No rush to join the lit­tle old lady club

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Puzzles - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

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?

— Eve­lyn

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.

A me­chanic.

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

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