Dear Car Fix: My 2001 Monte Carlo SS leaks water on the driver's side front and back when it rains. I also have a flat spot on my Goodyear tires. My car sat in a closed garage for five years, and I got it started two weeks ago.
-- D.S., Buffalo
Dear D.S.: Let's start with the tires. Tire flat-spotting happens to cars that sit for long times without being moved. You may feel a ride disturbance or shimmy during the first few miles of driving after your vehicle has been parked for days, weeks or months. Then, after you drive a couple of miles, the ride smoothes out and feels OK. This condition is often called flat-spotting because it is used to describe tire flat spots that can occur when a vehicle is parked.
Many heavy-duty, high-performance, high-speed rated and racing tires have a memory because they remember the position in which they were last parked before they are driven on again. Unfortunately, their memory can become a problem when the tires experience big swings in air temperature, have been parked overnight in cold temperatures, or parked for an extended period of time.
Without getting too technical, the longer tires remain stationary, the better they remember the position in which they were last parked. Tires on vehicles stored on the ground for many months can be permanently flat-spotted.
To minimizing flat-spotting, when storing a vehicle for more than a few weeks, put it up on "blocks." Doing this takes the load off the tires completely.
The leak could come from the windshield or rear glass. These rubber seals can crack with age. Other areas to look at are in the cowling area. Sometimes leaves get clumped up around the area. There are drains in that area and when they get plugged up, the water can't drain properly and it ends up going into the car.
Dear Car Fix: My daughter has a 2003 Jeep Renegade. In May 2010, the rear power window on the driver's side failed to go up. She had it repaired at a cost of $400. In July 2010, the rear window on the passenger side did the same thing and was repaired. Two weeks ago, the driver's side rear window broke again. I understand that this is a common problem among Chrysler vehicles and a recall has not been issued. Do you happen to know if Chrysler is offering any kind of assistance to Jeep owners for these repairs?
Also, since the one window doesn't seem to have been repaired properly the first time, do you have any advice with regard to where the work should be done? The dealership she patronized has since closed.
-- J.C., Lockport
Dear J.C.: The problem is a faulty window regulator and there have been numerous complaints about this problem with this model. There currently is no recall, so the expense is on the current owner. There needs to be a recall. I'd suggest submitting your complaint to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association at www. safercar.gov.
Dear Car Fix: We purchased a new 2010 Dodge Ram 4X4 with the Hemi in April. We purchased a "lifetime" warranty from Chrysler through the dealer. But when the actual policy came, we found out it only covered something if it was a factory error. We were looking for an extended warranty to cover breakdown. Is there such a thing? And if so, do, you recommend buying it?
-- V.H., Springville
Dear V.H.: An extended warranty is an insurance policy on your vehicle, a safeguard against expensive, unforeseen repairs. The term "extended warranty" is actually a misnomer, since, in the strictest sense of the word, these aren't warranties at all. True warranties, though, are included in the price of the product; extended auto warranties are really service contracts, since they cost extra and are sold separately.
In deciding whether an extended warranty is right for you, and in selecting the best plan for your needs, you'll need to ask yourself the following:
*How much of your current warranty is left or already covered?
*What's the reliability record of the model you're purchasing?
*What company is behind the warranty?
*What's the deductible?
*Who is doing the work or repairs?
*Can repairs be performed at any repair shop?
*What exactly is covered?
*What is total cash layout required for repairs?
*Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.
*If the extended warranty is offered directly from the factory, then make sure you can go to any dealer of the manufacturer before signing on the bottom line.