Q: I purchased a 2004 Saturn in February 2009. It had 56,000 miles when purchased. Since that time I have added about 17,000 miles to a current total of around 73,000 miles. According to the manual, the timing belt should be replaced at about 100,000 miles. Does that still apply for a car that is 9 years old, or should it be sooner because of the age of the car?
A: Your Saturn gets about 4,000 miles per year. That’s not a lot of mileage at all. Your engine is what is known as an interference engine. Simply put, if the timing belt breaks, it will most likely cause massive engine damage in the form of crushed and bent cylinder valves. This kind of repair will raise your cost of the timing belt to triple or more of what it would be to do the maintenance. So yes, nine years is enough time that I would feel better with you replacing the timing belt. Always have the technician put a sticker on the timing belt cover that tells at what mileage the job was done. Otherwise you may do it again in another five years without realizing it has already been done.
Q: I have a problem with my 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. I purchased it new and it now has 50,000 miles on it. This problem only happens in the extreme hot weather. When I am driving and come to a stop light, the transmission does not seem to download to first gear. When I try to start driving, it feels like I am still in high gear. No power at all. I seem to have to push the accelerator harder and harder to get the car moving, then it will seem to shift and run well until I get to a light or stop for any reason, and it will do it again.