, Salem, MA

May 26, 2013

'02 Jeep Cherokee 'groans' when turning

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I have a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Limited, Quadra-Drive, 4.7-liter, eight-cylinder PowerTech with 67,000 miles. It has been serviced regularly at 3,000-mile intervals at a Jeep dealership. All fluid levels are as they should be. Intermittently, at parking lot speed, when making fairly sharp left or right turns, I hear a “groaning” sound — source unknown. Some time ago a local garage said it was caused by asymmetric tire wear. Since then I have installed four new tires and I still experience the “groaning.” Have you any experience of this phenomenon and suggestions for resolution?

A: The noise you describe could be from the front CV axle, which is being stressed to the limits of the flexibility that is documented by the manufacturers. The other, and more probable, source of the noise is a front end suspension component such as a ball joint or a tie rod. If this is indeed a consistent issue, there is a very simple answer to diagnosing the source of the groan. Poke a very small hole in the ball joint boot, and load it up with a can of WD-40 and then go for a road test. If the noise is still there, treat the rest of the steering components with a shot of WD-40 one by one until you discover the source of the noise.

Q: I have a 1984 Corvette C4, which I love, but the frustrating issue (for about eight months now) is whenever I put a fuse in for the taillights, it always blows and all four lights go out. When I put the fuse in, they all light up, but within minutes they are all out again. While they are out, my turning lights and brake lights still light up. We replaced the headlight switch but to no avail. I really want to drive my car at night this summer, but can’t until this is fixed!

A: Finding electrical problems is always a treat. The great part of this problem is that your car is a 1984 model, and therefore uses a single computer for engine management and a straightforward lighting system. First thing you want to get is a slow blow resettable fuse of the same amperage that keeps blowing out on you. Replace the fuse with the slow blow resettable. Turn on your lights and walk around the car to look for one light that is much brighter or much dimmer than the others. That is going to tell you on which circuit the short to ground exists. If that does not reveal the offending light, then you can purchase a short circuit finder, which will send a frequency through the circuit. With a pick up wand you will run the vehicle around the car until it sounds the loudest. That will be the area of the short to ground. If you recently changed a bulb on the car just before the problem started, that would be a good place to start. In case you don’t want to go through all of the above, take the vehicle to a repair shop that is ASE certified, and has the tools and experience to locate the problem at a minimum cost.

Car Care Tip: When was the last time you checked the air pressure in your spare tire? While you’re in that area checking the pressure, look at the car’s jack and wrench for rust. Cleaning and lubricating a jack now will pay off when you need it on the side of the road.

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