Dear Car Talk:
I have a 2008 Honda Civic. Recently when idling, I've noticed a chattering noise coming from the left side of the engine compartment. Also, my headlights and map lights flicker.
Could it be a belt or alternator? -- Clark
Yes. And by the time you read this, Clark, you may have already been towed in for a new alternator.
My guess is your alternator is failing. You probably have a diode or two in the alternator's rectifier that are on their way out.
Your lights are flickering because the alternator isn't producing a steady stream of electricity. But don't worry about the flickering lights. As soon as the alternator dies, the flickering will stop, too.
Unfortunately, once the alternator dies, your battery will discharge and the car won't run. A shop with the right equipment ought to be able to test your alternator and confirm that its output is low. If so, replace it.
Dear Car Talk:
I just bought a 2022 Ford F-150 Hybrid. I love it, but since I'm replacing a 2011 F-150, the new technology is daunting.
I was looking forward to sitting in front of the fire with a cocktail and reading my owner's manual when I discovered that Ford doesn't provide a hard copy manual anymore, and it's only available on the beautiful, enormous screen on my dashboard.
So now I have to sit in my pickup and read the manual online! Not a fan! What if my battery goes dead, and I need the manual? Is there any way to get a good old-fashioned hard copy owner's manual? -- John
I think I remember Emily Dickenson writing about sitting by the fire with a good owner's manual.
Would you settle for an iPad, John? You can find your owner's manual at www.ford.com/support/owner-manuals/. You can download it, and if you really want to, you can then print it out. You can even have it leather bound if you want.
You can also bookmark it, so you can always get it on your phone in an emergency.
If you love your old car and love public radio, when the time comes, donate that old car to your favorite station. They’ll turn the proceeds into great news and information programming. Here's how.