SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 15, 2013

Auto Scanner: Escalade keeps breaking down at 120,000 miles

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: My daughter bought a 2004 Escalade (120,000 miles on it) nine months ago. She only got a 30-day guarantee with it. Her problems started a few months after she bought it. The first time her car quit on her she was told she needed a new throttle body. Two months later her car quit again and she needed a new transmission. One month after the new transmission her car’s engine light read “reduce engine power” and the car quit again. She had the car towed to where she had the transmission installed. The mechanic there had the car for a week and told her something about 11 points he had to check. After the week, he got it going and said all he could find was she needed a new air filter. (She had the oil changed at the dealership after she bought the car). A week after the air filter was changed, the car quit again and it was towed again to the same mechanic. He had the car another week and told her about the 11 points again. He told her he wasn’t sure what the problem was but thought oil was leaking into the engine and if that was not the problem, she should take it to a dealership for them to figure it out. Please help her. What do you think is wrong?

A: Variable cam timing and mass airflow sensor are just a few of the known problems on the Escalade. Variable cam timing depends on oil being present at the sensor with the proper pressure. The Caddy may be sucking oil out of its six-quart system and lowering the quantity to the point that the cam sensors are being starved and shutting the engine down. Other known problems are with the mass airflow sensor, which is located at the front of the air intake tube. When this problem does happen, if it is indeed the mass airflow sensor, technicians have been able to unplug the mass airflow sensor and the vehicle then runs again. If you stick to one good shop and give them the time they need to do the proper diagnostics, you will be able to get rid of the problem and enjoy the Escalade.

Q: I have a 2002 Toyota Camry LE and I have an occasional rub from my steering wheel on turning the wheel. I have no other problems with steering. What do you think the problem is?

A: Two probable causes come to mind. First, a piece of the plastic steering column cover may be loose, causing a plastic rubbing at times. The other common problem I see is the steering column has a joint in it that resembles a universal joint. These tend to bind up occasionally. Either case, if the problem gets worse, it may cause your steering wheel to not return to center coming off of a corner turn. You should have this looked at soon.

Car Care Tip: Lately I see a lot of do-it-yourself air conditioner recharge kits. If you decide to try your own recharge, be aware that overcharging your system could destroy the compressor.

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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 scanauto@aol.com.