No rush to join the little old lady club
Dear Car Talk: I have a 2011 Toyota Corolla with 45,000 miles. The service adviser at my car dealership has recommended replacement of transmission fluid ($160), coolant ($145), brake fluid ($110) and power steering fluid ($110).
Are all of these necessary at the same time?
Well, they’re necessary at the same time if the service adviser has a major boat payment due.
Actually, you’re in a little bit of a quandary, Evelyn. Based on your mileage, at 45,000, you don’t need any of these things. Normally, a 2011 Corolla would be expected to come in with 100,000 miles on it, not 45,000. Your service adviser is basing these recommendations on time (years) rather than miles.
Unlike rubber parts (tires, hoses, belts) that degrade over time due to exposure to ozone in the air, fluids tend to wear out due to use and heat. The less you drive, the less use they get and the less heat they’re exposed to.
So, I’d say these are all optional at this point, Evelyn. It wouldn’t be bad to get these services done if you plan to keep the car for another five years. But that would put you firmly in the “meticulously maintained, driven only to church on Sundays by a little old lady” club.
In other words, you’d be taking very good care of your car and doing maintenance preventively.
In terms of priority, I’d probably start with the coolant flush, then do the transmission fluid, then the brake fluid and the power steering fluid last, if at all.
But there’s no rush. And if you’re short on funds, you’re in no danger if you put this off.
Dear Car Talk: My 1982 Mercedes 240D starts up faithfully without coaxing ... but with such a roar and shake that people wonder what, exactly, is going on under the hood.
It sounds like angry badgers fighting. Might it be bad motor mounts or something else that’s the issue?
Thanks for your consideration. — Denise
I think it might be your new hearing aids, Denise. It’s probably been making those noises all along, but now you can finally hear that racket like everyone else. Try taking the hearing aid batteries out before starting the car.
Actually, given that this old diesel has been shaking and rattling for nearly 40 years, it could be anything and everything. You could certainly have multiple problems, Denise.
To me, angry badgers sounds like a bad belt. That makes a screaming, high-pitched noise that often starts when the car starts, and then goes away as the engine and belt warm up.
But you also mentioned a “roar.” That could be something like a cracked exhaust manifold. If you have a crack in the manifold, that’ll make a loud roaring sound when you first start the car. And then, as the hot exhaust heats up the manifold, the manifold expands and the crack closes up. That makes the noise go away. Until the next time you start the car.
Finally, you mention shaking. Let’s assume this is above and beyond the normal diesel shaking. That could be caused by a cylinder that’s not firing when you first start the car. If you have a bad injector, for instance, the car could start by running on only five of its six cylinders. That would cause it to shake like an unbalanced washing machine until the final cylinder kicked in.
I would say there’s one thing that I’m absolutely certain you need, Denise.
It’s time to have this old heap looked over from stem to stern. And let the mechanic keep it overnight so he can hear what you hear when it starts in the morning.
At the very least, you want to make sure the car is still safe to drive and that nothing crucial is about to break or fall off. And if you determine that, then you can get a list of the other things that should be fixed. You may need everything we mentioned, and then some.
But only a thorough inspection will tell you that. Once you know the extent of the needed repairs, you can decide if you want to fix up this old soot bag, or skip over the internal combustion era entirely and buy yourself an electric car.
Actually, now that I think about it, that might be too much of a shock to your system, Denise. Going from shaking and blowing black soot to a silent, clean electric drivetrain might be too overwhelming to your senses.
So, if you do make the leap, make sure you get a massaging and vibrating seat and some cheap incense to help you work through the transition.
Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.