I own a 1990 Ford Escort with 56,000 miles. It has recently developed a thump that I feel in the floorboard, apparently coming from the front axle. It is especially noticeable when coasting. My dad (more of a car guy than I am) suggested that it might be the CV joints. I recently had the brakes replaced and mentioned it to the mechanic, but he said he wouldn't be able to tell anything without costly disassembly. Whaddya think?
Finally (this may win the award for stupid car questions), is there any fuel economy advantage to shifting into neutral to take advantage of the natural acceleration of a downward slope? (It DOES accelerate when not hindered by the gears.) Is there any structural damage caused by shifting back into DRIVE when traveling this fast?
One quick and easy way to tell if the CV joints are bad is when you do a slow full wheel turn. If you hear any clicking in either direction, then the CV joints needs to be looked at. The next thing to look at would be the boots on the ends of the CV joints. If they are intact and not ripped or torn, then all should be okay. What you might want to look at would be the tires themselves. They might be out of balance causing the thumping that you feel...
As far as the transmission thing, if the car you are talking about has an automatic transmission, then it is not recommended to do this. You see, when you put the car in neutral, the pump stops circulating the fluid. This could lead to premature transmission failure.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
If you have a question for Bob send it to: AskBob@stretcher.com. He's able to answer many of them personally and we'll include the best questions in future issues of The Dollar Stretcher.
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