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How to Make Your Car Last Forever: Auto Q&A with Tom Torbjornsen | Business

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How to Make Your Car Last Forever: Auto Q&A with Tom Torbjornsen
How to Make Your Car Last Forever: Auto Q&A with Tom Torbjornsen

Dear Tom,

My ’02 Oldsmobile Alero has had the ignition switch replaced four times in the past two years! Each time the switch fails everything seems normal. However, when I turn the key to start the vehicle nothing happens … no cranking, no clicking, it’s just dead. The battery has been replaced. Every time the problem occurs the Olds dealer says the problem is the magnet on the ignition switch, which is part of the security system. Do you know why this is happening?

Rich from Orchard Park, NY

Rich,

Ignition switch replacement is common on cars with some mileage, but to have so many switches malfunction in such a short period of time makes me wonder if there is another issue affecting the system. The body control module, main computer, the instrument cluster and their respective wiring are all involved in the starting system. It’s going to take some in-depth diagnostics to track down this little bugger! Find a good electrical diagnostician. It will probably serve you well to arrange to leave the car at the shop so they can experience the problem firsthand when it occurs. 

Tom

Dear Tom,

I listen to your radio show in Atlanta, GA, on WDUN. Great show! I own an ’81 Scottsdale with a Silverado engine. When the vehicle is first cranked, the oil pressure is fine. After I drive it for several minutes, the oil pressure drops or is non-existent. The oil level is good and the engine runs great. When I rev the engine, the oil pressure goes up. But when the vehicle is idling or stopped, there is no pressure. What should I do? I’m 15 years old and my Grandpa gave the truck to me. It means a lot to me and I don’t want to junk it! Please help!

Taylor from Calhoun, GA

Taylor,

I understand your feelings about the truck. My father gave me my first car too and that car meant a lot to me (until I found a Camaro I wanted bad enough, then I traded the Pontiac in). Here’s what you should do. First off, hook a mechanical gauge to an oil gallery in the engine and run it to verify actual oil pressure. If it's OK, then the vehicle probably has a problem with the oil pressure-sending unit (which is quite common on older vehicles), the wiring to it or the gauge in the dash. If the oil pressure is found to be low, then the oil pan has to come down and the lower end inspected for worn bearings, oil pump or the like. In this case, you might want to employ the service of a professional tech to evaluate the engine before repairing or replacing it. Or, take out a book on engine overhaul and go to it if you have the mechanical aptitude or inclination. I rebuilt my first engine at 16 years of age, so you’re ready! Call the show and let me know how it worked out. Good luck. 

Tom

Note: Check out another review of my new book, courtesy of Tight Fisted Miser. Here’s the link: http://tightfistedmiser.com/2010/09/27/book-review-and-giveaway-how-to-make-your-car-last-forever/

For more great advice from auto expert Tom Torbjornsen, visit the America’s Car Show website at www.americascarshow.com or become a fan on Facebook for frequent updates. You can also hear Tom’s radio show at noon EST Saturdays on the SSI Radio Network and at 10 p.m. EST Sundays on Stars Too — Sirius 108 & XM 139. And, pick up a copy of Tom’s latest book, “How to Make Your Car Last Forever,” on Amazon.com. Follow Tom’s Q&A blogs every week on WGRZ.com, Buffalo.com and Examiner.com. If you have an automotive question for Tom, send him an e-mail: tom@americascarshow.com.


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