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I have a 2002 Suzuki XL7 with 103,700 miles. It’s been a decent car but starting to have issues.

While my panel thermostat indicates normal heat, I have wondered for some time if my engine runs too hot.

1. The check-engine light has come on and off for three years. Every mechanic has said there’s nothing wrong with the engine. A tech program said it was a circuitry issue. Who fixes that?

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2. I’ve had AC issues, and I mentioned heat in vents even though its set to cool. AC was addressed, fan clutch changed, cabin air filter changed.

3. Now I’m hearing ticking noises and read it could be spark plugs or engine damage.

Honestly, I’ve had the same tech for years. Is he missing stuff? Should I get new eyes under my hood?

Irene from Kansas

Irene, I so wanted your name to be Dorothy, but that’s another story. Regardless, everything is fixable. The question therefore is, “how much should you be spending on your vehicle as it nears the end of its life?”

I’m confident your temperature gauge is at least reasonably accurate and the heat you are feeling through the vents is not an overheating engine but an air-conditioning or venting-system issue. Your check-engine light doesn’t necessarily report on the status of the mechanics of the engine itself, but rather the complete fuel-management and timing systems. Ticking noises are rarely spark plugs; your noise is more likely something else, such a valve lifter.

While your mileage is not that high, it sounds to me like your tech might be band-aiding your vehicle. Head back into the shop and ask for an honest assessment of the complete vehicle before proceeding with any costly repairs.

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Hi Lou. My husband drives a Dodge 1500 and when a 2020 Acura TLX approached behind him, the high beams were very bright. When my husband approached the driver, she said her high beams were not on. I think this car has auto headlights and they will turn automatically on.

I need advice, please. Thank you, Angie

Sorry Angie, I’m not sure what you’re asking me here, so I’m going to guess that you have made a bet with your husband regarding whether or not the Acura owner was trying to get your husbands attention.

The new ILX features a system that Acura calls Jewel Eye LED headlights. This new headlight features five bright LED’s, with the vehicle’s low beams utilizing the outer 3 LEDs and engaging the high beams adds the two inner LEDs. Acura states “the three outer LEDs on each light reveal the road more clearly without blinding oncoming traffic. The lenses are precisely aimed, yet focus the LED beam over a longer, wider area.”

An internet query reveals that many new ILX owners state that they are being high beamed by oncoming traffic indicating to them that their high beams are on, even though they are not. So, I guess it’s safe to say that the new Jewel Eye LED headlights are indeed very bright.


What’s on my radar

Removing the glass from a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS.

Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

I’ve heard the same thing many times now – that there is nothing more expensive in life than a cheap Ferrari. Thankfully, my gift in life is being able to fix just about anything, meaning that I can acquire broken yet fixable items at a fraction of their value. In the case of this 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS, it came to me in the challenging repair state that I refer to as “very broken.” Had a customer brought this particular example into me for a retail repair quote, I surely would have shaken my head and asked them if they could return the car and get their money back.

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But not following one’s own advice is common among those who have project-car fever. If that’s not enough, I have also legitimized this acquisition by rationalizing that while regular project cars are plentiful, a suitable project with a prancing horse emblem on it is not. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this personal labour of love will not require me to pay myself to complete.

The engine of the 308 GTS.

Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

Normally, I would want to see a potential purchase move under its own power before I sealed the deal, but in this case, starting a Ferrari engine after having sat for 12 years without first performing its timing-belt service is a risky move. This 308 came from a close friend and in the same line of work as myself, so I took the car’s running status at his word.

I am currently in the process of removing the engine, interior and glass in preparation for sending the car to be stripped and painted. Thankfully, this car doesn’t seem to have much corrosion despite having travelled 68,000 miles, which is considered high mileage in the Ferrari world. Essentially, the car needs to be completely disassembled, refreshed and then put back together. Updates will be provided if there is an interest.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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