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Paul Brand

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

Brand: Car that won't start after fueling is a real Saab story

Q: I am having an odd problem with my 2001 Saab 9-3. After the car is fueled, it is hard to start. I have to…

Brand: Paint the whole side of a car over a door scratch?

Q: I recently put an 18-inch scratch on the rear passenger side door of my 2015 Subaru Outback. It is a fairly narrow scratch, but…

Brand: Infrequent driving can cause battery problems

Q: The battery on my husband's 2014 Lexus ES350 died this weekend. He hadn't driven it for three days. This was about one week after…

Brand: Son deflects Dad's offer to ease bug strikes on car

Q: My son lives in an area in New York where the roads drop down through much swampland. The insects tend to really coat the…

Brand: Use torque wrench to tighten Corvette's lug nuts

Q: I have a 2008 Corvette C6 with 44,000 miles. It continues to be a trouble-free delight to drive. My only concern is that when…

Brand: Honda owner advised to change oil twice as often

Q: I have a 2009 Honda Civic and regularly change the oil when the Maintenance Minder calculates the remaining oil life as less than 5…

Brand: Aftermarket catalytic converters OK for Lexus

Q: I've been told that the catalytic converter on my 2007 Lexus 350 with 100,000 miles on it has failed. I intend to keep my…

Brand: 'Crank but no start'? Check for spark, check for fuel

Q: I have a 1995 Ford E250 V8 van with 100,000 miles on it. Last September I went to the store for 15 minutes, when…

Brand: Driver error most likely cause of Sonata's crash

Q: My sister totaled her 2008 Hyundai Sonata recently. It was a sunny, 70-degree, clear day. She was stopped at a stoplight behind a delivery…

Brand: Lightly driven Edge just needs some annual care

Q: In 2009, we purchased a new 2008 Ford Edge. My husband followed all required maintenance. He passed away last year and last October I…

Brand: Intrigue's warning lights are, well, intriguing

Q: I have a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue with only 127,000 miles on it. It has been well maintained, is in very good condition and runs…

Brand: Hard-starting Sentra may have low fuel pressure

Q: I recently purchased a 2004 Nissan Sentra with the four-cylinder 1.8 engine and 74,000 original miles. From Day 1 it's had off-and-on hard…

Brand: Shift to neutral at stop? Listen to your mother!

Q: I'm writing to you hoping you can resolve an argument I have with my mother. When stopped at a stoplight on red, I shift…

Brand: Oil-change advisory light makes driver nervous

Q: I just purchased a 2014 Chevy Equinox that uses synthetic oil. The owner's manual tells me a light will come on when it is…

Brand: Camry headrests seem to be wearing out too quickly

Q: I own a 2014 Toyota Camry purchased in October 2014 that now has about 13,000 miles on it. I noticed that the headrests for…

Brand: Throttle body could be 'powering down' Impala

Q: My 2008 Chevy Impala 3500 V6 has its computer state "Engine power down" and then dings. The engine light goes on. The engine powers…

Brand: LT tires are best choice for trailer-towing truck

Q: We have a 28-foot travel trailer that we tow with a 2012 Ram 1500 4X4 with a 5.7-liter engine. The trailer has a loaded…

Brand: Camry is just not a very hot car, for some reason

Q: I own a 2012 Toyota Camry with the 2.5-liter engine. I have a problem in cold weather getting the engine to heat up to…

Brand: Cherokee's noise annoys its owner; check rear shocks

Q: I own a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with just under 40,000 miles on it. I've been experiencing a creaking noise while going over uneven…

Brand: Non-oxy fuel won't harm newer engines

Q: I was interested in your column on diesel fuel in gasoline engines. In the summer at our lake home I buy ethanol-free gasoline. I…

Brand: Cars don't need excessive warm-up time

Q: I have a 2013 Subaru Impreza. I have to wait until the blue thermostat light on the dash goes off before I should drive…

Brand: Several possible remedies for Kia's stubborn key

Q: I own a 2008 Kia Optima with 38,000 miles. I frequently have trouble turning the ignition key. I have to vigorously jerk the steering…

Brand: Tiny transistor could be the culprit in key fob failure

Q: My 2006 Corvette key fobs work in every way except to start the car in the normal way. I have followed directions to "reprogram"…

Brand: One more rotation of the nitrogen/tire issue

Q: The air that you are breathing in “the real world” is pretty much the same as the air that Dr. MacBain is breathing in…

Brand: Low coolant temp may be hurting Fit's gas mileage

Q: I My wife and I recently purchased a 2007 Honda Fit with 103,000 miles on it. Unfortunately, the car gets crappy gas mileage: 22…

Paul Brand: Real world take on nitrogen-filled tires

As a follow-up to my column regarding nitrogen use in tires, this from John MacBain, Ph.D.:"Nitrogen obeys the same universal gas law as oxygen, hydrogen,…

Brand: EVAP leak may be triggering Charger's 'Check' light

Q: My 2013 Charger R/T has a recurrent issue with the "Check engine" light. I was advised to open and close the gas tank door…

Brand: Did car buyer get all the tire nitrogen that was promised?

Q: I purchased a new car with nitrogen-filled tires as part of the dealer's accessory kit. The next morning after driving the car home I…

Brand: Grand Cherokee shimmies down the highway

Q: I have a problem with my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 154,000 miles. While driving at speeds greater than 45 miles per hour I…

Brand: Finding the key to Mazda's maladies

Q: Please help! Neither my local Mazda dealer nor independents can come up with a solution to the problem with my 2006 Mazda Tribute. Not…

For a change, let's wrench on some grammar issues

For the first column of the new year, let's shift gears and hear several of the better responses to the pressing question of whether an…

Brand: No time like the present to switch to synthetic oil

Q: I just purchased a new car — a 2016 Honda HRV. How soon can I switch to synthetic oil?A: At the first oil change,…

Brand: Several possible causes for Honda Pilot's noise

Q: I have a 2004 Honda Pilot with 92,000 miles. Over the past year or so, I hear a momentary (1 to 2 seconds) whirring/rumbling/vibration…

Brand: Dexos oil standard a reliable sign of quality

Q: Could you please bring me up to speed on the different oils now used in car engines? The oil fill cap on my new…

Brand: Check solenoid on Buick's torque converter clutch

Q: I have 2002 Buick LeSabre 3800 V6 with about 126,000 miles. When stopped at a stop sign it will die (infrequently so far). It…

Brand: Let transmission perform its main mission

Q: I always enjoy your columns but the one on downshifting confused me a little. We have a 2013 Toyota Corolla with 7,000 miles and…

Brand: The upside and downside of downshifting

Q: I have a 2011 Subaru Outback with the 2.5-liter engine. I want to know if it is harmful to downshift often without using the…

Brand: 'Shaky' minivan needs a thorough inspection

Q: We have a 2009 Chrysler Town & Country with 63,000 miles on it. It has a relatively violent shake when you apply the brakes…

Brand: Why not disable cellphones in cars? It's complicated

Q: For years I have wondered why the use of cellphones is not jammed when the vehicle’s wheels are in motion. The U.S. government has…

Multiple explanations for Impala's scraping noise

Q: I had my 2012 Impala LTZ in the shop for a noise. The rear struts were replaced along with front rotors and pads. The…

Brand: Something's not adding up in Honda's fuel capacity

Q: The stated fuel capacity of my wife’s 2013 Honda Pilot is 21.0 gallons. This morning I filled it with 22.147 gallons of gas, even…

Brand: Owner rattled by Accord that rattles at start-up

Q: I purchased a 2012 Honda Accord with 39,890 miles. It now has 41,458 miles. The first few hundred miles I heard a slight and…

Gasoline with nitrogen poses no risk to engines

Q: The other day I stopped at a Shell station and found their higher-octane gas contained nitrogen. I believe it said it was an additive.…

Brand: Reader suggests jamming cellphone signals in cars

Q: In response to the question about cellphone use while driving, there is a simple, relatively inexpensive solution. Insurance companies lobby the federal government to…

Comprehensive approach would train drivers best

Q: A lot of lives could be saved if carmakers devised a system where your car wouldn’t run if your phone was on or vice…

Paul Brand:

Q: I would like to hear your opinion on flex-fuel vehicles. I assume these vehicles can use regular gasoline with 10 percent ethanol or E85…

Brand: Dashboard light is out – time for a new car?

Q: I have a 2002 Buick Century with 58,947 miles. The indicator light for the gear position and odometer is out (dark). I was told…

Brand: Foot on brake essential to shift out of Park

Q: Our 2007 Buick Rendezvous at times will not shift from Park. It seems frozen there. If we turn on the ignition and put it…

Brand: The way we drive, safety systems are a blessing

Q: What is your opinion regarding the rapid introduction of “driver aids,” from simple warning systems up to but not including driverless cars? A: Thanks…

Brand:

Q: My 2004 Buick Park Avenue Ultra with 60,000 miles misses when restarted hot. The missing lasts for no more than 30 seconds. My mechanic…

Brand: GM heat/ventilation troubles could be linked to ... the radios?

Q: In April I leased a Cadillac ATS. I run the HVAC system in the “Auto” mode with the temperature set the same on both…

Brand: Is something in the air triggering Ford's warning light?

Q: Several times when I’ve been driving my 2004 Ford Taurus I’ve been zapped at a highway patrol scanner point. There was a loud beep…

Brand: S-10's warning lights an on-again/off-again thing

Q: I have a 2003 Chevrolet S10 with 70,000 miles. A month ago the ABS and brake warning lights came on. The next time I…

Needs vs. wants in choice of 4-wheel or front-drive

Q: I would like your opinion on the advantages of 4WD vs. FWD vehicles. I loved my first front-wheel-drive vehicle, an early ’80s Chevy Citation,…

Some Nissan warranties extended due to defect

Q: Can you tell me if you have any information on radiator fluid getting into the transmissions of 2005+ Nissan Xterras? Is there a service…

Brand: Will tire with low pressure place stress on drivetrain?

Q: You’ve spent a lot of ink on tire diameter differences caused by unusual tire wear. How about describing the impact of one low-air-pressure tire…

Brand: Two choices for addressing Caravan's starting woes

Q: My wife has a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan with 76,000 miles. We are having an ongoing problem over the past two years with the…

Brand: Keep car or trade it in?

Q: I own a 2005 Chevy Malibu with 75,000 miles on it. I have kept up with oil changes religiously since buying the car new.…

Brand: Revisiting tire diameter on 4/AWD vehicles

Q: While I agree that tires are an important safety component, I mildly disagree that they are relatively low-cost (new tires on my 2003 Expedition…

Brand: Tale of two vehicles is a noisy story

Here are two completely different vehicles with a very similar problem.Q: I have a 2010 Chevy Cobalt with just under 50,000 miles on it. It…

Brand: Tire diameter crucial with AWD, 4-wheel drive

Q: I have 50,000 miles on my 2010 Acura MDX with all-wheel drive and 18-inch Dunlap tires. I have been informed that one of the…

Brand: Cougar was dormant; now it won't run

Q: I have some questions regarding the fuel pump on my 1995 Mercury Cougar with the 4.6-liter V-8. The car was garaged for about three…

Infiniti owner balks at $2,600 part replacement

Q: I have a 2010 Infiniti EX35. Last December my engine light went on and I had the codes checked at AutoZone — P0014 and…

Dead Cadillac battery may be linked to heated seats

Q: My 2006 Cadillac DTS has had a battery problem ever since I purchased it used in 2010. The morning after I bought the car,…

Brand: Odyssey's gas pedal has dead spot

Q: I bought a 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring with all the gadgets I could think of. And while I love the van, there's one thing…

Brand: Odyssey's gas pedal has dead spot

Q: I bought a 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring with all the gadgets I could think of. And while I love the van, there's one thing…

Ignition key in Chevy Sonic is acting demonic

Q: We are having trouble with our 2012 Chevy Sonic. The key gets stuck and won't come out of the ignition. And now, the key…

Inflating tires with pure nitrogen has some benefit

Q: This has been bugging me too long. The first time I heard about nitrogen in tires I thought it was a joke. When I…

Stethoscope can be used to diagnose car troubles

Q: I have a 2005 3.8-liter Chrysler Town & Country with about 152,000 miles on it. It has a constant engine noise like a diesel…

Which tire pressure rating should motorists heed?

Q: My mother has a 2011 Honda CRV with 13,000 miles and original tires. She just got back home after two months away and her…

'Dartboard approach' is not hitting the right target

Q: I have a 2006 Dodge Dakota that has a whirring nose that appears to be coming from the gas tank area. One mechanic diagnosed…

Brand: Lights out time for owner of CR-V

Q: I have a 2006 Honda CR-V which I purchased new. I have replaced the driver's side headlamp eight times and the passenger side six…

Brand: Aging Infiniti could use some new struts

Q: We have a 1999 Infiniti I30 with 122,000 miles that runs well but has one issue — at highway speeds the car noticeably "jumps"…

Repair shops unable to find source of van's 'clunk'

Q: I have a nice '93 GMC conversion van that has been stored winters since new. There is a clunking sound when moving forward or…

Durango's HVAC blower may have bad connection

Q: I have a 2002 V8 Dodge Durango. For the past five years we have been having issues with the HVAC four-speed blower control. We've…
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