SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 27, 2013

Auto Scanner: Car makes noise after front-end collision and repair

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I was in a front-end collision two months ago. The body shop fixed the exterior, but the collision affected the ride. It is now noisy, and there is a vibration. I have 30,000 miles on the car, and so far, only the left front bearing has been replaced. I have good tires on the car and have had them high-speed balanced. I wonder if there is something you can recommend?

A: I will have to assume that, in addition to the front end of the car, you also had damage to the corner near the wheel. The MacPherson struts, as well as the lower control arm, are often overlooked after a collision. A good collision shop should have an alignment machine and a frame machine. Have you gone back to the collision shop yet? If you have and you’re still not satisfied, then by all means, call your insurance company or your insurance agent. You need to tell them the car was not fixed properly. The insurance company paid the collision repair shop to properly repair your car, and from what you’ve described, it sounds like there are underlying problems. The insurance company can open the case back up and have them work on it until it’s right. In the interim, I think it’s only proper that they supply you with a loaner car.

Q: I purchased a preowned, 2003 Ford Focus wagon with 61,000 miles from a Ford dealership four years ago. In that span, I have had to replace the flex plate three times. Each time, it cracked within a year of replacing. The first two times, the dealership replaced it under warranty. This last time, just this month, the warranty had expired and I was to bear the full cost of $700. They could give me no reason for this happening. They said they checked everything and that all the specs matched, but there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t crack again. In the end, they replaced it and agreed to absorb half the cost, this time only. The work order states a diagnosis and replacement of a cracked flex plate. What do you think is going on?

A: Besides replacing the cracked flex plate, they should have also replaced the torque converter while you were still under warranty. The torque converter bolts to the flex plate. If the torque converter is running out of round due to either a machining problem, a front pump problem, or missing studs and/or bolts in the bell housing, the flex plate will fracture. Although they fixed the crack, they never fixed the root cause of the problem. You may want to go back to the dealer with this letter for further repair. I don’t believe you should have to pay for the same repair over and over again. You may also want to have a Ford representative meet you at the dealership.

Car Care Tip: When did you check your spare tire last? The only thing worse than a flat tire is having a flat spare tire, as well. Make it a weekend chore to take five minutes and check the pressure of the spare, as well as the presence of a jack and lug wrench.

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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.