My SUV’s air conditioner doesn’t move a lot of cold air
Q. The air conditioner does not work in my 2004 Ford Explorer. The air coming out of the vents is cold, but there is not much. Fan speeds are all running and the air louvers appear to open and close. Could the system be clogged and block the air flow?
A. I would start by looking at the fan. The fan is a cage design, and I’ve seen the vanes break or get so covered in dirt that they can’t move the air. The fan is fairly easy to remove, with just four or five screws. While it is off, check that it is also spinning correctly. The fan bearings could also seize up and slow the fan down.
Q. I have a 2008 Dodge Sebring convertible. I rarely put the top down, but the last time I did, something broke. One of my neighbors pried open the lid a bit and closed the roof. What’s wrong ?
A. I helped a neighbor with what looks like the same problem. When the top opens, there is a retractable trim piece on the left and right sides. It covers the upper mechanism, has a spring and slides on a 4 inch track. On this car, I removed the trim cover, removed the slider, let the spring retract, and now the roof opens and closes normally. I needed to screw the top trim into place with a few small screws, and while it isn’t as pretty as the left side, the top section works fine.
Q. I see small cars with trailer hitches, and I never see them towing a trailer. In fact, I’m not sure a VW Beetle or Mazda Miata can tow a trailer. Why would someone put a trailer hitch on a small car if they didn’t need it?
A. A trailer hitch or receiver should never be used for towing. Years ago I had a small SUV and installed a trailer hitch receiver to mount a bracket so I could move a snow thrower. The holder was also handy for carrying dirty and unwanted items in the car. Other people will use the receiver to mount a bike rack or carry beach chairs. Some people tow with small cars. I saw a Miata pull a big JetSki (probably not recommended by Mazda) down the highway recently.
Q. I have a 2012 Nissan Altima Coupe and recently a headlight bulb blew out. I bought a bulb and went to replace it, but I don’t know how to access the bulb. Someone told me you had to take the bumper off. Can this be true?
A. In this case, you don’t remove the bumper, but there is a bit of extra work. You will need to remove the wheel and then remove the fender liner. Once the fender liner is removed, you will be able to see the bulb. Unscrew the bulb holder, remove the old bulb and then carefully install the new bulb. Keep dirt and oil out of the bulb and don’t touch it with your hands – use gloves or a clean towel. Oils from your fingers can cause the bulb to overheat and fail.
Q. Would you buy a homemade car? I recently saw a Cobra replica for sale. It looked good, but I found out that the owner built it himself. It looks like there could be a host of mechanical and safety issues with something like this.
A. Yes, I would buy a homemade car, but with a few caveats. Like any used car, I would have it inspected by a garage that is familiar with the base vehicle. Then it depends on the kit. I was recently at Factory Five Racing and saw how their kits are made. The frames and the bodies were well made. They have years of experience in refining their products and the knowledge to help their customers. I would also look at the transmission and the suspension. Was it new? Does it come from a donor vehicle? How was it installed? If it looks good or looks like a project you want to finish, buy it and have fun.
John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Automotive Physician. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Email your question about the car to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.
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