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Hose clamp headache!

Posted by John Paul  October 3, 2011 11:33 AM

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Q. I recently had to replace a radiator hose on my car. The hose clamps were nearly impossible to reach. What should have taken an hour to replace a leaky hose took just about three hours. I always have done my own maintenance work, but these clamps and the accessibility of the hose certainly have taken the fun out of working on my car. Any suggestions?

A. You are most likely referring to a flat band spring clamp. These clamps work pretty well but in when buried in an engine compartment, make a simple job, time consuming and frustrating. If you find yourself doing these jobs often, there are special spring clamp pliers that make life easier. Any good auto parts store should have these pliers in their tool sections and in some case may lend them out or rent them.

Q. While reading your column today about changing brake fluid and tire shelf life, I was thinking about car owners, like myself, that have an older, low mileage vehicle. Since you are often responding to specific car make/model questions, my question is more generic. I have a 2001 Honda S2000 and have been a shade tree mechanic for a long time. I change the oil every 3,000 miles, almost an annual event since the car has 30,000 miles. What should I do about the other 10 year old parts and fluids that show no wear since the car is just barely broken in? Would you provide a little advice on all the fluids, including oil, belts and hoses? Also I changed the tires about 5 years ago, and while they show little wear, might they be deteriorating due to age?

A. When you have a car like yours it really comes down to what you expect from the car in terms of dependability. An old tire that looks good might be okay for local driving but not a tire that you want to take cross country. At AAA the top reasons we go out to rescue motorists are flat tires and dead batteries. Tires that are five or more years old should be carefully checked, brake fluid should be changed every few years. Belts and hoses can last up to 10 years but in some cases can fail earlier. The best maintenance you can do is to periodically give your car a good “onceover” twice a year to look for potential problems.
Q. I own a 2005 Cadillac Deville with 80,000 miles on the odometer. I believe I will probably need tires when I go to get the car inspected in a couple of months. My car has a tire air pressure monitoring system, which has to be re-set whenever the tires are rotated or taken off the rim. I believe it is recommended that valve stems and/or valve caps) be replaced when replacing tires, but my question is will I have to replace the tire monitors?

A. The valve stem is part of the tire pressure monitor. It is a good idea to replace the valve cap as a maintenance item. If there is a leak, replacing the “O” ring and Schrader valve which are part of the tire pressure monitor, is a recommended procedure. The actual sensors will generally last the life of the vehicle.

Q. In a recent article about the Nissan GT-R you mentioned that if a driver uses “launch control” and the vehicle breaks it won’t be covered under warranty. Why would a manufacturer allow a feature that could cause damage to the car?

A. Regarding the Nissan GT-R here are the details. Damage caused by abuse is never under warranty. As an example is someone was to repeatedly “drop the clutch” and burn it out, this would not be a warranty issue. Wear on a maintenance items is also generally not warrantable. Damage or failures that occur with VDC (vehicle dynamic control) OFF is not warrantable. If the VDC-R start mode (launch control) is engaged with VDC ON, and there was a failure, then this may be a covered procedure. The high performance Nissan GT-R is equipped with fail-safes that protect the car and inhibit VDC-R start mode, if temperatures are too high. The bottom line is; if you abuse a vehicle there is a good chance you, the owner and not the manufacturer will be paying to get it repaired.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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