Q: I have an 2004 GMC Sierra Classic 4x4 crew cab with 82,000 miles. I bought the truck used in 2006 with 22,000 miles. It is a second vehicle, so it may sit unused for several days at a time. I change the oil every 3,000 miles. I don't do any other maintenance. The truck runs like it's brand-new. With the winter being what it has been this year, I have had occasion to use four-wheel drive. Should I change the transmission fluid? I don't remember when that was done last. Can you recommend any other maintenance checks I should have done to the vehicle?
A: I sure would change the transmission fluid. A peek into the ALLDATA maintenance schedule for your car is a real good guide. The same information is included in your owner's maintenance manual. Besides the GM-recommended maintenance, I would take a close look at the battery and belts. Further, I would change the fluid in the front and rear differentials. A "BG" power flush of the power steering system, as well as the cooling system, will make your car ready for a trouble-free season of driving.
Q: I own a 2003 Toyota Highlander. The problem started two winters ago. When the temperature outside gets to 10 degrees and below that, I have a problem shifting the car out of park. The button on the shifter will not go in. I pump the brake because you have to have your foot on the brake to push the button in. It takes about two or three minutes of trying to push the button in before it works. Any idea what could be causing this button not to engage had how to fix this problem?
A: All solenoids need to be examined, and all wire connections need to be cleaned and tightened. This a very reliable system installed in a reliable vehicle.
Q: Your most recent article concerning the new ignition cylinder has piqued my interest. I drive a 2000 Saab 9-3 SE with 108,000 miles and have been having a very similar problem as the Saturn owner. The only major difference is that the Saturn owner mentioned that the problem occurs during cold/damp weather. My car seems to have this problem regardless of the weather. There is no telling when the car won't turn over. It seems like I am gambling every time I get into the car. Just like the Saturn, all the dashboard lights come on, but the engine won't turn over — it is just silent.
I also noticed when this problem occurs that the brake pedal seems to get much tighter. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes or less to start back up, and other times it can take quite a bit longer than 10 minutes. When it does start, it is as if there is nothing wrong with the car. Do you think this could be the same problem as the Saturn?
I brought it to the Saab dealer several months back, and they told me that they can't diagnose the problem unless it happens for them. I left it with them for about a week thinking that the problem would certainly happen when they go to start it several times a day. It never did. I picked it back up from them, and within an hour the same problem happened again.
A: The only way to finally resolve the problem will be to put in a series of test light bulbs in the system. When you turn your key and the car does not start, you need to note which lights are lit and which are not. Without that, it is only a guessing game.
Car Care Tip: Don't forget to check your spare tire once a month.
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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 e-mail to scan email@example.com.