Q.  I have a 2000 Toyota Camry and can’t get the wiper fluid to squirt. I have checked the pump and even tried a new one. The new pump I put in was not a Toyota product but the installation looked simple enough. The hoses and switch all work and the pump makes noise. Why can I get the washers to squirt?

A.   This is a simple system, a switched circuit, pump and hoses. I would start by making sure the hoses and nozzles are clear. Then test the pump, not that it just makes noise, but has the ability to pull fluid from the reservoir and push it to the washer nozzles. You may find you hooked up the pump backwards, this is easily done.

Q. On my way to New York over President’s Day the engine warning light came on my 2009 Toyota Camry. The car lost power until I pushed the gas pedal down to the floor to resume normal speed. Just as a chance, I took off the gas cap and it ran fine but the warning light stayed on for about 20 miles. When I got home I bought a new gas cap, but the problem happened again. My local garage said they couldn’t diagnosis it on their computer unless light was on. The dealer is about 10 miles away, but I’m afraid to go any distance with the car. Do you have any suggestions other than to get the car towed when the light is on?

A.  It sounds as if the gas tank is developing excess vacuum and causing a fuel stoppage. This is usually related to the evaporative emissions system. Have the technician check the evaporative solenoids and vacuum switching valve with a bidirectional scan tool. A simple code reader doesn’t have the ability to activate the various solenoids to see if they are operating properly.

Q.  My BMW 328 has developed this squeaky noise when I apply the brakes before a stop. The dealer tells me, after close inspection of my car, there is nothing wrong with my brake pads. So if the brake pads still have some life to them, what could be producing the high pitched squeaky noise?

A. Brakes squeak due to vibration and movement of the brake pads. In addition, as brake pads start to wear, they will tend to develop hard spots that often cause squeaking. The only cure for the noise may be replacing the brake pads and in most cases the brake rotors.

Q.  I’m considering a used small station wagon but would like something a little sporty. I’m a sailor and I’m always bringing stuff to my boat in the summer. I recently found a 2013 Acura TSX wagon on Craigslist, what do you think of these cars?

A.  I drove the Acura TSX wagon when it first came out and found the handling to be quite good, the interior first rate and the performance from the 2.4 liter engine is okay while returning decent economy. The other thing I like about the TSX wagon is you don’t see many on the road making the car a bit unique.

Q.  I have a two year old Buick and whenever I use the car’s wipers, I see a filmy, soapy film on the windshield that are impossible to get rid with conventional window cleaner. From the outside the windshield looks dry even when it is wet. The only thing I can think of is a polish/wax from a carwash or maybe tree sap. Do you have any suggestions for cleaning this hard to remove stuff off my windshield?

A.  The first thing I would do I completely wash out the windshield washer system with clean water. It is possible someone added some kind of soap to the windshield washer. Then completely clean the windshield of any possible wax buildup. I have had good luck by putting a little alcohol on a cloth to remove any waxy buildup. A reader also suggested using glass stovetop cleaner on the windshield to remove built up grime. I then usually finish cleaning the windshield with a quality window cleaner such as Sprayway or Invisible Glass and polish the window with a microfiber cloth.


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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