Question: What is your opinion of dealer-applied upholstery protection? It can be expensive - can I do the same thing myself with a can of Scotchgard?
Answer: Often, this is a "package" purchase offered to new-car buyers. It usually includes rustproofing, paint protection, and upholstery/fabric protection. The advantage to the buyer is that the cost of this package can be rolled into the purchase price/financing of the vehicle and becomes a very small part of the monthly payment.
You can certainly protect both the interior and paint yourself - apply the Scotchgard aerosol and give the body a good coat of wax or sealant every six months. If you live where road salt is used, rustproofing may make sense if you plan to keep the vehicle for its entire 10- to 15-year service life.
Q: I inherited my dad's '98 Buick Century with 140,000 miles. The transmission shifts smoothly during warm weather. Last winter, upon cold start-up, the car did not want to move very fast. The engine would rev but the car moved slowly. As soon as the engine warmed up, it was fine. Any advice?
A: A sluggish response from the transmission on a cold start typically means one of two things: low hydraulic pressure or sticking hydraulic valves. Because of the potential damage from slippage when cold, my suggestion is to add half a can of SeaFoam Trans-Tune to the transmission fluid, drive the vehicle for a couple of weeks, then have the transmission professionally serviced - drain, flush, new fluid and filter.
Q: My C5 Corvette has the "Service ABS system" and "Service Traction Control" lights on in the dashboard DIC [driver information center]. It has 43,000 miles on it, and these lights are now on full time. A scan tool identified an EBCM [electronic brake control module] fault. The traction control won't shut off. I've scoured the Web and Corvette forums, and apparently GM isn't manufacturing this part anymore. Used parts seem to be outrageously priced. Several companies state that they can repair the EBCM but that may be suspect. Have you had any experience with this particular issue?
A: I have. My 2007 C6 developed an EBCM fault where the traction-control warning light was on permanently. Fortunately, the extended warranty covered this expensive repair. If I recall correctly, the specific fault code indicated a problem with the brake pressure sensor, an integral part of the EBCM. I always wondered if this part could be serviced independently, but the warranty negated the question.
First, can you determine whether the fault is in the EBCM - the computer/control module - or in the BPMV, the brake pressure modulator valve assembly? It is possible to replace either half of the unit.
At this point, you have several options. Drive the car as is - not the best answer because the ABS and traction control are nonfunctional even though the hydraulic-service brake system is intact and fully functional. You could purchase a used or remanufactured EBCM or, if you can find one, a new old stock (NOS) unit.
A new EBCM is listed at just over $1,000 in my ALLDATA database. I found one NOS unit for under $900 on eBay, and used units anywhere from $300 to $2,500, depending on whether it's the entire assembly or separate EBCM and BPMV components.