When trou­ble lights trou­ble you

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS - DEN­NIS O’SUL­LI­VAN PS Read­ers, Please be ad­vised that all emails can­not be an­swered. Send your ques­tions (be sure to in­clude your ad­dress) by email to: den­nis.osul­li­van@co­geco.ca or mail: Box 10019, Wi­nona, ON L8E 5R1


I en­joy reading your news­pa­per ar­ti­cle each week. I have a 2000 Buick Cen­tury that I use as a win­ter ve­hi­cle. It runs great and has never given me any trou­ble. I re­cently took it to a quickie lube and oil shop to have an oil change and lube per­formed, as well as to do a gen­eral check of the car. This is the first time that I’ve used one of the quickie shops. Trou­ble lights have shown up on the dash (“low tire”, “ABS”, “Trac off”, and “Ser­vice ve­hi­cle soon”). The shop did the ser­vice on the car but the trou­ble lights did not go off. They told me that I would have to take the car to a dealer to have them turned off. Does it make sense that only a dealer could turn the trou­ble lights off? I will likely sell the car in the near fu­ture and it is also likely that any po­ten­tial buyer would be wary of all the warn­ing lights be­ing on. I’m also con­cerned about it my­self. Thanks for any in­sight you might pro­vide.

Bill L


It does not sur­prise me that the lube shop can­not or does not have the equip­ment to re­set the codes on your car be­cause they are not gen­er­ally li­censed tech­ni­cians. Any au­to­mo­tive garage should have the equip­ment to check and re­set the codes for you. You may also find out that one of the sen­sors for the ABS sys­tem is de­fec­tive which is trig­ger­ing that light to come on or you may find that cor­ro­sion in one of the ABS con­nec­tors is trig­ger­ing the ABS light to come on. It may also be just a glitch in the sys­tem that is trig­ger­ing the warn­ing lights to come on. The garage is go­ing to be able to de­ter­mine which wheel the ABS sen­sor is trig­ger­ing the light. I would first check all your tires to make sure that they are in­flated to the proper pres­sure and by the time this comes to print, you may find that the sys­tem has re­set it­self and the other warn­ing lights have gone out them­selves.


I pur­chased a 2005 Buick in 2005 from a GM dealership and the car has been a great car for me over the years. Un­for­tu­nately, about three weeks ago, I was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent and the body shop, when do­ing the es­ti­mate, told me that the car had been in­volved in an ac­ci­dent prior to this one. The car has been in my own­er­ship since I pur­chased it and I now be­lieve that the dealership in­ten­tion­ally sold me a car that they knew was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent. I called the dealership and they ba­si­cally told me that they would not do any­thing for me nor would they look into it for me be­cause most of the people at that time were ei­ther re­tired or moved on. I paid top price for this car and now feel that I got ripped off. Is it too late to fight this now?

Ron from Paris


I spoke to the owner of the body shop and he knew noth­ing of the al­le­ga­tion that your car was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent and he told me that he would get back to me the next day when he had time to look into it. He did get back to me the next day and told me that one of his body men had told you that your car had been in an ac­ci­dent since the right front fender, that was dam­aged in this ac­ci­dent, was not rust pro­tected and the rest of the car was. His the­ory was that the fender must have been re­placed since it was not rust pro­tected like the rest of the car. He apol­o­gized for one of his men mak­ing a state­ment and then re­lay­ing that be­lief to you when there wasn’t any con­crete ev­i­dence that the fender had been re­placed. Maybe the people do­ing the rust pro­tec­tion for­got to rust pro­tect that fender. At this time, there isn’t any way of know­ing ex­actly why that fender was not rust pro­tected but the body shop owner told me that the fender was in good con­di­tion prior to this last ac­ci­dent and there wasn’t any other tell tale signs that would in­di­cate that the car was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent prior to this ac­ci­dent. The car has, in your words, been a great car so do not work your­self into a frenzy when there isn’t any tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence that the car, that was sold to you, was in­volved in any type of ac­ci­dent prior to you pur­chas­ing it twelve years ago.


I put the rear brake shoes on my GM truck that still has the rear drums on the brakes. About two weeks after re­plac­ing the brake shoes, one of the rear wheels on the left side started to lock up on brak­ing. When I re­moved the brake drum, I found that the rear axle was leak­ing and had sat­u­rated the shoes on the left side. Since the brake shoes are vir­tu­ally new, I was go­ing to clean them off and re­use them. My neigh­bor, who is just down the road and is a li­censed me­chanic, told me that I have to re­place the shoes. I have cleaned off the shoes and they look like new again so is he right when he says that the shoes have to be re­placed on both sides when they get cov­ered in axle oil since the one side is okay?

Danny from Hamil­ton


Since the brake shoes are rel­a­tively new, you do not have to re­place the shoes on the right side but you can­not buy only one side of the brake shoes any­ways. The brake shoe ma­te­rial will ab­sorb the axle oil and even though they look clean after you clean them up, the oil residue will show up again after a few brak­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. For this rea­son, clean­ing the axle oil off the brake shoes will not work and you should change the brake shoes again.


I have been reading your Q&A col­umn in the Water­loo Re­gion Record’s ‘Wheels’ sec­tion for the past two years, since mov­ing to Cam­bridge, Ont. from the GTA. I have been mean­ing to write to you for some time, sim­ply to say I en­joy your weekly col­umn. Also, I ad­mire your for­ti­tude in car­ry­ing on. I do won­der how you have the in­cen­tive to con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate sit­u­a­tions on be­half of read­ers, in view of your de­scrip­tions of mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion that you have been given, by read­ers, in some in­stances. I have been a gear-head since my high school and univer­sity years, so from a tech­ni­cal as­pect, I ap­pre­ci­ate the ad­vice that you give your read­ers, on var­i­ous au­to­mo­tive top­ics. Keep up the good work.

Gre­gory from Cam­bridge


Thanks for your en­cour­age­ment and sup­port. It makes my time worth­while when I can help some­one that is re­ally in need of my help.

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