1999 Pontiac Grand Am
Jack’s Question: When I take my 99 Grand Am out of park and put it in reverse my left turn signal indicator on the dash stays lit. Turn signal works fine when not braking. It just seems to have something to do with when I put the car in reverse because when I start the car and apply the brake to take it out of park the turn signal doesn’t stay lit on the dash, just when I put it in reverse. Is there some kind of sensor in the brake peddle or in the gear shift that can go bad?? I just don’t know where to begin?
Answer: You’re getting electronic feedback somewhere in the car. When you put the car in reverse, the reverse lights get electricity. Somehow this electricity is feeding back into the turn signal system, lighting up the turn signal indicator on the dash.
Have the electrical circuits checked in the trunk on the left side. You might have a bad circuit board on that side. And believe it or not, I’ve seen people have the wrong bulb installed back there, and it will cause short circuits and make other lights come on.
So make sure you have the original equipment correct bulbs back there (check the right side to make sure both sides have the same exact bulbs in them.) Hopefully one of these procedures will fix it, because your Pontiac also has a small computer on board, called the general electrical module (GEM) and they can go bad. Unless you’re an electrical mechanic, you won’t be able to check this GEM and they are pretty expensive to just guess with.
A bad GEM can also cause one electrical system to operate another one when its circuit boards short out internally. Good Luck.
Richard’s Question: I was servicing my 2004 Dodge Neon, and noticed that the power steering fluid color was getting pretty dark. It used to be pretty light colored. Should I be worried about this?
Dodge Neon 2004
Answer: Well, it’s really a good idea to have your power steering fluid flushed out and changed every three or four years just to keep debris out of it. Considering the high cost of replacing a power steering pump or a clogged steering rack, this is good preventative maintenance. So I’d change the fluid out if you haven’t done that yet. BUT, don’t rely on the color of the fluid in that Neon. The fluid that Dodge uses in them just naturally turns darker over time. Dodge has put out a bulletin telling how this dark color itself doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
Gretta’s question My 1999 Tahoe keeps setting the ABS warning light. It’s been snowing a lot, and I want the brakes to be working right. What could be causing this?
Chevy Tahoe 1999
Answer: Yes, the ABS braking system is a fail safe system, so that if the ABS portion breaks down it just reverts to normal brakes. BUT, you won’t have anti lock capability when that light comes on. Now they are rather complex computer driven systems, but since you mention you’re in a snow area, that can often be the cause of ABS malfunctions in that Tahoe. The salt and slush can cause corrosion in the ABS wheel sensors. GM even put out a bulletin about this a few years back. So have the wheel sensors removed, the assembly cleaned of debris, and see if that fixes your problem. You may need further work, like replacing bad sensors or broken wiring, BUT start with the simple process of just cleaning the sensors and their mountings off. Because that often fixes ABS problems in those Tahoes.
Rafael’s Question: I just put rear brake shoes on my 2002 Focus, and now they squeak a lot. What did I do wrong?
Ford Focus 2002
Answer: Well, first, make sure you used good brake shoes. Don’t just go to any discount auto store and buy the lowest price shoes available. They will often make noise. AND, when you installed the shoes, make sure you put some silicone brake lubricant grease on all the inside contact points of the brake shoes BEFORE you put the shoes back on. If you don’t do this, then the metal on the brake shoe backing will rub against the metal on the hub plate and make a lot of squeaking– especially when you stop quickly (the faster you stop, the more the shoes vibrate, the louder the noise.) So, it may be as simple as you not putting lubrication on the inside of the brake shoes.
Dave’s Question: The AC on my 99 Camry went out. Not that I care about the AC in this freezing cold weather, but the windows now fog up all the time. The AC light flashes on and off, and when I hot wire the AC compressor, it will work then. So something’s gone electronically. What can I check next, all the fuses and relays are working?
Toyota Camri 1999
Answer: Yes, you’ve got an electrical short somewhere, since hot wiring the compressor makes the system work. Behind the glove box there’s a small computer called the AC amplifier. If they go bad, you’ll have no power going to the compressor. Check to see if power is going into the amplifier, but not coming out when you turn the AC button on. If this is the case, replace the amplifier. If no power is going into the amplifier, then check the switch itself for power in and power out. Somewhere you will be losing power, and that will be the culprit. Good Luck,
Lance’s Question: The check engine light on my 05 Crown Vic keeps coming on. The codes are P0316 and P0606. The car runs perfect otherwise, and a mechanic said he can’t find anything wrong. Why does the light keep coming on then?
Answer: Well, in your case, it’s a software glitch in the computer programming. Ford knows about it, and if you go to a dealer, they will reprogram the computer for free. The parameters in the computer software are wrong, so they trip those trouble codes when there really is nothing wrong. Once you get the computer reprogrammed, the light will go away.
How to seal rusty gas tank
If your car seems to loose fuel and you can’t keep it up filling at gas station maybe the fuel tank is leaking through tiny hole. My car (BMW E38) consumes a lot of fuel (about 13MPG) so small leak would be difficult to notice, but if your trip computer and actual consumption, which you can do dividing miles driven by total fuel consumed, tells the story.
Signs that your car might be losing fuel without burning it in the engine:
- You can usually smell gasoline when approaching car first thing in the morning. If the hole in the tank is small enough, you cannot always see visible clues.
- Look underneath for unusual clear or shiny spots. Gasoline is a perfect solvent and can be used as a cleaner. When it seeps through the hole in the tank it most likely will wash away any dirt and oil. Wet gasoline stain can travel further down the tank bottom to the lowest point. If it doesn’t evaporate until this point, fuel drops will collect on the ground.
Fuel Tank Sealer
There are special products for repairing small leaks on the tank. Usually it is a 2 part plastic compound sealer which you have to mix and apply on the rusty hole before it hardens and seals it.
Steps to patch your rusty tank:
- Locate the spot and evaluate hole size. What might seem like a little weeping hole at first could become large falling part when you remove dirt, paint and rust from this spot. Rust on the car is like cancer, you can’t see the whole picture until you investigate. If you find the hole is quite big and you can even stick a finger or 2 in it maybe you should consider replacing whole tank instead of trying to repair it. Driving with this condition could be dangerous.
- If the spot is reasonable or you are tight on the budget continue with cleaning the area with a wire brush or coarse sand paper. You can also apply brake cleaner and wipe with paper towel. Clean until all rusty parts will fall off and you are left with a semi clean area. It doesn’t have to be perfectly shiny but the smoother it will be the easier to patch.
- Read the instructions on the package on how to prepare the patch. Usually you have to take 2 equal parts of the material and mix it by hand until color will become uniform. Make a pancake in your hand and apply this to the hole. At first, it might be lose and seem like falling off, but tap it with your fingers until it begins to stick better. You can make the patch fatter on the hole area and even push it in a bit in the tank to get a stronger seal.
- Wait at least 10-20 minutes before driving the car to not disturb the hardening phase. The patch might feel hot to the touch. This is because chemical reactions are taking place and new bonds with the metal are created during curing phase. After a while, the patch changes color and might blend with the rest of the tank color, so no one could even notice without close inspection.
- Periodically check the patch area every few days to make sure you don’t have any further leaks.
Fuel can disappear not only from the tank with a hole in it but also from lose fuel hoses in the engine bay. It took me a while to notice this on my car during winter season. When I first started the car in the cold morning I could smell gasoline for the first few minutes, but after stopping and checking under hood, nothing was apparent. Only later I managed to catch the area where fuel was leaking. It was near the fuel injector on fuel rail return hose connection. The hose clamp was loose from the previous fix where I changed intake manifold gasket. I didn’t tighten hose clamp enough and fuel was able to seep through the tiny opening. When the car warmed up, rubber hose did to and expanded thus making leak harder to find. It was tiny leak and caused some idling issues, but otherwise you couldn’t tell at first. So this example only shows that with cars you have to be creative and curious because not every problem is the same.
If the tank is full or fuel level is higher that the hole you found it is better to siphon fuel out first before patching. This is because leaking fuel can inhibit the compound from proper adhesion and the leak might reappear later on.
There are other ways to repair rusty fuel tanks like welding a patch. But this usually involves taking fuel tank apart and it is not very DIY if you haven’t got MIG welder at home or garage.
If your car is running on LPG and you want to save even more money you can run on propane from cylinder propane tanks sold for domestic use (heating, food cooking). In this article I will explain how to transfer LPG from cylinder tank to car LPG tank.
LPG or liquid propane gas is a mixture of propane and butane. Different proportions are used in countries from as low as 40% propane 60% butane to as high as pure 100% propane.
Why propane is better fuel than butane?
Firstly, propane boiling point is much lower than butane. Propane boils at -43.6°F (-42°C) while butane boils at 30.2°F (-1°C). Why it matters? In cold weather you need steady supply of gas to your engine or else it will stall. If you have open loop system LPG could actually backfire breaking your intake manifold or air filter box. Running on butane your LPG reducer can freeze instantly and cut the supply of gas. Some northern countries change the LPG proportion in the winter to help drivers avoid such problems. Usually from 40% propane 60% butane it switches to 60% propane 40% butane.
If you consider transferring LPG from domestic cylinder tanks you must know that gas composition is probably worse than what you get at the gas station. Hovewer in theory you can drive on pure butane as long as it is in gas form. But keep in mind that at freezing temperatures you will probably have many problems. If the air outside is for example –20C it would again liquify butane in the intake manifold even if the reducer supply butane in gas form. Continue reading ‘LPG Transfer Pump DIY From Fuel Pump’
Jan’s Question: The speedometer on my 1999 Subaru doesn’t work. My husband tried replacing the sensor on the transmission for the speedometer, but it made absolutely no difference. He thinks the problem is in the dash, but that costs a lot of money. Is there something else he can try?
Answer: Yes, the problem should be in the dash, unless the wiring has been broken somewhere between the dash and the sending unit (so have him check the wiring at both ends, because it’s generally the ends that have problems unless the car has been wrecked.) Now he doesn’t need to replace the whole expensive dash. Subaru does offer the speedometer circuit board. And if he doesn’t feel comfortable replacing that, he could just take the dash to a speedometer repair shop and they can do it for him. It’ll save a lot of money not buying that whole dash.
Alberto’s Question: My 98 Concorde failed the state emissions test last week. It had the code for misfire on cylinder # 5. I changed out the spark plugs, the wires, and even the fuel injector on number five. Still won’t pass the test with the same misfire code. What am I missing?
Answer: Well, you covered the common problems for misfires on one cylinder. But of course, there can be many other causes–like a bad main computer, bad wiring, bad valve springs, or even a crack in the engine head. BUT, I was once bitten by a Concorde with the same problem as yours. I eventually fixed the car by replacing the intake manifold gasket. There was a TINY crack on the intake runner for the number five cylinder. I could only see it when I removed the intake manifold. There was carbon black around the crack where it had been leaking. SO, you might find someone with a smoke machine and see if they can smoke out a leak in the intake system. Since it’s misfiring on number five, pay close attention to the manifold gasket around number five.