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Looking for automotive repair advice?

Well, you can ask your question here. I seem to receive a lot of questions for auto repair and I am only one person so please leave me as much information as possible. Vehicle year, make, model, engine size, automatic or manual transmission, drive train type and anything else you’re aware of. I understand if you don’t have answers to all of these just leave me what you know and your question will get answered more quickly and accurately. I tend to ignore questions like: How do I flush my transmission? I would need more information here, see. Thanks in advance.
Martin Hand

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This way other people can benefit from the question’s and advice. Question’s posted here are answered in the same manner as asking me directly. Neither method is going to be quicker and I would rather you post them unless you don’t want too and that is fine also. I know longer accept direct questions. Contact us directly for appointments only. Remember – please be specific as possible otherwise questions will not be answered.
Thanks Again 🙂


  • Malcolm says:

    I had a 2005 Legacy. The auto transmission shift good in normal driving condition. When driving at rush hour traffic – it jerks at between 30 to 40 mph. Usually the engine at 1500rpm. Do you have any suggestion?



    • Martin Hand says:

      Could be a lot of things, have the vehicle scanned for diagnostic trouble codes. Check all fluid levels and conditions to eliminate any basic problems. I don’t see many Subaru AT transmission problems unless there high mileage and just worn out.

      • Malcolm says:

        Thank you very much for your help. It is the valve cover leaking and Cylinder #1 and #3 misfire. Also a bad spark plug. replaced the cover gasket, spark plugs, clean up the oil and is running fine now. thanks

  • Ram Iyer says:

    Greetings! Wish you happy new year. Thanks for sharing important details of timing belt. I am looking for a guidance and like to pick up your insight on non interference engines.

    1999 Toyota Camry LE 2.2 5S-FE (non interference) engine is designed with enough clearance between pistons and valves to allow the crankshaft to rotate (pistons still moving) while the camshaft stays in one position (Several valves fully open). If this condition happen normally, no internal engine damage will result.
    I know that some of your customers brought in 1999 Toyota Camry LE 2.2 with snapped/broken timing belt.

    Did you find bent valves (piston hitting valve conditions) on such vehicles?

    How did you make sure, that valves were not bent on such vehicles?

    Thanks for your help/guidance.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Unfortunately the first thing you have to do is put a timing belt on the engine. From there you can either try starting the vehicle or perform a cylinder compression test. If you have a cylinder with low compression you will then need to perform a cylinder leak test. A cylinder leak test is just putting air to the cylinder with valves closed and see where the air is leaking to.

      • Ram Iyer says:

        Thanks for looking into my question.

        Did you face bent valves (piston hitting valve conditions) on 5S-FE (non interference) engine, when your customer towed the car to your shop with broken/snapped timing belt?

        Thanks for your insight.

  • John says:

    Last year I bought a 95 legacy swapped with a jdm 04 ej20. Been running fine for this first year but the last time I drove it was having troubles shifting between gears. It takes off fine and goes through the gear all the way but when you go to shift and let off the clutch there’s a shudder bewtween the gears. It’s through all of them so is it my clutch or the gear box? Thanks for any input on my issue.

  • Joshau says:

    I have a 1967 dode warlock with a 318 and a 727 transmission.the truck was sitting in a field for a long time before I bought it. Well I lost reverse so I pulled the oil cooler line on outlet side and some fluid came out I ended up getting it freed up again and all was fine . well I let the truck sit for a year and now it won’t drive unless I put into four wheel drive. Will a transmission flush fix this problem or do I need to get it rebuilt

    • Martin Hand says:

      A transmission flush is for preventative maintenance only and will not fix your problem. Your explaining a drivetrain problem, the transmission is working if it moves in four wheel drive, check the TC and driveline.

  • Nancy says:

    I have a 2003 Subaru Forester, 99000 miles. Huge messy, smelly oil leak so I take it in 5 days ago. Mechanic (whom I trust)) replaced the valve cover gasket (cleaned and replaced spark plugs) and cleaned bottom of car. Told me the leak was not solved, pointed out the other issues and said let’s monitor it, but the top of the engine was now “dry’. Next day I had a dinner-sized plate worth of oil under the car, (never had that before!) so returned this morning. Mechanic had previously told me I also had a leak behind the timing belt cover, and today said that was the cause of the big oil spot under the car. (I have never had to top up the oil between changes.) He is a good guy, and is pushing me to replace the timing belt, tensioner, seals and maybe water pump while he is there. He says I am driving on borrowed time because the timing belt is “wet” and he can’t tell how bad it is unless he opens things up. (and the cleaned bottom of the car had pretty much new oil across the bottom.) I take the estimate and my sticker shock back to work with me and my buddy there calls BS. I don’t want to be foolish, but I also don’t want to dump more money into the 2003 car I plan to sell in 6 months. I can afford the repair, though it is a bit of a squeeze, it is doable. And the car is driving great. Mechanic also said he sees no other major problem looming and he pointed out two minor things that need repair but won’t ruin the car. So: Am I foolish and risking ruining the engine and any value the car has by not making the is timing belt et al repairs? All insights deeply appreciated! Sincerely, Nancy

  • Angel says:

    Hi, I have a 1990 toyota truck 3.0L, a mechanic change a the knock sensor and the sensor appeared now in my computer, a new sensor was bought with a new wore in an aftermarket site, it was install and still code 52 appeared, another mecanic check it and he suggested the ECM, call the dealer now to ask for a sesor and they ask my truck ‘s VIN he mentioned there is an specific sensor to the truck. Was I installing the sensor that it wasn’t supposed to? Any advice would help.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Some engine take a nippon denso sensor and some take this other type (brand name starts with “m” i think). I don’t know what would happen if you used the incorrect sensor, it’s possible it would keep the lite on. Continuity check the knock sensor signal wire, ECM to sensor plug. Replace the short wire and connector at intake manifold also. I would recommend Toyota parts for this if you have to take it back apart.

  • Alice Wright says:

    I have a 2006 Nissan Xterra 140,000 miles.
    V6. It stopped pulling . My son came and put 3 qts of transmission fluid in it and it was fine.
    3 Weeks later it stopped pulling again and he put fluid and I was good to go.
    But I decided to take it to a transmission shop.
    First the guy s as said I had a front seal leak.
    He did something else and said he found.
    water in the fluid plus there were rust in the pan. He said the only solution is to get a refurbished transmission with a radiator.
    What do you think?

    • Martin Hand says:

      I’m not sure unless I actually seen it myself. I can say that if the front seal was leaking, more than likely the pump bushing was worn also. You would have to replace converter and possibly other hard parts. So it probably needed rebuilt anyways.

  • Seth says:

    I have a 2013 GMC Yukon XL. I do limo work in New York City. The manual says to change the transmission fluid at 45000 miles. I haven’t changed it yet and I’m at 86000 miles. The fluid is black. Did I screw up? My mechanic says go to the dealer in case something’s wrong. The dealer charges twice what my mechanics charge and they just drop the pan and do a partial change like my mechanic.

  • HC says:

    Hi ,

    I have a new 1200 cc Turbo Nissan Qashqai.
    It is 6 weeks old now.

    The published fuel economy of this car is 17.9km / l, now i know the actual fuel economy will differ from the acclaim figures.
    My 1st tank register a return of 6km/litre! I am into mine 4th tank now, and averages only 10km/l.
    That’s a far cry off the official figure!

    I have sent in to the local nissan dealer 2 times, and every time they will tell me the ECU (on board computer) reads fine, and they will “refresh” it.

    All is well on the highway, but once in urban, the economy plummet even with the slightest stop and go.
    I notice that when air conditioning kicks in, that’s where I used the most fuel, as much as 40%!
    Another is idling, the fuel economy will drop tremendousy at the slightest idle, e.g during traffic light.

    I’m really at a lost here, and i’m beginning to question the local dealer expertise.

    Appreciate your advice.


    • Martin Hand says:

      The car is new so I doubt there is anything wrong with it. If the dealer says it’s okay then it’s probably okay. The ratings are done with a professional driver that can get the most possible mileage out of the engine. I doubt you will ever get the fuel economy they claimed but if it’s nowhere close then all you can do is complain to the manufacturer.

  • On my 1997 Subaru Outback Limited are the rear struts the same? Can I buy two KYB 335020? I plan on having the suspension on my car done here soon.

  • Bret says:

    I have a 2006 Subaru Outback that’s leaking oil. It’s running down the oil filter. I’ve changed the oil and put a new filter on and it still has a drop on it. Timing belt, headgaskets, and valve seals done at 110,000. It now has 137000 on it.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Sounds to me like the headgaskets are leaking oil externally. Could also be some front engine seal or piston access plugs, hard to say. You will need to clean engine with a de-greaser, run it again and re-check. Maybe pull the front timing cover to inspect.

  • Bobby says:

    I have a 2001 Toyota highlander v6 AWD that works fine at first. but after I have driven in and out of the highest gear once or twice it will no longer go back into the highest gear unless I shut off the engine and then restart it (which only works half the time). so if im in traffic on the freeway I will often get stuck in the gear below the highest and it revs up above 4000 rpm the whole way at 65mph. It also got stuck in 2nd gear a few times. I got the faulty knock sensor code but they didn’t say anything about there being two of them. are there 2? also, is that the probable cause of the not shifting back into the higher gears? A friend was saying to replace the shift solenoids and didn’t think it was related to the knock sensor but then I read your info above.

    • Martin Hand says:

      I believe the coolant temperature will effect transmission overdrive engagement. Make sure the coolant is full, vehicle is reaching normal operating temperature (195° – 210°f) and the temperature sensor is reading correctly. I don’t think the knock sensor would cause this problem (i could be wrong) but the knock sensor problem should be addressed also anyways.

      • Bobby says:

        The coolant is full. The strange thing is that it resets when I shut off the engine and restart. then it goes to 4th gear again a few more times again before getting stuck in 3rd again. Would the temp sensor reset like that and work when the engine is shut off and on like I have been doing?

        • Martin Hand says:

          Yes, you really need a scanner so you can monitor coolant temperature from the ECM. You could also verify if the the OD solenoid (or the related shift solenoids for 4th gear) is being engaged or not.

      • Bobby says:

        I replaced the coolant temperature sensor but it didn’t make a difference. I had another friend tell me that the transmission might have separate codes than the normal OBD2 codes.

        • Martin Hand says:

          Yes that is possible. You will need to check for codes in the ECM and the TCM. A lot of times there will be ECM code telling you there is TCM codes stored/transmission problem, but not always.

  • Mike says:

    I have a 2002 Ford Ranger 2.03L engine, manual transmission. The AC clutch appears to stay engaged at all times, and all settings of the dash knob. Even OFF. And even when the engine is turned off and the key removed it still stays engaged. If I pull the AC clutch fuse, the clutch disengages immediately and will stay disengaged when I start the engine and it acts normally until I actually set the climate knob to AC again. At which point it will engage the clutch again and not disengage until I pull the fuse again. I am starting to suspect a PCM problem, but the deal with it staying engaged with the engine turned off is a little puzzling.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Try hooking a test light inline with the compressor clutch circuit and then cycle it off and on, check the ac clutch relay and relay control circuit to see whats holding the relay on.

      • Mike says:

        Thanks Martin,
        I actually determined it actually was the AC clutch relay sticking. I could tap on the relay with my finger and the AC clutch would activate or deactivate intermittently even with the dash climate control turned off.
        New relay fixed it right up.

  • Debra Nelson says:

    Hyundai 2009 over 120 thousand miles what are pro and cons of changing it??
    Does it need to be done and if so how often?

    • Martin Hand says:

      If the transmission is shifting good and you just want to keep it that way then I recommend to do the flush every 60K. If your wanting to change the fluid because you’ve noticed it not shifting the same as your used to then you should have the pan removed so you can inspect for friction material, metal or what not. The service is for preventative maintenance only, it won’t improve shifting just help maintain good shifts and prevent failure.

  • I have a 96 Legacy Outback 2.5 AT AWD vin#4s3bg6859t7381799 with clunking sound when sharp low speed turns (forward or reverse), I am pretty sure needs repair you show on web(valve assembly & clutch). I think the right valve is #319425AA090, but the clutch assembly is not clear if I will get the right hub and steels. I think the number is 31541AA020??? I live a long way from dealer and will have to have someone else do the work, and no one has direct experience. If I can get all parts needed the first time it will be a lot easier. Any help you can give me would be great. Thanks GW

    • Martin Hand says:

      I do not have exact part numbers so there wouldn’t be much I could do. You will need to dis-assemble transfercase and inspect all the parts before you order anything first. The clutches could be fine, just don’t know. I almost always replace the valve assembly so it would be safe to order that ahead of time.

  • will says:

    have a 05 lancer es..keep getting p0736…have to push gas pedal down far to move…then goes back to normal for a few days..then same code and issue..has 130k miles and trans fluid is dirty.. get it flushed? or drain n fill a few times?

    • Martin Hand says:

      I don’t recommend any type of service at this point. Need to fix the problem (P0736) before doing any type of preventative maintenance. No reason to flush clean fluid through a transmission that may still need repairs.

  • Gary says:

    Hi I have a 2008 Jeep Wrangler my AC compressor cuts in and out when I first starts the jeep but usually stops after 5 or 10 mins.

    AC compressor cuts in and out but my AC is not turn on ( illuminated ) on the dash and in vent mode.

    What would cause the AC to cut in and stop after 5 or 10 mins.

    • Martin Hand says:

      The ac compressor will automatically come on with the ac off, if in the defrost mode. This is to allow for ac re-circulation in case you never use the ac or for example the winter months.

  • dan macmillan says:

    I have a 98 legacy brighton with a stock NA 2.2l
    The problem, on first startup of the day it will crank {turn over} endlessly with absolutely no signs of trying to start. On the second attempt ie turn the key off then retry, {key must be turned to off} it fires instantly and usually continues to run. If it is cold {below 40 deg F} it will sputter a bit and I may have to restart again. I have determined that on the first try I do not have to roll the engine over on the starter, just momentarily bump the starter. Cycling the key repeatedly to prime the fuel system does not help. The starter must be momentarily engaged. There are no engine codes and the CEL illuminates when the key is turned to on as a bulb check. I have done the following. New plugs, new ign coil, new plug wires, new fuel filter, new battery. Scan data shows the coolant temp is showing ambient temp. Fuel pressure is well within specs, inj pulse is present as is spark during the first starting attempt. I do not know if cam signal is present during the first attempt. I have searched and found a few people have similar issues but have never found the cause or the fix. Please help as this is not normal and is driving me nuts.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Hook up a fuel pressure gauge and leave it there overnight. Check it before you go to fire it up, maybe the check valve is bad and the fuel pressure bleeds off. That could be why cycling the key gets it to start. You also need to monitor the spark and fuel injector drive signal while this condition occurs to know for sure whats causing the no start.



  • Phil says:

    I have an 01 Dodge Stratus. This is my second vehicle which I don’t want to spend a lot of money on but will within reason. Also, I’m not much of a do it yourselfer where cars are concerned except for the very basics. It has a transmission leak so I check it regularly and periodically add fluid. Except this last time, I wasn’t paying attention and quickly realized I was adding 5W-30 motor oil instead of trannie fluid. I didn’t add a lot but more than I’m comfortable with. Is a transmission flush recommended, imperative, or what? Thanks.

    • Martin Hand says:

      Well as long as you don’t start the vehicle the fluid will be in the pan and not mixed throughout the transmission. Just remove the pan and then re-fill and you should be fine.

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