I have a 2006 Nissan Armada LE, with 122,000 miles on it, and it has developed a "whining" noise when I start it up. It continues while driving at any speed, and my first impression is that it sounds like the transmission is whining. It has never had the timing belt replaced. I've heard it could be everything from the power steering pump to the timing belt to the alternator. Any guesses?

The timing belt schedule will be in your owner's manual. I highly suggest you adhere to that schedule, as a broken timing belt will cause catastrophic engine damage. Regarding the whining noise, the fluids should be examined in the transmission, as well as in the power steering system for cleanliness. All of the fluids in your car should be cleaned and refreshed at some point in the car's life, with the exception of what are called lifetime fluids. To isolate the whining noise, a stethoscope can be used to locate the source of the problem. Most likely, the noise is coming from the front pump of the transmission, and a BG transmission flush may just be the ticket to quiet it down.

My mother just bought a 2004 Saturn Vue with 57,000 miles on it. She had the car for two weeks, and the car has on three occasions bucked. One night, I was driving it and the car started to buck and I was barely able to get the car pulled over. I shut the car off, re-started it, and put it in drive. My foot was on the gas and the car would not move. We had the car towed, and the tech person said there was nothing wrong with the car. As I pulled out of the garage, the car bucked again on the highway and then almost stalled out. Any suggestions? My mother is afraid to drive it.

Your first item is to find a shop that is willing to take the time to test your car. The repair shop should realize the car is there for a problem. If the problem is over their head, there are other shops that might have stronger diagnostic skills. This problem can be starting at the ignition switch or even at the fuel pump. Your description could even be a catalytic converter problem. There is no one common issue noted with this car that will cause the problem you describe. If you need a list of quality shops in your area, shoot me off another e-mail and I will supply you with a few names.

I have a 2001 Ford Explorer XLT which has been giving me a problem with starting. Every so often, the vehicle will turn over but not start, and the theft light blinks. Most times, I can wait a short while or walk away and come back, and it starts. Sometimes, I have to leave it and come back the next day. I'm pretty sure I'm using the original key. Obviously, this unreliability is not good for my job. Any ideas?

There are two things you can do. First of all, use your other key and see if the problem goes away. If the problem is still there, I would say you have a problem in the ignition switch or the anti-theft module.

Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears Sunday in Wheels. Write to Larry c/o The Eagle-Tribune, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845, or send e-mail to scanauto@aol.com.

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