Paul Brand

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

Recent content from Paul Brand

Excess brake dust could be mismatch of pads, rotors

The front pads and rotors were replaced about a month ago, but the amount of dust does not seem to be decreasing with use.

Updated: May 04, 2012, - 04:10 PM

Synthetic oil may cost more, but it's a good investment

With two oil and filter changes per year, the additional cost for synthetic oil is nominal and insignificant in the overall total cost of owning, operating, fueling, maintaining, repairing, licensing and depreciating the automobile.

Updated: April 27, 2012, - 03:47 PM

An overheating engine has long list of possible suspects

No steam appears when the engine is overheating, so I assume the radiator cap and hoses are not leaking. What tests I can do to rule out the simple problems like a worn radiator cap, malfunctioning thermostat, plugged radiator, or air in the cooling system? Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Updated: April 20, 2012, - 04:08 PM

Looking for low miles is good car-shopping strategy

His sister is looking for a 2004 or 2005 Toyota RAV4, but she will not look at one with more than 40,000 miles. She is convinced that the lower the miles, the more desirable the vehicle, no matter what.

Updated: April 13, 2012, - 03:56 PM

Short commute can mean moisture in your engine

The low mileage would seem to indicate infrequent use or short trips -- both of which can promote condensation inside an engine. Other potential causes are low engine operating temperature, a blocked positive crankcase ventilation system or a failed temperature regulator thermal vacuum valve, which is designed to preheat incoming induction air.

Updated: April 06, 2012, - 03:46 PM

Problem with idling Camry takes extra detective work

A Perhaps the shop can connect a data recorder to the diagnostic link and have you drive the car until it stalls. They may be able to download the data at the time the engine stalls and determine the cause of the shutdown.

Updated: March 30, 2012, - 06:44 PM

If your car runs well on lower octane, don't worry about it

Operate your vehicle on the lowest-octane fuel that provides good performance, driveability and fuel economy. Any additional octane is unnecessary and a waste of money.

Updated: March 23, 2012, - 03:37 PM

Flushing, replacing oil won't fix cause of consumption

The accepted standard for "normal" oil consumption is a maximum of one quart per 2,000 miles.

Updated: March 16, 2012, - 03:54 PM

If you have run-flat tires, you shouldn't need a spare

Run-flat tires are designed to do precisely that -- operate safely with zero air pressure for a reasonable distance at modest speed.

Updated: March 09, 2012, - 04:41 PM

Brand: Octane recommendations aren't written in stone

A The rule of thumb is to use the lowest-octane gasoline that will operate the engine efficiently. For the vast majority of modern cars and trucks, that means regular unleaded, which is typically 87 octane. The octane rating of gasoline is a measure of the fuel's resistance to ignition, meaning the higher the octane rating, more heat and pressure are required to "start the fire." If the recommended octane gasoline provides proper starting, power, drivability and efficiency, there's no benefit to using higher-octane fuel.

Updated: March 02, 2012, - 04:25 PM

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