Let’s Talk Wheels Weekly Car Questions

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Why So Expensive? Bill asks “I have a 2012 Audi that needs a brake job. The dealer tells me tells me that $1875 because the brake rotors must be replaced. I know it was not grinding, so why does it need new ones? The dealer tells me a bunch of bunk about a quality brake job that sounds like bull. Am I being railroaded?”   

Mike: Billy, Welcome to the world of German car brakes. Yes, it is best to replace the rotors because they are soft and wear out as fast as the pads. Of course, they work so well that most owners consider it one of the costs of having a world class car. Almost all European car brakes are expensive to repair, that is why some shops shy away from them.

Engine Light On: Linda writes, “Hi Mike, I have an engine light showing on my Ford Windstar. My nephew works at an auto parts store and has a device that can read the computer codes. He said the problem was the ECT sensor. Trying to save money, my husband bought the part and replaced it. Then, the light came on again. What do we check for next? It is okay to drive?”

Mike: Linda, without any training, using this code reader is going to cost you more than taking it to the dealer. The code reader is telling you that there is a problem in the data sent to the computer by the Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor. Often, the sensor is doing its job by telling you that the engine is not warming up fast enough for optimum emissions. This can be caused by several components in the cooling system. Perhaps the thermostat is staying open? Perhaps the cooling fans running too long? A trained technician needs to look at the data stream determine what is going on. Driving the vehicle with this problem could damage your catalytic converters and cost you big money. Get it looked at asap.

Failed Emissions Test    “My 48k mile, 2014 CRV failed state inspection because of an emissions problem. Do I have to take it to the dealer for repair? Are they more expensive? Thanks for the help” – Don.

Mike: Don, you’d be crazy to take it anywhere ELSE but the dealer because they most likely will fix it for free because you are still under warranty! The federally mandated warranty for most emissions components is 8 years / 80,000 miles. –MH

Here is a tip: Have your service tech visually check your drive belts (or belt in most cases) every other oil change. I don’t know any shop that charges to check, and it is really important. A broken belt can disable the engines water pump, alternator, and power steering.  Please get it checked for the summer season. -MH

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Mike is an ASE Certified Master Technician and auto shop owner for 31 years. If you have questions or comments, E mail me: mikeh@letstalkwheels.com or go to www.letstalkwheels.com  to read more articles.