Q: My son, in Southern New Hampshire, is having trouble with his car. I told him I would ask Larry — and get the right answer. He has a 2002 Subaru Forester with 186,000 miles. Recently, he was driving on Route 95 when the car started vibrating, shaking and rumbling loudly. This was coming from the area under the driver and front passenger seats, as if it was “the axis,” he said. He managed to drive it home and is taking it to his local garage. In the meantime, do you have any thoughts on this?
A: I sure do. First of all, I think you are talking about an axle. Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars and some small trucks use constant velocity axles in the front drive system. This allows the driver to turn the wheels left or right while driving and smoothly accelerate without losing power to the wheels. Axles today are so much less money than just a few years ago. Your son can expect to spend around $130 for the part and around $100 in labor.
Q: I just failed a state inspection for my 2001 Ford Crown Victoria. The car failed because the emergency brake would not go down and hold the car in place. This same problem happened just a few years ago also. At that time, I had to replace both of my emergency brake cables. I really don’t want to go through this expense again. Can the existing cables be fixed? How can we prevent this from happening again?
A: Emergency brake problems are usually caused by lack of use. Because the cable has not been used since your last inspection, the cable froze up inside of the casing. If you have a regular repair facility, you may want to ask them to put the car up on the lift and spray a rust-breaking penetrant anyplace the cable goes into the casing. Then work the cable back and forth a few times, and see if it frees up. If that does not work, then you will have to replace the cables. When you do replace the cables, be sure to put a dab of axle grease everywhere the cable goes into the casing. This will keep water out. Also make sure you use the emergency brake a few times a month to keep it from seizing up again. By the way, cables for that car are available in the aftermarket for around half the price of the Ford dealer.