SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 14, 2013

Leaking shocks make him suspicious

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I have an ’08 Mercury Mariner, four-wheel-drive, with 11,000 miles on it. I went for an inspection sticker and was told that the rear shocks are gone and leaking to the tune of $300 to replace them. Does this sound right? I was bowled over by the news.

A: You are right to question this. If the vehicle was in an accident and the strut was damaged, it is possible that it is leaking. This is highly unusual for normal driving, however. The price sounds about right. I think it would be in your best interest to get a second opinion concerning the shock failure. About 20 years ago, I had three cars come in during the same week asking for an estimate to replace the oil pan. I found this rather curious. After I looked at each one of the vehicles, I determined they all had one thing in common: the oil that was across the oil pan was brand-new oil. My suspicions were, of course, aroused. On each one I simply cleaned off the oil and ran it on the lift to find they were not leaking at all. The other common denominator was as follows: each and every one of these car owners was a senior citizen, and each and every one had received a coupon for a free oil change at a business that will remain unnamed. The business was manufacturing problems to enhance their shop productivity. Be sure to go to a shop you trust.

Q: I own a 2011 Ford Escape, which I purchased new. I have enjoyed this car with one exception — the brakes. In particular, the right rear brake usually makes a squeaking, scraping, pulsating noise when applied. The dealer has looked at it a few times and one of their mechanics has personally heard the noise, but they cannot solve the problem. On one occasion, they cleaned the shoes, but the noise came back. On another occasion, they resurfaced the drum, but the noise returned. It does not always do it, and sometimes it is relatively quiet. Other times it is so profound that people on sidewalks stop and look to see what it is. I do not think that it creates a danger, but I did not buy a new car to entertain the sidewalk people. I would appreciate any suggestions that you might have.

A: I did a check on tech service bulletins to find that Ford has not addressed this problem yet. However, at this point in time, while the vehicle is still covered by the warranty, I would suggest you request to have a Ford factory representative get involved. Further, if you feel this problem affects the braking system of your car, and it takes longer to stop the car, you should report this to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sometimes action as previously stated gets a little fire going under the dealership to act on your problem.

Car care tip: Shocks and struts should be looked at for structural weakness as well as hydraulic leaks.

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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.