Paul Brand

Columnist | Cars
Paul Brand writes about autos for the Star Tribune.

Recent content from Paul Brand

Today, extended warranty may be worth the money

A My perspective on extended warranties or service contracts, as they are often called, has evolved quite a bit in the nearly 30 years I've done this column. In fact, my position is exactly the opposite of what it was in the '80s. With the massive costs of purchasing, operating and repairing modern automobiles, I think extended warranty/service contracts are almost a no-brainer in many cases.

Updated: October 12, 2012, - 03:58 PM

Altima driver's window won't close in one touch

A It seems the window safety switch thinks the glass has hit something -- like fingers! -- before fully closing. This causes the window to reopen several inches to free any pinched pinkies.

Updated: October 05, 2012, - 04:52 PM

When it's time for a coolant change, does the type matter?

As coolants and engine technology continue to improve, I've softened my position on coolant changes. Assuming a long-life coolant and 15,000-25,000 annual mileage, I'm willing to go five years now -- a huge step for me!

Updated: September 28, 2012, - 04:07 PM

Plastic spray nozzle might be lost in Sea Ray's engine

The red plastic straw got sucked into a four-cylinder GM engine on a 1972 Sea Ray boat. Now what?

Updated: September 21, 2012, - 04:04 PM

Check Engine light is on, and mechanic's not helping

What's interesting about this question is that the mechanic is trying to pinpoint the problem by asking the car owner to do all the work!

Updated: September 14, 2012, - 04:04 PM

Nissan Sentra burns up oil, but only on the highway

A Ah, such fond memories. My old Jeep Grand Wagoneers used to suffer this problem. The engines were "tired" -- lots of miles on them on the big V-8's - so the excess combustion blow-by into the crankcase overwhelmed the PCV system's capability to draw these vapors into the induction system and burn them. The excess crankcase pressure also forced oil past the piston rings as well as into the PCV system, progressively choking it off and causing high oil consumption. Back then I had a simple fix: Replace the PCV valve every six months and "roto-rooter" out the PCV passages with part of an old speedometer cable.

Updated: September 07, 2012, - 09:22 PM

It's not easy to bring back tires once uneven wear starts

The rear tires are cupping, and the fronts are becoming louder and louder. What is going on?

Updated: August 31, 2012, - 04:00 PM

Finding source of Tracer's stalling will take sleuthing

A When dealing with drivability issues, always remember the "KISS" principle -- start with the simple stuff first. In this case, the reason the engine continues to idle with the air conditioning engaged is the step-up in idle speed commanded by the powertrain control module (PCM). The first things to try would be to clean the injectors and decarbonize the induction system with a fuel system/fuel injection cleaner like Sea Foam or GM's Top Engine Cleaner. Then check for any type of vacuum leak that could lean out the idle. And check for splits or tears in the rubber boots and hoses downstream from the throttle body and MAF (mass airflow sensor). The idle speed should be 780 rpm (plus or minus 50 rpm) with the air conditioning off.

Updated: August 24, 2012, - 04:08 PM

Speedometers can reach stratosphere for a reason

Most new cars and a lot of used cars have speedometer gauges that go as high as 120 to 160 miles per hour. Why so high?

Updated: August 17, 2012, - 03:53 PM

Found under Buick's hood: Free addition to your toolbox

When a broken serpentine belt got changed, there was a pair of Vise-Grips with pieces of rubber hose over each end pinching off the overflow hose just below the radiator cap.

Updated: August 03, 2012, - 03:59 PM

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