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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 🙂


  • MrG's says:

    Driving to work today my 2008 Subaru Impressa my RPM went up and my speed went down and there was a funny smell like it was burning oil, I then pulled off the highway and had no drive gears or reverse any idea’s?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      AT or MT transmission? Vehicle mileage? If it’s a MT transmission then probably failed clutch. If AT transmission check the fluid level first if full then need to take to transmission shop, check for codes or remove pan and check for excessive metal, friction material and plugged filter.

  • Len says:

    Re; 1998 toyota 4Runner 3.4L V6
    I cannot for the life of me remove the tensioner bolts in order to replace it with a new one. I think I nearly rounded one bolt. The other bolt started turning, but I’m wondering if i broke it. I already compressed the pin while installed, but still cannot get the belt on, so my intent was to remove the tensioner to make it easier to do so. Any ideas?

  • Tom says:

    I have a gm suburban that has P102 code. Mass air flow low voltage. My gas guage works when i clear code but about 30 seconds later the code comes back and the gas guage goes dead and gas guage light comes on.. What may cause this

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      You’ll need to obtain a wiring diagram for those circuits. Sounds like you may have a volt reference or ground problem that’s on the same circuit. Studying the wiring diagram will give you better understanding of how it works and if there’s a possibility of these symptoms being related or not.

  • Peter says:

    Can you explain the comment about damage to a catalytic converter more fully?

    ” The problem with this is the oil will contaminate your ignition wires and spark plugs and cause cylinder misfires. Subaru misfires are not a good thing as those catalytic converters are very expensive. If you don’t know why I referred to the catalytic converters, this is because cylinder misfires are the number one cause of pre-mature catalytic converter failure.”

    After taking a 200 mile drive my car suddenly would not run. It was towed to a Midas shop and they “re-programmed” the engine. After that the car would run rough especially in first and second gear and it will not go over 55 MPH regardless of the throttle pedal position.

    The car has valve cover oil leaks that are evident in the spark plug tubes. I have had the gaskets replaced two years ago to the cost of $1100. It seems that I need to have this done again but does this begin to explain the problem of driveability?

  • Alfred Stevens says:

    My brothers car is a 1999 Subaru outback wagon. I did the head gasket job 5 years ago, and we have no cooling problems. What we do have is this. Driving along , car will start loosing power. We pull off the road and restart and its fine rest of the drive. Later in day when he starts home from work , same thing. Once restarted , no problem. Left it at Subaru dealer three days, and of course it did not exhibit problem. they did not pull any codes. They probably did not drive it far enough.I have change fuel filter twice with Subaru filters. If he lets car warm to normal operating temp, it seems to not do it as much. Otherwise car runs fine, good power, no misfire , no cooling prob and etc.Car has about 190,000 mi. It is an automatic.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      When the vehicle is loosing power does it misfire causing loose of power or does it just bog down? You could try connecting fuel pressure gauge, monitor fuel pressure while problem occurs. I would run it under hood and tape it to the windshield.

  • Brandon Blackwell says:

    I have an 89 Honda civic wagovan automatic and I have been given different advice on what to do and what’s wrong like change the filter or rebuild the whole thing or dont do anything to the fluid because the gunk in there is keeping it alive but anyways, I can’t start off in D4 or D3 I have to go directly to D2 or the car won’t budge and it won’t go into the other gears until I hit 15mph could someone help I’m so confused on what to do and I don’t want to spend a lot at a mechanic I have a friend whom works on cars but he can’t figure it out because he never messed with transmissions.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      The governer is probably hanging up not allowing it to shift into the correct gear. Could be valve body related problem also but either way the transmission will need removed for any repairs. Transmission fluid exchange will not help at this point.

  • eli says:

    I have a 2004 Forester XS. The automatic transmission started slipping for one day. Next a.m. it was not driveable, fluid was low and looked burnt, no leak detected. Put fluid in, and kept slipping but driveable. Attempted to drive back home, and an alternator bearing gave out! Put on car dolly after detaching rear drive shaft. Got home, put new alternator, drained transmission fluid and replaced filter, and of course reconnected drive shaft. Now it will start, can shift to all gears, but will not engage. What happened? No fluid pressure? Is this electronic, related to the solenoid? Is the transmission done, or is there a possible easy fix?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      If there is no forward engagement then the transmission has probably failed (loose of main line pressure). Can start by checking for line pressure with oil pressure gauge but most likely will need removed for any repair.

  • Daniel Mallari says:

    Hello Martin,

    I’m a diy and I own a 2004 Subaru Forester 2.5L turbo with a DOHC engine. I am the original owner and have put 95K miles on it. This weekend I decided to replace my timing belt and fyi, this is my first timing belt job ever. I wish to acknowledge and a give you a thumbs with your Timing Belt Replacement Tips and Advice. Your tips and advice was a big help. One tip was in removing the crankshaft pulley. Anyways my issue or non-issue is with regards to the LH (drivers side) cams. After I removed everything fan, coolant, accessory belts, timing covers, etc. and up the removal of the old timing belt. In removing the old timing belt I removed the bottom idler pulley and as I removed the belt the cams on the drivers spun. Prior to doing more research I didn’t know that those cams are spring loaded?? and only became beware of it after doing a bit more homework and research, Anyways prior to doing research I attempted and was able to rotate the bottom cam by hand a 1/4 turn in the clockwise. I didn’t attempt to turn it any further and instead went and did some HW and research. In my HW and research I read that the bottom cam should only be rotated in the CCW direction and the top cam only in the CW direction. So my question is by rotating the cam CW by hand by a 1/4 turn did I do any serious damage to the valves?

    I have since installed everything and have set the timing marks. I am worried that I might have damaged the valves and don’t want to damage the heads as well. Is there any manual way of checking that the valves aren’t damaged, such as doing a compression or leak test as I turn the crank pulley by hand?

    Another last question I have is in regards to one of your tips. And that is “Tightening the front crank bolt with breaker bar and channel locks.” Won’t the use of channel locks damage the guides on the crankshaft pulley? If not, why not use this method as well in loosening the crank bolt?

    Thanks in advance for your tips and advice.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      The 2.5L Turbo engines can have valve interference between intake and exhaust valves. You have to be careful when removing the belt. Just install the belt and start it up before you completely re-assemble the engine. Always rotate the engine two full revolutions by hand before attempting to start. The engine will have a misfire if you bent or damaged a valve. As far as the crank pulley goes you can use it to remove the pulley also. There is a ridge in the center you can bite the channel locks on and use a rag also. You have to be careful and have a real good pair of channel locks that are large enough otherwise you will damage the pulley (it cannot slip). The crankshaft pulley holder tool is pretty inexpensive if your worried about damaging the crankshaft pulley. Good Luck!

      • Daniel Mallari says:

        Thanks for the response. Yeah, I didn’t want to risk damaging the pulley, so I went ahead and just purchased an inexpensive tool. The tool really made things much easier. The car is back together now and so far it runs great.

  • Mark says:

    I just purchased a 2009 Subaru forester XT automatic

    Transmission Will not go in to any Gear D or R or even Neutral.
    When I put it in drive initially when cold I can hear some noises like pump or something but it goes away after 3-4 seconds.
    Same goes for reverse.
    Transmission fluid is dark brown color and I can tell it is above proper level ( some one overfilled it )
    Now what really puzzles me is it will not go in to neutral.
    We had a really hard time removing it from a trailer ( it was loaded with fork lift on to the trailer) once the car was off the trailer we finally figured
    It Only Moves forward in neutral or park that is it….
    What can I do here to test it to see if it is Worth rebuilding and what has happened to it?
    Thank You

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Sounds to me like the pump is not working. I have seen the converter hubs break causing this. I would bet you’ll find something simple if you remove teardown and inspect but you just never know. Good luck.

  • Pinecastle says:

    I’m considering buying a 2011 Outback 2.5i Limited from a local dealer up here in Seattle. In researching the car online I’ve discovered several problems including oil leaks, oil consumption, and steering vibration issues which seem pretty widespread. I’ve been on several blogs as well as the NHTSA site which all mention these issues. The car I’m looking at has approx. 72000 miles. I like your opinion on several concerns: (1) whether this model is still a reliable vehicle, (2) if the numerous recalls have addressed these issues, (3) are there any other known issues I need to be aware of, and (4) with this many miles what should I budget for upcoming repairs as the mileage approaches 100K?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Yes, it can still be a good reliable vehicle. They are common for headgasket failure, anything else is pretty normal for all vehicle makes. I highly recommend you have a technician do a pre-purchase inspection before purchasing the vehicle.

  • trey says:

    i have a 94 ford escort 1.9 liter automatic. cant find a soul that knows about these. been told they have issues with the fan control module. it only has one radiator fan and it was on all the time the car was running with the heater on. when blower is off the car would overheat, so i just left it on. just had the air recharged and now the fan wont come on and the ac clutch wont kick in. replaced relays and fuse. still nothing. unhooked high pressure switch, and even unhooked battery hoping things might reset. i know the fan is suppost to always run when the air switch in on. after the recharge it doesnt. the so called professionals couldnt help me. thinking about getting rid of the car. too bad, i really love it.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      It shouldn’t be that hard to fix. You need to obtain a wiring diagram of the cooling fan and AC/Heater circuits. After studying the wiring diagram you should be able to understand how the system works. Check for melted connectors at the fan and make some jumper wires so you can do your testing. Power the fan to make sure it works and check your power/ground to fan and relay control and power sides should be checked also.

  • Charlie says:

    I have a 2004 Ford Explorer. Recently, it has begun to just slip slightly when gear changing. I know it has NOT had any type of transmission flush in years. Some days it runs exceptional, even on road trips, and others, just skips a little here and there. Might a flush be a decent idea at this point, as I have just replaced a whole front end differential and really don’t want to spend another bunch of cash on a transmission at this point.
    Again, some days?..Smooth as silk….days like this morning??…it runs..and goes,… if you baby it…..But step on it to pass someone, and it bucks…

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Not sure the mileage of the vehicle but those transmissions are common to have valve body control problems. Also issues with the belts and/or servo to apply the belt. You may be able to fix it without removing the transmission. Find your exact transmission model and look up Sonnax. They have a lot of valve body repairs and upgrades available.

  • Justin says:


    There is a lot of different information on my car and i was wondering what you think. I just purchased a 2001 Audi allroad, 2.7 liter engine mated to an automatic transmission. It is a quattro model. There is a lot, and i mean a lot, of conflicting information on these trannys. It has 130k miles on it but there is no CEL. In reverse sometimes it is fine, sometimes it revs to 4000 RPMS and hard shifts in reverse. Also while driving there is a slight hard shift at times and acts like it isnt in first gear at times and takes a quarter second to catch. I was thinking of flushing the tranny and hopefully improve it but I dont know if that would help. Any advice is more than appreciated.


    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      A transmission flush will not help at this point. These transmission are very technical and a lot of transmission shops won’t even rebuild them. I only replace them if they’re purchased from Audi/VW dealer. Being a 2001 it may be old enough to find someone that will rebuild it. These transmission have valve body issues and they’re hard to repair. The solenoids are dynamically tuned to the valve body at the factory so basically you have to buy the valve body as a complete unit and they are not cheap.

  • Keeley says:

    I have a 98 ford escort zx2 with 168,000 miles on it. I don’t believe it’s ever been flushed and the transmission oil is burnt, black, and has particles in it. I’ve researched this issue online and I’ve made the conclusion that the transmission is going to die. Should I even consider doing a transmission flush or just change the filter?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      If you do anything start with removing the pan and changing the filter (if applicable). If you can remove the pan you can get a good idea as to whats going on by inspecting the material in the pan. If there is excessive brass, aluminum or steel then suspect some type of hard part damage, if it’s clutch material then clutches are worn if no metal at all then suspect a control problem with the valvebody.

  • Wayne B. says:

    My 2013 Altima a/c has stopped working as well as it use to. Nissan said replace the compressor after doing a check of the pressure lines- an a/c shop did electrical test and said the compressor was not receiving a signal to run at 100% only 50% ( thus cool but not cold). ? Is that analysis a real possibility? ( the electrical would be warranty, not the compressor) Thanks

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      I don’t know what he meant by ac running at 50% because the compressor is either off or on. I have never heard of a pulse width modulated ac clutch but you never know. If anybody else has more information on this that would be great. I’m always learning things myself everyday still.

  • Alice says:

    I have a 2001 vw jetta gls 2.0 is it an interference engine?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Yes, Interference Engine

      • Alice says:

        My timing belt slipped off while the car was idiloling, what do you think the chances are that I bent the head? I’m trying to sell it as is. The car will not start being it’s out of time.

        • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

          Really depends on what type of vehicle, if the engine is an interference engine or not. There’s a good chance it’s okay if it was just at an idle when it happened. You’ll have to install a new timing belt to find out. Just install the belt correctly and start engine see if it’s okay before putting back together.

  • Andrew M says:

    I have a 96 Subaru legacy L W/5mt that has recently developed a rattle in the transmission when accelerating in 2nd gear only. No noise when downshifting.
    Is this one of those “Take it apart and see what’s broke” problems ? or might you have ther insight ?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Yes, you’ll have to take it apart to see what’s broken. From what your explaining it’s probably just a noisy bearing in the transmission.

      • Anonymous says:

        Was what I was hoping since these are the only bearings I have not replaced. Center diff, rear carrier and all wheel bearings. Nothing left to it but to do it. I will not be beaten by this car lol.
        Thanks again

  • Dan Delong says:

    2002 Subaru Legacy Wagon (5-speed) – rapid fire noise (almost like a machine gun), only when taking of in 1st. gear – somewhat worse when hot, an getting worse in general. I can feel it through the seat and armrest. Your other comments lead me to believe the viscous coupling is the source. Big bucks?

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      The repair is usually close to $1000.00 or more depending on what all is needed but can be less. For every viscous coupler job the pricing is different. AT and MT transmission makes a huge difference in price also. MT transmission viscous coupler is way more expensive of a repair.

      • Dan Delong says:

        My mechanic found a used transmission for $750, but it was defective. He learned about an additive used in Ford transmissions. The machine-gun-like slippage has stopped – been driving it for two weeks now.

  • Justin says:

    Hello there, I was wondering if you could help me? I have a 97 Subaru Legacy outback automatic with 2.5L. I read on your site that the duty c solenoid might be the route of my problem. When turning I am feeling binding, I hear the back wheels kind of skip as I’m turning. When turning and I’m let’s say I’m backing up into a spot and I shift from drive to reverse there is a jolt that happens. I’ve read all over online and it all leads to it saying that my duty c is bad. My at oil temp light also blinks 16 times upon start up. I just did the trans filter and added fresh fluid. Next i will do the duty c. I hope this fixes my issue. I also was curious about how to retrieve the transmission codes. I have a scanner, but I don’t know much about it, do I need a special scanner for transmission codes? I have the OBD 2 plug.

    Thanks for your time, Justin.

  • Storm66 says:

    I have a 2011 Outback with a CVT. I replaced the torque convertor because of the stalling problem when you stop. That fixed it and CVT seemed fine and drove well. The next day I drove it a bit and all of a sudden when I took off from a stop it moved then quit pulling and lights started flashing like a Christmas tree. It wont move in D or R and makes a slight whining noise as well. Any ideas? Thanks.

    • Martin Hand Martin Hand says:

      Need to start by checking the codes first. Sounds to me like the belt is not engaging correctly or possibly a problem with the torque converter you just replaced.

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