Q. I own a 2001 Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup truck. I use it for dump runs and trips to the home improvement store. It has the smaller V-8 engine. My question involves the fuel pump. My friend (who in fact sold me the truck) states that GM pick-up truck fuel pumps usually fail after 125-135,000 miles. He has owned a few Silverado trucks and apparently they all have failed in this range. My concern is that I have just reached 135K and feel as though I am walking on eggshells! Would you be able to verify this? I have also asked my garage for an estimate on replacement and they quoted approximately $720.00 which sounds very expensive. Is this price out of line? What should I do?
A. I have seen the fuel pumps fail in these trucks in as little as 75,000 miles and have seen them last more than 200,000 miles. The main reason a fuel pump fails is driving with very little fuel in the tank. The fuel in the tank helps to cool the pump, therefore if you drive around with the low fuel light on all the time it, may be time to replace the pump. The other issue could be related to the wiring. I have seen the connector at the pump fail as well. The fuel pump itself is nearly $500 and according to the data base I use, Alldata, it will take three hours to remove the fuel tank and replace the pump.
Q. I have a 2005 Honda Pilot with 108,000 miles. When it reached 95,000 miles, it started vibrating in the rear of the vehicle when I was accelerating between 30-40 mph. It goes away quickly, but happens quite frequently. The vibration noise disappears both when I accelerate and when I take my foot off the gas. I had it at the dealer for three days and they were not able to identify the noise, yet my passengers can all hear the vibration. I also occasionally hear a vibration in the front of the car. I am wondering if there are two separate issues with the noise being in the front on occasion and also in the back. I definitely hear the noise from the back of the car more frequently. Any ideas on what could be causing this? I read your column every week and I am a big fan. Thank you.
A. Honda uses a very specific rear differential fluid (VTM4). This fluid is design to work with Honda’s active torque rear differential. Over time this fluid will wear out and cause a chatter. Since the dealer couldn’t find any mechanical problems, ask them about changing the fluid. I have seen many cases where this will help. In regard to the noise in the front of the car, that could be the result of a loose/vibrating exhaust heat shield.
Q. I hope you can shed some light on a non-mechanical question. I have a 2003 Volvo S60, and am having a problem with the radio. At times I am unable to hold a station. This happens throughout the winter, and it is starting to happen as the weather has gotten warmer. For some unknown reason, the digital stations will scan through nonstop, or just move up or down one station. Sometimes tuning the radio with the steering wheel button helps, or else I just turn the radio off and start over. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
A. Volvo did issue a technical bulletin for erratic radio operation. Apparently a cable inside the CD player portion of the radio chafes and causes problems. There is no specific repair other that replacing the radio.
Q. I’m hoping you can settle an argument between me and my wife. She is convinced that if we use premium gas in our car we will get better fuel mileage. I see gas prices have gone down a few cents, but I think it is just a waste of money. What do you think?
A. If the car was designed for premium fuel, follow the recommendations of the owner’s manual for the best performance and mileage. If it is designed to run on 87 octane regular, paying for premium is just a waste of money.
Q. I admit it, I’m having a mid life crisis, maybe even past “mid-life”. Rather than get myself in real trouble, with women and gambling like some of my friends, I thought I would buy one of the new “muscle” cars. I have been looking at the Camaro, Ford Mustang, and the Chrysler Challenger. I liked these cars in the sixties and seventies and still do. Have you driven any of these cars? What do you like best?
A. The Challenger is the best representation of the muscle car era, although for both good and bad reasons. The performance, ride, and exhaust note are very nice. Like cars of the 70’s the handling and steering are not up to 21st century standards. Although the Mustang has the smallest engine, it has great performance and the steering and handling are very good. The Camaro was always one of my favorite cars and with its big V-8, has plenty of muscle. GM did a good job with styling the interior. Although the Camaro draws plenty of cues from the 1968 and 1969 models, the style doesn’t appeal to me except with the convertible which I really like. In my opinion, the overall best combination is the Mustang; it is just a good value for the money. The Mustang has a variety of variants and the Boss Mustang is one of my favorites. On final item, don’t dismiss the V-6 engines in any of these models. The 6-cylinder engines offer great fuel economy and some are over 300 horsepower. At the end of the day, buy what you like and will enjoy, as you pointed out it is cheaper and safer than the alternative.
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About Boston Overdrive
|Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
|Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
|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.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
|Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
|Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
|George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee