2002 Toyota Rav4 Wearing Front Tires On The Outside

Molly’s question:

My brother in law keeps wearing tires out on his 2002 Rav 4. They don’t last 20 thousand miles before the outside of both front tires wear down the tread. He’s been told by the dealer his alignment is good. What could be wrong?


Well, there has to be something wrong with the alignment for them to wear out that way UNLESS he doesn’t keep proper air pressure in the tires.
And even then it would tend to wear both the outside and the inside edge of the front tires if the pressure was low, and the middle of the tire if the pressure was too high. It wouldn’t just wear the outside of both tires. I’d advise him to call around independant front end alignment shops in his area, or ask his friends if they know of any such shops.
And if he can’t find one himself, then call a big diesel repair shop–because if they don’t also align small trucks like his Rav 4, they would certainly know of a shop in his area who did good work on them. That’s how I find such places myself– word of mouth beats all.

2004 Ford F250 Eating Rear Brakes

Bruce’s question:

My 2004 Ford 250 van keeps eating up rear brake pads. The inner pads on both sides wear out, while the outer pads still have over half their thickness left. I’ve done two brake jobs in the last year, and it keeps wearing the same. I even changed callipers but to no avail. What can I do to fix this?


I’ll bet you drive it where there’s a lot of dirt and mud. Ford knows about mud jamming in the callipers, and has redesigned the dust shields that are located behind the callipers. The older shields had too big a gap and dirty mud would get by them and jam up the pads. So take a trip to the Ford dealer and buy a pair of these new shields. That should stop this problem in its tracks.

1999 Geo Prizm Automatic Transmission Grinding Noise (Need rebuild?)

Andy’s question:

My 99 Geo Prism has started making a horrible noise when I put it into drive and attempt to drive. It sounds like a coffee grinder. the engine runs fine when idling, but when I try to drive, the noise starts up and the car will barely move.


Yes, unfortunately for you, this is a VERY common problem in those Prisms. The automatic transmissions are rather weak and when they break down, they often start to sound like a big coffee grinder. Basically, the transmission is breaking up inside, and it would cost SO much to repair your transmission with these broken parts that getting another one is the only logical thing to do.

Search around salvage yards or call some salvage importers from Japan (like Unitex) to see if you can get a good used transmission. The last time I saw someone actually rebuild one of those coffee can trannies, the final bill was around three thousand dollars. And the last time I saw a used transmission installed, the bill was less than a thousand dollars drive out.

2004 Ford Ranger 4×4 4 liter left front brake pad wearing to metal

Todd Mueller’s question:

Ok. Have a 2004 ford ranger 4×4 4.0 liter, bought it new… one of the front rotors starting getting ground at maybe somewhere around 30k miles or so, and I dont drive really aggressive. I am going to replace pads and rotors, already did the pads awhile back, but I am at 50k miles now and time to do it right, just am concerned that if maybe one of my calipers had been seizing up and caused the one front break to burn down so fast, at the time, when the one side actually went all the way down to the rivets of the pad touching the rotor the brake on the other side of the front still had about 1/2 pad or so, give or take, it was a drastic difference, I’m going to do the work myself, but dont want to spend the money on new rotors and pads, just to possibly have a bad caliper act up again, if it did, how can i check that and feel confident of whether i have a caliper problem or not? my email is {removed}. you are welcome to post about this on your site if you like, but please email me directly if you could. Thank you in advance for your insight


That is a REAL dramatic difference in wear. As a professional mechanic, I have a pressure gauge that I hook up to both callipers (two gauges, one for each side.) Then I slam on the brakes, and check the readings on each side to see if the pressures are the same. And then I check to see that both sides released the pressure.

BUT, you’re not going to buy that outfit, so basically drive around the block and brake REALLY hard a bunch of times. Then quick lift up the front end and see if the worn side is sticking on. If it is, then open up the bleeder valve on that calliper. If the pressure releases and the wheel spins freely, then the problem isn’t the calliper, it’s something on the other end, like a sticking master cylinder or bad ABS modulator (if you have ABS.)

If the wheel is still sticking on even if you released the bleeder valve pressure, then the calliper is bad on that side. Also pay attention to the sliders on that calliper to make sure they aren’t binding. ALWAYS lubricate them with brake grease when you do a brake job so they don’t stick. Good Luck,

Toyota front suspension collision repair

Paul’s question:

I had an accident a couple of months ago and damaged the right front tire axle and A frame etc. The accident pushed the whole tire into the wheel well several inches and made the tire lay at an angle. Well I took it to a third party mechanic and i am not sure what he did becuase I had to go out of town during the time he had it.

He got me back on the road but that was about it. Every time i put it in drive or reverse it will make a clunking noise one time in either direction. And when that clunk noise happens the front tire will rock inward for drive and outward for reverse. I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do myslef that could eliminate this clunking noise?


30-toyota-avensisIf at all possible, take it back to that guy, he didn’t do his job correctly. BUT, if you want to try something yourself, jack up that side and pull on the wheel back and forth, and up and down. Then try to see what’s got play in it. If you visit a junk yard with a similar truck, you could buy parts a LOT cheaper than brand new Toyota parts.

And if you’re not too mechanical yourself, ask at the junk yard if they or a mechanic they know would install used parts from them on it. And if push comes to shove, if they at least put used parts on correctly, you could then go to a good front end shop and they could align it. You could have worn ball joints, or maybe even a bent a frame that they just didn’t bother to check. Good Luck,

How To Determine Oxygen Sensor Location?

Jason’s question:

I’ve got a bad oxygen sensor on my 2002 ML 500. The code said bank 1, sensor one. I see four sensors on the car. Which one is this?


bank1-sensor1-locationBank one sensor one is the oxygen sensor on the driver’s side exhaust, just past the exhaust manifold. For all those out there, bank one is always the bank where the number one cylinder of the engine is. Using any other terminology just confuses things, like left side or right side (since this really depends upon where you are– sitting inside the car or standing in front of the hood.) And number one sensor is always the sensor before the catalytic converter, with number two being the sensor after the catalytic converter.

1999 Cadillac Deville C1277 ABS Trouble Code

Julius’s question:

The traction control light flashes on and off in my 99 Deville. It had code C1277 when I had it scanned. Something about the ABS module. But the brakes feel fine to me. What should I do?


Yes, the ABS module costs a small fortune on that Cadillac. BUT, I fixed one last month with the same problem. It turned out the electrical connector on the ABS module had gotten corroded. So I unplugged the module and cleaned it out with spray electrical cleaner until the green corossion was gone. Then I applied dielectrical grease (which you can get at any auto parts store) to the connector before snapping it back together. So check that, because being under the hood, water can intrude on that connector and mess things up. Let’s hope it’s that and not a bad expensive ABS module.

1999 Geo Prizm Transmission Replacement $2500

William’s question:

My 99 Geo Prism has lost power, and it sounds like a coffee grinder under the hood. This came out of the blue, it was running fine and then all of a sudden it just started hesitating and making a horrid sound. I’ve been told the transmission has gone out and was quoted over 2500 dollars to fix it. HELP


Well, the weakest part of those Prisms are their automatic transmissions. It’s the same one used in the Toyota Corollas of the same age. They just last so long, then they often break down. Now to correctly rebuild the transmission is an expensive endeavor. BUT, there are places that sell quality used units from Japan (like a company called Unitex.) They are low mileage units imported from Japan. I’ve had great luck installing them myself. And they cost over a thousand dollars less than having them rebuilt correctly

Honda CB750 No Start After Sitting 2 Years

Bing’s question:

My old 750 Honda has been sitting for a couple years in the back of the garage. I put in a new battery, and it cranks but won’t start.


That’s pretty typical. The gasoline in the tank and the carbs gets all gunked up and clogs everything up. You will have to remove all four carburetors and take them apart. Then soak them for a day or so in one of those cleaning buckets with solvent that you can get at any good auto parts store. The gunk is so strong you can’t attempt to fix them any other way. Then remove all the jets inside and blow them clean with compressed air. If you don’t feel up to doing this, pull the carbs and take them to a good used motorcycle shop. They can do it for you, and most charge 150 bucks or so IF you bring the carbs in.

Ford Focus 2002 No Power On Acceleration

Andie’s question:

My 2002 Focus bogs down at times when I’m going fast. No one can seem to figure out what’s wrong. It just runs fine, then I can’t go over sixty miles an hour. No trouble codes are stored at all.


Of course there are many things that can do that, but most will trip a trouble code and turn the check engine light on. It’s generally fuel problems that won’t trip a code, as the engine computer doesn’t have a sensor for the fuel pressure. SO, first, change out the fuel filter, it could be that simple. If that doesn’t do it, then have the fuel pump tested for correct pressure and volume. If either is low, replace the pump. Good Luck,