Q: For the past few years, the brakes on my ’99 Plymouth Breeze have squealed when I use them during the first few miles of driving. The dealer tells me it’s normal, but I’ve never owned a car with brakes this noisy. Is the dealer right?
A: Probably. If the brakes have been inspected and found to be safe, their occasional song isn’t necessarily a sign to the contrary. Noise from cold brakes is fairly common. Ambient moisture that forms dew can contribute, as can variation in the com-position of brake pads and shoes. The material is a mix of ingredients, and the formula varies from maker to maker. When a car that used to stop quietly gets new pads and shoes, it can also acquire the ability to create a resonant tone akin to that of an alto saxophone—a sound sometimes loud enough to inspire raised eyebrows among pedestrians. There are two approaches to this situation, aside from turning up the radio: Live with it or next time try a different brand of pads or shoes.
Q: I have a new Toyota Tundra with the 4.7-liter engine. I have heard that I should change the engine oil after the first 1,000 miles to get rid of any metal shavings or pollutants. A friend told me to wait longer, while the owner’s manual says to have the oil changed every 5,000 miles, with no mention of the initial oil change. When is the best time for me to change the oil?
Elk Grove, California
A: Perhaps no other automotive topic inspires the diversity of fervently held opinion and the take-no-prisoners attitude toward dissenters that changing oil does. But it’s safe to say that many manufacturers no longer require an early oil change in new vehicles. Years ago, the first few hundred miles of driving doubled as the final stage of machining for the engine. The resulting tiny bits of metal would leave the engine with the first oil change, which typically came at 1,000 miles. Machining has become more precise; most engines now emerge from the factory ready for normal use. Follow the oil-change schedule in the owner’s manual for severe service, a term carmakers use to describe the way most of us drive.
This article was first published in January 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.