Car Care with Mechanic Ralph

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In a new monthly feature, Ralph the Mechanic will be sharing his vehicular expertise with St. John Tradewinds readers. Please send any car or car maintenance related questions to editor@tradewinds.vi and Ralph will take time to share his educated advice.

Mechanic Ralph:
Every time I start my car, it makes a loud squealing noise. It eventually goes away, but it’s really annoying and embarrassing whenever I start my car. I think it might be a belt, but how do I check which one it is and how difficult are they to replace?

Ralph responds:
The squealing is normally caused by a worn or loose alternator belt on vehicles with individual belts. On vehicles with one belt, it could be a worn or a bad belt tensioner. The repair is very simple and new belts are not expensive.

Mechanic Ralph:
The inside of my tires always wear out faster than the outside. It can be deceiving because the tires will look fine but won’t have the tread and a closer look reveals the inside rim with wires exposed. Why does this happen and how can I avoid it?

Ralph responds:
Worn tires can be caused by different conditions. These are just a few: improper tire pressure; worn wheel bearings; worn suspension parts; and improper alignment. It would be best to take your car for a front suspension inspection at your local repair shop.

Tip of the Week:
It is always good to check your fluid levels weekly. This includes checking the tire pressure. Proper inflation is important in preventing tire blow-out and premature wear. Something as simple as a tire pressure gauge could save money on tires and gasoline.

Note: All advice given is to the best of Ralph’s ability and he is not liable for any damages incurred as a result of  tips or answers in this column.