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The Yankee Express

Soldering as a repair should be a permanent fix

John Paul

Q. I purchased a new 2022 Infiniti several months ago and the car has just about 1,600 miles on it. All of a sudden, the car has a low “beep” instead of a loud “honk”. I took it to the dealer and the work order stated:  found low horn inoperative due to break in ground circuit, re-soldered to correct concern. My question is, will this repair be permanent, or should the harness have been replaced?  I would greatly appreciate it if you can respond in your column.

A. I’m perfectly comfortable with soldering as a repair. A properly repaired circuit should be serviceable for the life of the car. Keep in mind that nearly everything electronic has a soldered joint. 

Q. I’m a long time reader and need your help.  My Lexus RX 350 is extremely noisy for the first ten minutes after a cold start.  It sounds like an old car tappet or valve noise making this “luxury” vehicle sound like an old Singer sewing machine.  Lexus says, “That’s the way they all sound”.  I find this very hard to believe, as the noise was not there when the car was new but developed after about 8,000 miles.  Am I going to have to live with this irritation for the next 17 months of the lease?  Not having a fix for this problem is like going to the dentist and being told I have a broken tooth but can’t be fix it because “…that’s the way teeth are”.

A. Years back Lexus engines were making some odd noises when cold and the issue was addressed with a technical service bulletin, but my experience today is that the engines are quite quiet.  I would ask the dealer to explain what the noise is and also compare the car to a similar make and model. Unfortunately, it may be a characteristic of the engine. 

Q. I recently took my car to a local auto service for an oil change and the shop made service recommendations that I now fear I did not need. I own a 2015 Acura with about 78,000 miles on it. Their recommendation was to have the power steering fluid and the brake fluid exchanged, as they said the fluids looked dirty. I agreed, but when the invoice came at $327.00, I started thinking that maybe they just needed to make a sale. What am I trying to confirm is whether or not their recommendation was necessary?

A. There is no specific recommendation from Acura to replace the brake or power steering fluid as routine service during the life of the car (although interestingly some Honda models do). If the fluid is dirty or contaminated it certainly makes sense to change it but it may not have been necessary. Typically, at AAA we do recommend brake fluid replacement every three to five years. 

Q. I was told by a local Toyota dealer that a law prohibits a floor mat to be on top of a mat on the driver’s side. To protect my floor mats, I added some carpet remnants. They removed the carpet and I had to put it back. Do you know of any such law? 

A. There is no such law. Now with that said, one of the reasons that some Toyota products years ago may have had unintended acceleration issues was with the floor-mat getting stuck on top of the gas pedal. This is why floor mats in most cars have anchor points. Personally, I would get rid of the carpet remnants. If you are worried about the factory mats getting dirty over winter, change them out for winter mats. Winter mats rubber are bigger and have groves to hold snow, water and sand. 

Q. My Ford Taurus has a problem that if the car sits for three or four days it won’t start. If I get a jump start it fires right up. My battery and starter were fine and everything else tested okay could it be a sensor or fuel pump?

A. If the car starts with a jump and the battery is fully charged, I would look for an electrical problem. On some Ford vehicles the battery ground cable has been known to cause intermittent no-start problems. A technician with a voltmeter will perform a “voltage-drop” test to determine the cause of your car’s intermittent no-start problem.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your car questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook, mrjohnfpaul.