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The Yankee Express

Timing chain in VW engine should last the life of the car

John Paul

Q. After reading your recent article, I was wondering whether my car has a timing belt or a timing chain. I own a 2017 Volkswagen Passat SEL Premium with a 1.8 Liter Turbo.  It is an absolutely great vehicle and has been a joy to own. 
A. Over the years Volkswagen has gone back and forth between timing belts and timing chains. In your vehicle with the 1.8-liter engine it uses a timing chain. Volkswagen did have some issues with timing chain failure in earlier years due to the timing chain guides. With your car if the engine is well maintained, there is no reason to think the timing chain shouldn’t last the life of the car. 

Q. I have 1986 Dodge Aries that is running poorly. I am trying to get a scan tool for this engine, but all I find is the OBD 1 (on-board-diagnostics) to OBD 2 adapter wire. Can use that with the OBD2 scanner for 1996- 2022 cars on my Dodge? My mechanic already changed the computer and cap, rotor and spark plugs. Although, that did not fix the running condition, it has a high idle, and bad fuel milage. 
A. These cars had pretty good on-board diagnostics that didn’t require a scan tool. Cycle the ignition key ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON within five seconds. Then count the number of times the “check engine” lamp flashes on and off. The number of flashes represents the code. A code of 55 is the end of the code string. If you only get a code 55 there are no hard error codes stored in the computer. It has been my experience that if there are no vacuum leaks and the idle speed control motor is operating normally, the issue is a poor electrical ground. The main grounding point is near the thermostat housing and over time these connections get corroded and cause a host of drivability problems. 

Q. I’m looking for a big SUV for my growing family, not something quite as big as a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition XL. I have narrowed my choices to the Nissan Armada, GMC Yukon or Tahoe and Toyota Sequoia, any thoughts on these? 
A. They are all good choices if a large SUV is what you are looking for. In the spirit of full disclosure, I only have driven the 2023 Sequoia a short distance, the hybrid drive seemed to work smoothly but I found the ride a bit stiff. The Armada is a good choice and a bit cheaper than the competition. Recently I evaluated the 2023 Chevy Tahoe which is very similar to the GMC Yukon. I found the performance from the big V-8 engine impressive and 10-speed transmission was a great match to the engine. There is seating for up to eight and even in the third-row adults can be comfortable. The second and third rows fold flat, and the cargo space is cavernous. Fuel economy was with the 6.2-liter V-8 was according to the EPA 14 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway. My road test was mostly city driving and I averaged 15.2 MPG according to the on-board computer and premium fuel is recommended. Like all new vehicles it is important to road test the tech and I found all of the controls simple and easy to use. Of the vehicles you are looking at I would put the Chevy Tahoe/Yukon, first, Toyota Sequoia second and Nissan Armada in third place.

Q. I own a 1991 Ford Mustang ragtop, with only 91,000 miles on it which is garaged in my winter home in Florida. I installed four new Cooper Cobra tires about 3000 miles ago.  I returned once in summer and once in fall to check on things. When I got there two tires were flat. I went to two different tire shops to check for leak and northing was found. Could the original rims be the problem. Can I add a sealant to stop the leak?
A. Although tire sealant may work it would be my last resort. I would rather the tires were removed from the wheels, then the wheels cleaned, and a bead sealer used to get a better seal. Corrosion on the wheels can over time can be the problem and sometimes the cleaning and sealing solves the problem. But yes at 32 years old the wheels could even be starting to get porous or are beyond the point of sealing and may need replacement. 

Q. I brought my car into the garage, and they replaced the two front wheel bearings and hub assemblies. When I picked the car up it seemed okay then I started hearing a slight whistling sound, didn’t think much of it so I just shut my window and continue to drive within 10 minutes I was slowing to a stop to take a right hand turn I was going very slow as a residential neighborhood I slightly pressed on the brake as I was taking my right hand turn and it just started clanging and rocking really loud with the lightest pressure on the brakes  I never had any issues of that nature prior to bring my car into the garage. What should I do? 
A. Don’t drive the car and have it towed back to the garage to be inspected. From your description it sounds as if the mechanic may have not secured a brake caliper. When the brakes are applied the caliper may be jumping off its mount and hitting the inside of the wheel.  

John Paul is an 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 questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook, jrjohnfpaul.