Dear Car Fix: I have an odd question. I have a Saab and the remote key rarely works so I use the door lock to lock the car, but sometimes I get back to my car and all the windows are down and the sunroof is open. Why is this? I can't leave anything in the car, as I'm afraid it'll get stolen and this happens on a random basis. Please help!
-- A.M., Orchard Park
Dear A.M.: Many European and higher-end cars have a feature that allows you to cool off a car on hot days. The owner's manual will tell you if you have this feature, which many Saabs do have. To make this function work, place the key in the driver's door lock and turn and hold the key in place and all the windows (and sunroof if equipped) will open so the car will cool and you don't get burned.
Note: When the temperature soars above 90 degrees, air trapped inside a vehicle heats up quickly. The steering wheel can reach 159 degrees, warm enough to cook medium rare beef; the seat can reach 162 and the dashboard can heat up to 181, all within a few hours or less. Sun damage can seriously ruin paint jobs and interiors not to mention damage to any items left behind.
Any GM dealer can replace the battery in your Saab remote key fob. That will help you keep your items secure.
Dear Car Fix: I have an issue with a 2003 Acura MDX with approximately 75,000 miles on it. We have owned the vehicle for three years and we have continually experienced a weird event. Without warning, and not all the time, a strange howling sound is heard from the right side of the vehicle. It only lasts for about 15 seconds. It may occur again right away or may not. This does not occur each time it is driven. The dealer has no clue. What do you suggest be done?
-- J.J., Buffalo
Dear JJ: Your five senses -- hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch -- are important for learning about our cars. This may sound odd -- but if you think about how these senses can give us information, it can help you speak to a technician, figure out what's wrong and even save us from possible dangers. Taste is the only one to forget.
As for the weird howling sound that comes and goes, it could be the belts, which can make noises, and there is belt dressing that will quiet the noises. A technician can apply this spray to quiet the belt noise.
The reason belts make noise is that the rubber is moving around metal pulleys that operate your engine and the accessories such as power steering pump, air-conditioning and such. Many new cars and trucks come with a single "serpentine" belt that drives all the accessories (water pump, alternator, power steering, A/C). You need to find out when the noise occurs to give you an exact answer:
When is it happening? At what speed? When turning, idling, driving straight, making left or right turns? Be specific when you describe the noise, sound or issue. This will help the technician diagnose the problem.
Can you tell where the noise, leak or problem might be located? You have done that. Is this something that just started? How long has it been going on?
Dear Car Fix: I have contacted you before with good results, please help again! My son has a '93 Saturn with 100,000 miles on it. He says it runs fine for about 20 minutes, then stops and won't start again for about 20 minutes. He changed the fuel filter and no luck.
-- D.S., Buffalo
Dear D.S.: When a car won't start or runs for a short period of time, it has to do with fuel or spark. For the fuel system, modern cars all use some form of electronic fuel injection and this could lead me to think that it is the fuel system or the ground on the engine.
Another possibility is that something is overheating that is causing the engine not to get spark, which ignites the fuel. I suggest having an ASE-certified technician do a diagnostic check on the fuel and electrical system. I've had one of these gremlins in a car before and it requires a patient person to track it down. Remember that a technician may charge an hourly rate to track down this problem so ask for pricing in advance.