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Timing belt at 22K? You can hold off on that one

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Star Tribune
  • April 8, 2011 - 12:35 AM

QI have a 2004 Toyota Highlander with 22,700 miles on it. I took it in for service and was told the water pump is cracked and I should think about replacing the timing belt at the same time.

AThe shop should be able to show you the water pump crack or the stains from leaking coolant. A cracked water pump definitely should be replaced to prevent significant loss of coolant and potential overheating while driving. As for the timing belt on the 3.3-liter V6 engine, Toyota recommends replacement at 90,000 miles or nine years. While it's convenient and a labor savings to replace this belt at the same time the water pump is replaced, it's a bit premature at this point, particularly in light of the extremely low mileage.

Q I own a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi. After starting the truck when outside temperatures are 28 degrees or lower, it takes 3 to 5 minutes of idling before I can shift into gear. No problems in warmer weather.

A Have you had the transmission fluid and filters changed recently? Chrysler bulletin 21-015-05, dated September 2005, identified the possibility of "a suspect cooler return filter" allowing fluid to drain back from the torque converter overnight.

From your letter, I'm not sure whether the problem is you can't move the shift lever from park to drive or reverse, or that when you do shift into gear nothing happens. If you can't move the shift lever, the BTSI system (brake transmission shifter interlock) may be at fault. If the interlock solenoid, in the steering column, is sticking or binding when cold, you won't be able to move the shift lever out of park even with the brake pedal depressed.

If you can shift into gear but nothing happens, the problem is more likely low hydraulic pressure or sticking solenoids in the transmission. A can of SeaFoam Trans-Tune might help.

QI am the original owner of a '94 Lincoln Town Car with 81,000 miles on it. Recently, the "Brake" light came on and would not go off. I had the car towed to the dealer, but they called and said they don't have the part to fix it, and it would cost $3,000 or more to repair if they could find the part. Is the ABS module a computer or mechanical part? Do you have any suggestions?

AThe electronic brake control module is electronic, but it commands the hydraulic control unit, which operates the antilock brake system (ABS) and the traction control system.

You didn't mention whether your vehicle is equipped with traction control. I'm also concerned by your description of the "Brake" warning light coming on. This red warning light monitors the hydraulic brake system including fluid level in the master cylinder, hydraulic pressure in both halves of the brake system and the application of the parking brake. The yellow ABS/TCS warning light, on the other hand, monitors the ABS and traction control systems.

So ... which warning light is on? If both or just the red "Brake" light stay on, the problem is more likely in the basic hydraulic brake system. If only the ABS/TCS warning light is on, the problem is more likely with the antilock brake or traction control systems. A scan tool should be able to identify specific fault codes to pinpoint the problem.

Check online for remanufactured components and salvage yards for used parts.

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