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Your Car: All Pumped Up

Q: A few months ago the water pump in my 1988 Accord began leaking. I had a new one put in, but two weeks later the new pump began leaking. To make a long story short, I just had pump number six installed. Does the lemon law apply to individual parts? What can I do to get this problem fixed permanently?

Syracuse, Utah

A: Lemon laws vary from state to state but are meant to cover entire new cars, not individual parts. Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection says, "The Lemon Law applies to new cars under warranty and was extended in 1990 to also cover new leased vehicles and motor homes." Although a replacement part may come with a warranty, the lemon law would not apply—even to a collection of faulty water pumps as large as yours. Having a water pump go bad happens. To lose two of them isn’t unheard-of. But having six go bad might interest the editors of Guinness World Records. One possible cause for so much failure is improper installation; you might go to a different shop for the next one. You’ll find the locations of AAA-approved repair shops at Click on Find Approved Auto Repair. The only other suggestion would be to try a different brand of pump.

Q: When the coolant light in my 2003 Tahoe came on; the dealer pressure tested the cooling system and found no problem. I have been back twice because the light keeps coming on and I must top off the coolant reservoir each month as the level sinks to a quarter low. But still the dealer can find no leak. Do you have any ideas?

Gilroy, California

A: Since a pressure test shows nothing, the likeliest escape route is a very slow leak, perhaps in the heater core, behind the engine block, or from a freeze plug. There are two good techniques mechanics at a repair shop can use to find even a stealthy leak. The first is to put dye into the coolant, run the car, and then start looking at all the suspected spots using an infrared light, which causes the dye to glow. An alternative method is to drain all the coolant and put smoke into the system, then see where it seeps out.

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