Q: I have a 1998 Chevy Astro that won’t stop overheating. I have had fan belt, hoses, the fan clutch, temperature gauge and radiator replaced. In desperation, I bought a used engine and had it installed. The temperature gauge still goes up to 3/4 and most of the time comes back down while still driving. Sometimes I have to park it and wait several hours to get it to cool back down. What is left to check?
A: I had a similar car problem many years ago. The customer had done most of the repairs you listed. My shop checked all the mechanical and cooling functions and found them to be working fine. The problem happened to be a missing air dam in the front of the vehicle. Check that all the plastic components below the grill are properly in place, as well as the electric fan. You may want to check the radiator fan to make sure it is not spinning backward. The fan should be pulling in air from the outside. A fan running in reverse will be blowing air out of the grill — that’s not what you want.
Q: I have a 2001 Acura MDX. It has about 130,000 miles. My husband thinks we should replace the water pump and the timing belt as a precautionary measure at this time. Do you agree? By the way, I emailed you once before regarding the SRS light that was always on. The dealership fixed it for nothing and said it was covered under warranty ... not bad for a 10-year-old car. I just wish I had known this before I took it elsewhere for this problem and spent a needless several hundred dollars that did not resolve the problem.
A: I agree with your husband. A timing belt with 130,000 miles and over 10 years old is suspect for breakage. Your engine is an interference engine, and valve damage could result if and when the timing belt breaks. I would suggest having a BG coolant flush at the same time you replace your drive belts and water pump.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears periodically on Tuesdays. Write to Larry at Auto Scanner, c/o Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.