How to winterize?, windshield seal replacement, malfunctioning horn, oil pressure warning, e-brake issues, heater core repair cost

Q. I recently moved here from Orlando for a great job. In Florida, we really didn’t do much to our cars as the seasons changed. Now that I’m here, how to get my car ready for winter?

A. The three most important items to get through winter are a strong battery, good tires-perhaps even dedicated winter tires and keeping up with vital fluids. A battery becomes damaged during summer heat but works hardest during the winter cold. Tires provide traction to both get you moving and stopping. Dedicated winter tires will provide the best traction in winter weather conditions. Fluids such as oil, engine coolant as well as power steering, transmission and even windshield washer fluid all need to be in good shape and be adapted to winter cold. You should also keep an ice scraper, long-handled snow brush, extra warm clothes, small shovel and even some non-clumping kitty litter for extra traction if you get stuck on ice.

Q. Where can I get the seal around my windshield replaced? It is coming apart in pieces. In addition to being ugly I’m afraid the windshield will start to leak.

A. Depending on the vehicle design, the windshield may need to come out to replace the seal. It may also be just the windshield molding, which will take a lot less time. The molding, in many cases, doesn’t require removal of the windshield.   My suggestion would be to go to a glass shop, they deal with this type of thing all the time.

Q. My car is 11 years old and now the horn begins blowing at odd times as if I have hit the panic button on the key fob. Is there some type of battery inside the car that could be losing charge to cause this or is it simply because my key fobs are so old their batteries are dying?

A. The key-fob batteries even if they are failing wouldn’t set off the panic alarm. There could be an issue with the courtesy light switches turning on the dome light. The other issue could be that the airbag cover is shrinking and actuating the horn. At this point, the only way you are going to find the issue is to be there while the horn is blaring. In the interim you might want to learn how to disconnect the horn, so you don’t disturb your neighbors.

Q. I was driving recently, and I got a message on the dash that warned: “oil pressure is low”. I don’t drive the car much and the last time I started it, there was no light. Is it a fluke or is something wrong? 

A. The engine oil pump delivers oil to critical parts of the engine. Low oil pressure could be the result of a faulty oil pump, worn engine bearings, and even a faulty oil pressure switch. At a minimum, check the engine oil, if it is very low the oil pressure will be low. If the oil level is full, then have a technician check the oil pressure with a mechanical gauge. If the oil pressure is okay, then the oil pressure sender is faulty. If the oil pressure reads low, then some additional exploration will be required.

Q. I can’t start my Honda CR-V.  I had a message that there is an electric brake system problem. The CR-V only gets driven on weekends, what does the electric brake message and the car not starting have to do with each other. I will be calling AAA to have the car towed to the Honda dealer.

A. The power brake booster on your Honda uses an electric pump, rather than engine vacuum. I have found that this warning comes up when the engine battery has become discharged. At this point check all of the electrical connections as well as battery condition. I have also seen that some Honda CR-V models will end up with battery discharged when the vehicle sits idle for more than a week due to parasitic drain.

Q. I have a 2000 Ford Taurus in good condition however; it needs a heater core. I heard this is a huge job. How much would it cost?

A. It is a big job, taking about seven hours of labor. At an average labor rate of $90-$120 per hour, the labor alone would be $630 to $840 then add in the heater core and other materials. The Ford factory heater core is $170, you could use an aftermarket heater core which runs about half the factory part price.

 

John Paul is AAA’s Car Doctor. He is an automotive expert who has been writing and talking about cars for more than 30 years. He also hosts the Car Doctor radio program on WROL radio in Boston. Email John at jpaul [at] aaanortheast.com.

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