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I have a 2014 Camry LE with 51,000 kilometres on it. But for the past month, I’ve been hearing a unique popping sound at different times, and my Toyota dealer has been unable to find it. Last month, they said it was a chassis bolt which they had tightened. But I don’t believe they ever did a driving test. Any ideas?

Ray A

On the odd chance that the noise is emanating from above your head, be aware that Camrys with a moonroof did have an annoying popping noise that was the subject of a service bulletin. That being said, the most common source of odd suspension noises on your year and model are from the front-strut upper insulators.

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Most dealerships pay their technicians on a flat-rate pay basis; therefore, they rarely get paid to test drive vehicles that are post-warranty, such as yours. If the dealer technician can’t replicate your noise on a quick test drive, they are forced to guess. They will, of course, guess at the easiest repair, like tightening a chassis bolt, which likely was presented to you at no charge. Changing the upper insulators at your expense, based on a guess, is a recipe for an upset customer.

I’m confident that the dealer inspected all important suspension and braking systems and would never let you leave their lot if they were worried for your safety. Nuisance noises will eventually get worse and become easier to identify. If you aren’t comfortable waiting for it to get worse on its own, then you will have to authorize them to spend a few hours of labour trying to identify the noise.


I have a 2018 Subaru STI. I have installed a Cobb Stage 1 package (air intake) and am going to have a shop install the Stage 2 (exhaust) and Stage 3 (upgrades to fuel system). The shop that I am considering using recommends installing an air/oil separator at the same time to reduce oil consumption and keep the turbo-intake components clean. There is lots of discussion available on the internet as to whether it is necessary for this car, but I would like to know your thoughts on whether this is a good idea or not really necessary. I do some spirited driving along gravel roads, but I do not take the car to a track, so I wouldn’t say I am very hard on the engine.

Rhys

Modifying cars undoubtedly provides more horsepower, but the cost is always reliability. If any car manufacturer could give their vehicles more horsepower without any drawbacks, they certainly would. Everything is a balance between power and fuel economy or premature component failure.

An oil separator is designed to be plumbed into the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system to aid in dealing with engine blow-by. Subarus, and in particular STI models have a reputation for consuming oil, even in stock form. This oil consumption is related to the above-mentioned engine blow-by, and the modifications you are planning will certainly aggravate that situation. Therefore, whatever amount of oil that is currently being consumed by your vehicle will get worse. An air/oil separator’s effectiveness is debatable. Some swear by them; others see little improvement. My answer is that it can’t hurt, so you might as well follow your shop’s recommendations. Keep in mind that whatever new-car warranty is remaining on your vehicle will be voided once you get to stage 3.


What’s on my radar?

A couple of weeks ago I showed off our recently acquired Puma project car, destined to become our first electric-car conversion. As with any project, one has to take stock of their tools to guarantee a successful venture. As a mechanical repair shop, acquiring certain fabrication equipment has not been at the top of my priority list. However, this new EV project has me looking to update some of my older equipment and invest in new tools to make the project a reality. The first item on my aged-equipment list was the shop’s Tungsten Inert Gas Welder (TIG). My research ultimately led me to a Canadian manufacturer, fittingly called Canaweld. Since I’m a staunch supporter of all made-in-Canada things, I immediately wanted to know more and scheduled a visit at their manufacturing facility in Vaughn, Ont.

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The Canaweld manufacturing facility in Vaughan, Ont.

Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

When I arrived, I asked how their business has been since the COVID-19 pandemic began. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that even though their showroom doors had been closed, their online sales had picked up the slack. Apparently, with more people stuck at home due to the coronavirus, they finally had time to work on their DIY projects and needed welders.

Technical specialist Nick Baspaly gave me a tour of the manufacturing plant, and then we got down to business with a product demo. I was impressed by the build quality and attention to detail these welders offer.

Online sales helped Canaweld cope when the pandemic forced them to close their shop to customers.

Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

As an added bonus, Canaweld encourages their customers to call at any time with any problems (an offer that I certainly took them up on). If you are looking for a welder, large or small, you should see what they have to offer and, yes, they ship. And no, I was not paid, nor received any compensation from Canaweld for this endorsement.

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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