Q: I have a 2001 Tacoma V6 with automatic transmission. After applying the brakes at road speed, the transmission selector moves forward and appears to have a popping noise from the brake area. This occurs when the truck actually comes to a stop. Ever heard of this? Is there a fix?
We have actually worked on this kind of problem on other Tacomas. The problem is the cross members under the truck are too weak and are flexing.
There is even a chance that you have a broken weld on a cross member. Due to the flexing or floating cross members when you stop, the transmission is moving around.
As it moves, the linkage, which is bolted to the frame of the vehicle, is being pushed, making the gear selector move. The cost of the repair would depend upon the severity of the rot. So now that I told you all these horrible things, let me sweeten this by telling you that there is a recall campaign for this frame rot problem.
See your local Toyota dealer, or call Toyota customer care. If your vehicle falls within the build time frame, the repairs just may be done for free.
Q: My car is a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am with 105,000 miles. When I am driving down the highway, the temperature gauge needle keeps fluctuating from halfway to full hot. I did find the antifreeze level down and added a few quarts of antifreeze. The problem seemed to be resolved until last week when the same thing started again. I checked the antifreeze level, and it was down again. I looked for leaks under the car and didn’t see any. I didn’t see any stains on the driveway either. Once again, I filled the antifreeze bottle, and all is well again. Have you seen this type of problem in the Pontiac before? If so, how much does it cost to fix it?
A: The way you describe your problem, I immediately think you have a head gasket problem. This problem can be expensive, there is no other way of saying it. If there is no coolant in the lower end of the engine, a head gasket replacement job may be all that is needed.
For a head gasket job, you can plan to spend anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800, including the shop labor, as well as parts and machine shop labor. If coolant has gotten into the lower end of the engine, which can be detected by draining out a quart from the crankcase in a clear beaker, then you need to plan on replacing the engine.
A used engine will run around $3,500 installed after you factor in cost of the engine, labor to remove and reinstall, as well as needed parts like belts, spark plugs, sensors and liquids.
If you go with a remanufactured engine, you may be on the hook for close to $5,000. A quality remanufactured engine will come with a 100,000-mile warranty, which will give you peace of mind for the duration of this vehicle.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.