QUESTION: I have a 2007 Ford Taurus with a 3.0-litre V-6 motor. My son has a friend who is a Ford guy who said that the 2007 Taurus had motors with defective oil pumps that can fail without warning. His friend recommends replacing the oil pump to prevent the motor from failing. Have you heard of this problem? Should I have the oil pump replaced? — P.S.
ANSWER: I find no information in my Alldata automotive database regarding potential oil-pump failures in the 3-litre V-6 engine. This engine has been a durable workhorse for Ford for several decades.
The only way an oil pump could “fail without warning” would be if the drive shaft or impeller suddenly broke or if the oil pump pickup tube fell out and dropped into the oil pan. In addition, I didn’t find an updated oil pump from Ford for this engine, so unless you installed an aftermarket pump you’d be installing the same pump you’re worried about. From a cost point of view, replacing the oil pump would be roughly $500 in parts and labour, more than I’d be willing to spend in terms of preventive maintenance.
Q: I have a 2010 Chevrolet Impala, and I absolutely love the car. I have had it for almost two years and have never had any issues with the remote starter until this winter. The car starts fine, but by the time I get behind the wheel it is still blowing cold air even though the thermostat shows it is warmed up. It doesn’t start blowing hot air from the heater until I put the car in gear and start driving. Then the heat starts pouring out almost immediately. — B.M.
A: The most common cause for lack of heat at idle is low coolant, so check the coolant level when the engine is cold. When the coolant level is low, there’s limited circulation through the heater core until the engine rpm increases and the water pump circulates more hot coolant through the heater core. The same symptom would occur if the thermostat has not reached opening temperature, even if it showed a relatively warm engine on the water temperature gauge.
Q: I have a 1998 Chrysler Concorde with 243,000 kilometres on it. Several years ago, I noticed that when I turned the headlights on when it was overcast or in a light rain, they would occasionally flicker on and off. If I reached down and tapped the headlight switch when they flickered off, they would come back on. Here’s the clincher — they have never done this at night. They stay on rock-steady when it is dark. Any ideas? — J.R.
A: Since the flickering occurs only during daylight hours, the problem is likely in the daytime-running-lights system. When the ignition key is turned to the on position, the headlights will illuminate at a reduced voltage level. When the headlights are switched on at night, or if the automatic headlight system recognizes low light situations, the headlights switch to full illumination. Under no conditions should the headlights flicker completely off.
Any short in the input to the headlight switch will cause the switch to default to the “headlights on” mode. Since the headlights flicker on and off, the switch itself might be suspect. A scan tool might identify a fault code from the body control module, which controls the headlights.
Q: I have a 2002 Buick Century. The light that illuminates both the odometer and gear indicator on the dash became dimmer and dimmer and finally this summer went completely out. Do you have any inexpensive suggestions? — S.M.
A: My suggestions are always inexpensive — free, in fact! The individual “peanut” lamps in the instrument cluster are replaceable. The cluster is removable by taking out the trim piece and four mounting screws, then rotating the top of the cluster forward to disengage the locating pins.
Q: I’m hoping you can help me with my 2001 Blazer. It has failed to start on a dozen or so occasions. It will make no sound when I turn the key. About two or three different times, someone did something down at the starter and it started. Another time, someone jiggled the battery cables and it started. My mechanic replaced the starter relay, but that didn’t help. It has 240,000 kilometres. I'm very frustrated with this problem as no one seems to be able to fix it. — M.M.
A: Your description of no sound helps pin this down as a no-crank starting problem as opposed to a cranking no-start (run) issue. Possible culprits include the battery, battery terminals, ignition switch, park-neutral switch, starter relay, wiring to starter and starter connections, and the starter itself.
It sounds like the battery is OK, as you don’t mention needing to jump-start the Blazer. To be sure, during an unsuccessful cranking attempt, turn on the headlights. If they remain bright as the key is tried, the battery and battery cable terminals are OK.
Next are the ignition and park-neutral switches. During an unsuccessful cranking episode, try working the key start position by rotating the key less, more etc. Same goes for the park-neutral switch: Try selecting neutral, wiggling the shift lever, exploring the edges of both the park and neutral shifter detents as the key is held to the crank position. If even brief cranking or noises are heard, the wiggled switch is likely the problem.
Now we’ll close in for a solution: If during a no-crank episode the headlights do not dim and the relay clicks as the key is tried, the fault almost has to be within the starter. With 240 klicks on the clock, the starter, if original, is on borrowed time. Its brushes are likely worn very short and may make only tentative contact with the armature. A swift smack to the starter can often induce the parts to work briefly. A loose electrical connection at the starter is also a possibility, but these are virtually impossible to access without removing the starter.
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