Q: I have a 2006 Honda CR-V which I purchased new. I have replaced the driver's side headlamp eight times and the passenger side six times since purchase. They do not go out at the same time and there is no warning or early signs such as flickering or dimming. I drive with my headlights on at all times but even so, I have never had a car go through so many headlamps. I currently have around 139,400 miles on the car.
A: Neither have I. The five primary causes of lamp failure are: overvoltage, poor-quality connections that lead to arcing and burned contacts, mechanical shock from loose mounting or excess vibration, cooling shock from water/moisture hitting the halogen lamp while it is hot, and skin oil contamination from touching the glass envelope during installation. Plus, of course, old age — halogen lamps have an average life expectancy of 450-1,000 hours. If you averaged 35 mph for all your driving, the headlamps could last roughly 35,000 miles.
Carefully check the individual pins/sockets in the headlamp connectors. If any are burned or damaged, repair or replace the connector. Make sure they snap together and seal properly. A dab of dielectric grease can prevent contamination and corrosion in the connectors. Also, make sure there is no moisture or water trapped inside the headlamp housings.
Q: I have a 2009 Nissan Altima that has a rubbing noise coming from the front of the car. It's most pronounced when backing out and turning the steering wheel clockwise, but you can hear it turning in either direction and when moving forward as well. We've had several shops look at it over the last couple of years but no one sees any evidence of rubbing. What are your thoughts?
A: Does the rubbing noise occur while you are actually turning the steering wheel, or as the car is moving once you've turned the wheel? If it occurs as you are turning the steering wheel, check the rubber mounts for the steering rack and the couplers on the steering shaft.
In checking my ALLDATA automotive database I found Nissan recall bulletin PC012 and NHTSA recall 0935800 identifying a potential safety issue caused by cracked front strut insulators. These parts are located just below the upper strut mounting tower in the engine compartment and can be replaced by removing and safely disassembling the strut. Movement of the strut may be allowing tire rub on the coil spring.
The bulletin and recall were issued in the fall of 2009 and if you are the original owner of the vehicle you should have received this recall notice. A Nissan dealer should be able to check the status of the recall for your specific vehicle.
Q: I have noticed that very few newer vehicles have a recommended interval for fuel filter replacement. Both of my vehicles, a Corolla and a Grand Cherokee, have fuel filters on them. How do I know when to replace these? Should I do this annually or based on mileage driven? I change the boat, mower, snowblower filters each season, so why not the cars?
A: Because many no longer have replaceable fuel filters. he filter for the fuel system is an integral part of the fuel pump assembly inside the fuel tank and is not easily serviceable.
If your vehicle did have a serviceable fuel filter, changing it every 30,000 miles would be practicing good maintenance. But neither of your vehicles does, so no worries.
Motoring note: As a follow-up to my comments about the Infiniti I30 skipping or hopping over large bumps, reader Bobby Schnitzer offered another possibility. "That car had a solid rear axle suspension. If the tires were overinflated it could demonstrate that exact behavior. It is something I have experienced with my Alfa." Good point, Bobby, thanks for sharing it.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Paul Brand, author of "How to Repair Your Car," is an automotive troubleshooter, driving instructor and former race-car driver. Readers may write to him at: Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn., 55488 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please explain the problem in detail and include a daytime phone number. Because of the volume of mail, we cannot provide personal replies.
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