Dear Tom and Ray:
My Ford F-150 owner’s manual points out that there are certain “jack points” for the front and rear axles. I had a puncture in the sidewall of a rear tire, so the tire needed to be replaced. The local tire dealer jacked up the rear of the truck by the pumpkin — the rear differential. I pointed out that the owner’s manual says NOT to jack the vehicle by the rear differential. The dealer said they “do it all the time, and it does not make any difference.” Please clarify for me. I would think that Ford’s recommendation is more valid, but what is the reason? Thanks. — Mike
TOM: My guess is that Ford’s advice is geared toward you, Mike, the owner of the vehicle. And it assumes you’ll be using the jack that came with the truck to change a tire.
RAY: That jack is small, and really is for emergency use only. It’s designed to lift up only one corner of the vehicle, because that’s all it needs to do to allow you to swap out a tire.
TOM: So Ford, and every other manufacturer, creates jack points near each of the wheels. Those are reinforced spots that can handle the full weight of that corner of the car when you raise it up in the air.
RAY: They don’t want you to jack up the car using some other point that’s not reinforced, because if your improvised jack point fails and the top of the jack punctures the vehicle, the truck could come down on top of you. And that’s no fun.
TOM: But if you have a hydraulic floor jack that’s capable of lifting the whole truck, then there are other points you can use, if you know what you’re doing.
RAY: This dealer did know what he was doing. The “pumpkin” (the rear differential that looks kind of like a pumpkin, that sits in the middle of the rear axle) is designed to carry the full weight of the truck when the truck is on the ground. If it couldn’t, the axle tube would break. So we know it can carry the weight of the truck when it’s in the air, too.
TOM: And, in fact, that pumpkin and axle are designed to carry much more than just the weight of the truck. Since you have a pickup, chances are you’re also going to be doing what? Picking stuff up with it!
RAY: So with a proper jack, the pumpkin is a perfectly acceptable jack point. We do it all the time, too.
FIX FOR SHAKING CAR MAY BE VERY SIMPLE
Dear Tom and Ray:
I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla with 60,000 miles. I love the car. It’s never given me any problems, except this one: It has an annoying vibration that occurs exclusively when I’m stopped with the brake engaged. If I’m stopped at a light and I put the car in park, the vibration goes away. My mechanic of more than 36 years (he’s excellent) is stumped. He’s replaced two motor mounts that he thought were causing the problem. When the vibration didn’t go away, he replaced a third motor mount. But it’s still vibrating. Any thoughts on what’s causing this and how to fix it? — Jillian
TOM: The motor mount was a good guess. Usually it’s the big one in front that breaks and causes this kind of vibration.
RAY: But he’s replaced all three motor mounts now. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the motor mounts are not the problem.
TOM: That’s why you wrote to us, Jillian — for that kind of keen analysis, right?
RAY: Actually, I’m guessing you have the same problem that we saw recently in the shop.
TOM: It also was a Corolla. Everything under the sun had been tried to stop it from vibrating.
RAY: I had the car out for a test drive, and I was stopped at a light. The thing was shaking and buzzing, and for some reason, I decided to pop the hood release. And the vibration stopped.
TOM: Turned out the hood was vibrating.
RAY: There are two little “bumpers” that stick up from the radiator support under the hood. Their job is to push up against the underside of the hood when it’s closed and keep it from vibrating. I guess they had worn down, and they weren’t doing their job anymore.
TOM: They’re actually adjustable, so all we had to do was back them out a few turns, close the hood and voila! We charged the lady 450 bucks and gave her the car back.
RAY: No, it was a five-minute job. So we charged her only $425. But I’m guessing that’s what’s wrong with your car, Jillian. Have your mechanic check it out, and let us know.
* * *
What is the most cost-effective way to buy a car? Tom and Ray hash it all out in their pamphlet “Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
Get more Click and Clack in their new book, “Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk.” Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
(c) 2014 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.