say: “Come onnnnn, come onnnn….” while the engine refuses to turn over. Standy Man

  3. Try opening the hood and staring into the engine compartment with a perplexed look on your face. Also, wipe your brow with a handkerchief and mutter under your breath while shaking your head.

  4. Push your car out into the driveway and get a bunch of squareheaded neighborhood guys to come and stand around spitting on the ground while squinting into the sun. Ensure they are all more than 40 years old. You may have one younger man, but he should be clothed in a yellowing tank top and have shoulder-length hair.

  5. Have you tried turning the car off and back on again? Sometimes this helps.

  6. If none of this works, I dispose of the car. Tow it to a secluded bog or marsh and push it into the water. It should begin to sink slowly into the depths. As the red glow of the taillights finally disappears below the surface of the water, allow a wicked grin to spread across your face. Now vanish into the softly rushing night. 

Jeep’d Up

Jeep CrishMy 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo won't start...cranks strong but won't turn over..I can hear my Fuel Pump kick on from the back of the Vehicle but it won't kick on listeing from the engine compartment??I checked all fuses!.My check engine light was before the tune up the car wa codeing out...

I've been told to check the ALARM by turing the alarm on and off and on and also unlocking the car from the driver driver door..This didn't help..I've been tell to check the Fuel cut of  switch(RESET BUTTON)for my make and year but can't seem to locate it...any help would be...greatly...thanks

This is an easy one. The reason for your problems is: You accidentally bought a Jeep. Don’t feel too bad, it’s an easy mistake to make. People have been doing it for years; in fact, you can be sure someone is out there accidentally buying a Jeep right this very minute. Most people who buy new Jeeps also owned a Jeep as their previous car. Here is why this occurs:

The average Jeep owner is locked into a perpetually intoxicated state. This comes from breathing the fumes which constantly leak into the cabin from his Jeep’s shoddily constructed exhaust system. You yourself are affected; this much is obvious to me by the complete lack of coherence in your correspondence.

And so one day you will bring your Jeep to the dealership for repair. You will park and you will stumble into the showroom mumbling obscenities and something about a broken down car. A Salesman will swoop in and offer to accept this old wreck as a trade-in on a newer model. He will shove a contract in your face, and you—disoriented and treacherously close to braindeath from lack of oxygen as you are—will scrawl out some semblance of a signature and immediately collapse to the floor. The next morning you will wake up in a brand new Jeep, remembering none of the previous day’s events. And so the cycle begins again.

Yaarrrgghhhh! (Can't Steer)

No BrakesI was on my way to work this morning, and my car shut off and the wheel tighten making it diffucult to steer. It's not the first time that's happen to me, so when it happened I automatically checked the belts. They were all fine. As I started my car and drove away I started hearing a clicking noise everytime I shifted the gears. and notice that the rpms were struggling to get over 2. Is this a simple fix or do I need to bring it to a mechanic?

Interesting. I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before. I’ve just got a few questions to ask before I can answer fully:

  • Do you drive an automatic? If you do, that might be why switching gears is messing your car up. You are probably just driving down the freeway and switching it into reverse or neutral. This can cause problems, so try leaving it in D for most of the drive and see if that helps.

  • Where do you work? If it’s at the bottom of a steep hill you could probably just coast the whole way while working the brake. Have you ever seen that Spielberg movie about the crazy trucker who chases a man through canyons and deserts? That’s a pretty good movie but I can’t think of the name.

  • What are RPMs? Is that how fast the wheels are going or something? If your wheels are only going two revolutions-per-minute, that might be why you think it is difficult to steer. You would be going so slowly that you wouldn’t even seem to be moving. Press down on the accelerator until the car picks up enough speed to move. Also I just remembered the name of that truck movie: Duel. Check it out. 

Festivas for the Restivas

Festivus Festivus FestivusI have a 1991 Ford Festiva. I noticed some time ago that there is a humming, or rubbing sound coming from the rear of my car. It is most noticable during a highway drive. I got the rear bearings replaced, got a wheel alignment, new tires, and the shocks checked and a whole new muffler from the manifold back. I get worried that a wheel is going to fall of or something. Any thoughts? Maybe its just the sound my car makes? It is a hatch back, and maybe my car isn't very sound proof?

Hi, you are driving a 17-year-old car from one of the most notoriously unreliable car manufacturers on the planet. Why do you think you're having problems with it? I mean, 1991?! Seriously, that thing must have about a trillion miles on it! You already wasted a ton of money on repairs too. You should've just borrowed 50 bucks from a friend and bought a couple more 1991 Festivas for backup. Just be grateful it even runs at all. You two are living on borrowed time.

That’s all the car advice I have time to answer for now. If you have any of your own questions and can figure out the procedure and time you are supposed to send them in, go right ahead. But I probably won’t answer them anyway on account of I have a very busy schedule. And also don't want to.