A mountain out of a molehill

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1983 Nissan Stanza with 57,000 miles. I have a problem that is perplexing. I hear a squeal from under the hood that lasts a few seconds and then disappears. It seems to squeal on turns and occasionally upon acceleration. It seems most likely to occur in cold weather, and when the car hasn't been driven recently. It never happens after the car is good and warm. It's driving me crazy, but I haven't taken the car to the dealer because I'm afraid they'll make a mountain out of a molehill. Please help.

RAY: Don't worry, Theresa, it's impossible to make a mountain out of this molehill. This is about as easy as they come. One of your belts is squealing. That happens to belts when they get old and "glazed." The part will cost you 15 dollars or 20 dollars, and labor will cost you another 20 dollars. That's it! Pretty simple, huh?

TOM: But actually, while your at it, you might as well change all the belts. If one is gone, chances are the others are about to go. Throw in another 80 dollars and change the other belts too.

RAY: And now that I think of it, since you're approaching the 60,000 mile mark, it would also be wise to put on a new timing belt. Your timing belt may not be making any noise, but it if breaks, you could do serious damage to your engine. The timing belt's kind of expensive, but it's cheap compared to the valve job you'll need if it breaks. Better add another 150 dollars onto the bill.

TOM: Gee, look at that, Theresa. I guess we DID make a mountain out of a molehill!

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