, Salem, MA

August 31, 2013

'02 Sebring's tires keep losing air

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Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I own a 2002 Chrysler Sebring that now has 82,000 easy miles. As you can see, I drive less than the average driver. Over the years, the car has been very good to me except for a leaking radiator and a transmission overhaul. For the last six years, I have had an ongoing problem that no one has been able to fix. My problem is the tires keep losing air! I have purchased new tires to try to alleviate this problem. But even the new tires are losing air. I had new valve stems installed and the tires checked for nails. I have even chalk marked the valve stem caps to see if someone was playing games with my car when the car was parked. Do you have any idea what might be going on?

A: I am so sorry that no one you dealt with was aware of the oxidation problem with the Chrysler aluminum rims. This has been a problem not only with Chrysler but with many manufacturers that use aluminum rims as original equipment. At my shop, we have two ways to resolve this problem. The least expensive way to resolve the leaking rim issue is to dismount all the tires, grind all the rust and corrosion off the bead of the rims, apply a generous coating of bead sealer on the rims’ beads, remount the tires, check for leaks, balance the tires and reinstall on the vehicle. If the leaks persist, the recommended next repair is to replace the rims with steel rims and then install a set of shiny hubcaps that approximate the design of the older aluminum wheels.

Q: I have a 1998 Chevrolet Astro that I can’t stop from overheating. I have had fan belt, hoses, the fan clutch, temp gage and radiator replaced. In desperation, I bought and had a used engine installed. The temp gauge still goes up to three-quarters and most of the time comes back down while still driving. Sometimes, I have to park it and wait several hours to get it to cool back down. What is left to check?

A: I had a similar problem car many years ago. The customer had done most of the repairs you listed. My shop checked, and all the mechanical and cooling functions were working as designed. The problem happened to be a missing air dam in the front of the vehicle. So, you want to check that all the plastic components below the grill are properly in place, as well as the electric fan. Now, just an off-the-wall thing you may want to check would be the radiator fan. Be very sure the fan is not spinning backward. The fan should be pulling air through it from the outside. A fan running in reverse will be blowing it out the grill. That’s not what you want.

Car Care Tip: It’s good maintenance to check your car jack. A few drops of mystery oil on the moving parts will assure it will be working when you need it.


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