Q: My car shakes when I apply the brakes. Are my brake pads worn out?

A: They could be, but the problem likely lies in the front brake rotors being warped. Brake rotors can warp from exposure to rapid heating/cooling and by not having the wheel nuts properly torqued. Occasionally this issue comes from the rear rotors, but  if the shake is particularly noticeable in the steering wheel at highway speed, the problem comes from the front. Unless severe, this shaking is more of a nuisance than an immediate peril, but sooner or later you will want to get it fixed.

Q: My oil pressure warning light came on, and I found that my car was 2.5 quarts low on oil! How can this be? I get my oil changed every 4 months religiously!

A: Chances are that the last several times the oil was changed, this critical point was almost reached. It is holding a car to a very high standard to expect no oil consumption between oil changes. This standard is questionable for a brand-new car and totally unrealistic once some mileage is accrued. Even if no drops are seen on the garage floor some oil will be consumed by normal engine combustion and go out the tailpipe. It is also possible for a small or major leak to develop at any time. The only way the engine has a fighting chance for long-term survival is if the dipstick is checked frequently!

Q: Why does my fuel economy differ from EPA estimates?

A: No test can accurately predict fuel economy for all drivers and all driving conditions. Driver behavior, driving conditions, vehicle maintenance, fuel characteristics, weather and other factors can all affect fuel economy significantly.

Q: What does it mean if the TPMS warning lamp becomes illuminated?

A: When the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) warning lamp on the instrument panel illuminates while the vehicle is being driven, it means that the system has detected at least one tire with a pressure at least 25% below the accepted minimum inflation pressure for the vehicle. If the lamp comes on, the driver should inspect their tires and check the pressure as soon as possible. The lamp should extinguish after the tires are properly inflated.

Q: What is the purpose of the timing belt and why is it so important that it be changed regularly?

A: The main purpose of the engine's timing belt is to drive the camshaft. The camshaft opens and closes the engine's valves, as it rotates, at specific intervals to allow the fuel/air mixture in and exhaust fumes out. If the timing belt fails, not only will the engine stop running, leaving your vehicle disabled, but it may also result in valve, cylinder head or piston damage. This can be very expensive. The reason for this damage is that some engines are built with very tight valve-to-piston clearances. If the valve timing on such an engine is allowed to vary too much or the belt breaks, it results in the valves opening at the wrong times or staying open altogether, and the pistons can therefore hit the valves, causing damage.

For most cars, the timing belt should be replaced every 60,000 to 120,000 miles or anytime the belt becomes damaged or contaminated with oil or similar fluids. See your owners' manual for specifics. A timing belt is made using rubber, which simply deteriorates with time and mileage. When a new belt is installed, the gears, tensioners, camshaft and crankshaft oil seals and possibly the water pump should also be inspected and serviced, as necessary. Some engines also incorporate a counter-balance shaft system to reduce engine vibrations. Some of these counter-balance shafts are driven by a separate belt similar to a timing belt. This belt should always be replaced anytime the timing belt is replaced.

Whether you're hearing noises you can't explain or simply wondering about your fuel economy, the friendly staff at Acura of Peabody is here to enlighten and advise on all your vehicle issues. Here we answer some common questions about vehicle performance. If you have more questions, we hope you'll call or come by our Greater Boston Acura service center

Cars aren't always easy to understand, but Acura of Peabody is here to clear up some of your questions! When you're looking for Acura car service near Andover, MA be sure to stop into your trusted Acura dealership near North Andover. We're here to help you out with all of your car needs. If you're looking for a new Acura in Peabody, MA or a used car near Andover, our friendly staff is always willing to help you out! With a wide selection of specials on Acura cars and specials on car service in Peabody, MA, you're sure to get just what you need for a price that works for your budget! We're excited to start working with you so give us a call today or stop into Acura of Peabody for a test drive!