Q: What are the symptoms of an out-of-balance front wheel, and how can you tell which wheel is the problem?
A: Typically, an out-of-balance wheel/tire will cause a vibration at speeds of about 35 miles per hour. If you are feeling a vibration at lower speeds, the issue is a bent wheel or damaged tire with a belt separation.
When a front tire is out of balance, a vibration is typically felt in the steering wheel.
Regarding which tire, there is no good way to tell. If there is a vibration at speed, it makes sense to balance all four tires.
Q: I came out of a restaurant the other day and noticed some minor fender scratches. How do I remove the damage?
A: It really depends on the situation. If the marks are paint transfer or rubber marks and the paint itself is not scratched, a light application of a polishing compound or a solvent will remove the marks.
If the scratch is on the surface, a machine buffing with rubbing compound may remove the scratch.
If you can catch your fingernail on the scratch, then the area will need to be filled in and touched up using matching paint.
Q: There is a high-pitched squealing noise on the rear passenger side of the car. The noise stops when the car reaches 15 to 17 miles per hour. What could this be?
A: Some brake pads have metal tabs that will drag on the brake rotor and make a high-pitched squeal when the brake lining material gets thin. Think of this as fingernails on a chalkboard.
The other possibility is that the parking brake is malfunctioning and causing a noise.
At this point, the best thing to do would be to bring the car into a repair shop and demonstrate the noise to the technician. Once you both hear the noise, the technician can give you an idea of what is wrong and what it will take to repair it.
Q: I have a gorgeous 2017 Honda Accord LX. One Honda dealer said it was “certified,” however another Honda dealer said that it only showed “oil changes” and nothing else in the service records. He said that means it is possible they did not do the other items that make it certified. We have no other history.
One Honda dealer is pushing me to flush the transmission, even though the two other dealers said if there is “no code, no need.”
At 30,000 miles, one dealer tried to sell me $800 in services. The first dealer (car is now at 47,000 miles) is trying to make me do a brake job (no brake problems at all), the transmission flush and “get all new tires.” This seemed odd, since none of the other dealers suggested any of this.
My car handles fine, with no codes and no squealing. Who is right? Who do I trust?
A: At 47,000 miles, it is possible that your car needs brakes and tires.
Regarding a transmission fluid flush or fluid change, your car will tell you when that service is required. Honda and many other manufacturers use a maintenance system that will alert the owner when certain items require service.
My suggestion would be to go to an independent repair shop and have the car evaluated. Then you can determine what repairs need to be performed and if you want to use a particular dealer or independent shop. If you are looking for a AAA-approved shop, go to aaa.com/repair.
Q: What are your recommendations for trying to prevent/clean rust buildup on rotors?
A: Simple answer: drive the car more often.
A thin layer of rust will build up on brake rotors by just parking overnight on a damp or humid evening. Never spray anything on brake rotors, since it will contaminate the brake pads. Driving the car a few miles will clean off the rust.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email [email protected] and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.