Question: I have been told by the dealership that my 283,244-kilometre 2009 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL needs a timing chain and it will cost me $2,500 (parts and labour). Considering the year, is it worth replacing or should I just cut my losses? Also, can I trade it in as is? Do you think the dealership will accept it? — Rudo
Answer: The repairs seem expensive but you have to ask yourself a few questions first. What condition is the rest of the vehicle? If the body is good, with no rust, and the tires, brakes and suspension are good, then it is likely worth repairing. The money you would spend on repairs is only a few monthly payments on a new vehicle. I have seen many of these vehicles with over 300,000 km on them and still going strong. If the rest of the vehicle is in poor condition, then it would probably be better to consider another vehicle.
As for the dealership taking it in on a trade-in, if it is currently running, I am sure they will take it but don’t expect to receive much. Dealerships are typically looking for vehicles less than seven years old and with less than 80,000 km as premium trade-ins. Older and higher mileage vehicles that are taken as trade-ins are sold to smaller second-hand car lots. Once or twice a year, some of my local dealerships have a “push, pull or drag” sale where they will give you a $1,000 trade-in for any complete vehicle you can get to the dealership. This may be an option for you, but if you feel comfortable, you may be able to get more value from your car by selling it privately or selling it for parts.
Without evaluating the car overall, I can’t give you exactly the answer you are looking for, but by asking yourself about the true condition of the rest of the vehicle and comparing it to the cost of buying another vehicle, I am sure you will make the correct choice.
Question: With the recent cold weather, I have been plugging in the block heater on my 2013 Chevy Silverado pickup. It starts fine but now the check engine light comes on and when I read the code it refers to a faulty coolant temperature sensor. I changed the sensor but the code keeps coming back. I don’t have any problem if I don’t plug in the vehicle but when I do, it sets a code. Can you help me figure out how to keep this from happening? — Tim
Answer: I have run across this problem several times on GM vehicles and it is related to the block heater, not the coolant temperature sensor. Several years ago, GM started using block heaters with a temperature sensor on the power cord.
With the block heater plugged in, the temperature sensor would turn on the block heater when temperatures dropped below about -18 C. If temperatures were above that, the block heater turned off. This occurs automatically and is controlled by the temperature sensor disc located in the plug end of the block heater cord.
I suspect that either the temperature sensor in the block heater cord is faulty or you have replaced the cord end with a standard male electrical plug. When this happens, the engine warms up more than the engine computer is programmed to expect. When you start the engine, the computer compares temperature sensors for coolant, outside air and transmission fluid.
If there are differences in the readings and the vehicle has been not running for several hours, the computer will set a trouble code, usually for the coolant temperature sensor because the coolant is warmer than expected. Some owners who have installed auxiliary coolant heaters also experience this problem.
You can use a timer to limit the amount of time the block heater is operating so the coolant temperature doesn’t get too high, but it is probably easier to replace the block heater cord with a factory replacement unit.