Q I have experienced something frightening with my '99 Camry. When I turn at an intersection, I feel the power steering cutting out, and I have to hang on to the steering wheel to complete the turn. The garage mechanic says there's plenty of fluid and cannot find any reason for this. It doesn't always happen; it's when I first start out in the morning after it's been out all night in our subzero temperatures.
A The problem may be in the power steering rack-and-pinion assembly, but try dealing with the symptoms first. Add a power-steering fluid treatment like SeaFoam to the reservoir to see if the solvent/cleaning action improves steering performance. If this doesn't work, the power steering system can be flushed and refilled with fresh fluid, removing debris and contamination in the system.
Also, make sure the drive belt for the power steering pump isn't slipping under full load; this would create similar symptoms.
Q I own a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country with the 3.8-liter V6 engine and 105,000 miles. Occasionally, after fueling, the engine will "stumble" as if it is out of fuel -- and then it will run fine. The fuel mileage is a constant 24 to 25 miles per gallon on the highway. I ran injector cleaner through the system, but it still happens. The dealer says the system has no filters, and the dealer has had no similar complaints.
A During hot restarts, a time delay from the computer prevents the purge valve solenoid from allowing fuel vapor from the fuel tank stored in the charcoal canister to be drawn into the intake manifold. The dealer should check the proportional purge valve and the evaporative emission system, and you should make sure you're not unintentionally overfilling the fuel tank. It's called "fuel packing," and it occurs when owners continue to add fuel to the tank after the nozzle's automatic shutoff has stopped the flow of fuel. By trying to squeeze the last tenth of a gallon into the tank, the vapor storage system fills with liquid fuel, creating similar symptoms.
When refueling, wait 5 seconds after the automatic shutoff, add just a bit more to the nearest nickel, and stop.
Q I have a 2000 Chevy Malibu with the 3.1-liter engine. When I drive straight at high speed, I can hear a loud noise coming from the left front side of the car. When I slow down or turn the wheel to the left, the noise gets even louder. I have changed the left front bearing assembly, but the noise is still there. What's causing this? Could it be something inside the CV joint?
A Possibly, but that type of droning noise isn't typical of a worn CV joint. But you might identify the problem by placing the car on a drive-on lift so that it's sitting on its tires, then grabbing and pushing up and down on the inboard and outboard ends of the drive shaft, feeling for movement or play in the inner or outer CV joint.
Far more common is a droning noise from a worn wheel bearing/hub assembly, but you've already replaced that. So, make sure there's no physical contact between the inner sidewall of the tire and the spring/strut assembly, or any rubbing between the tire and the plastic inner fender. Also, sway the front tires from side to side to make sure the noise is not coming from irregular wear or belt damage in the tire itself.