Not So Hot
The heater in my '95 Dodge Ram pickup doesn't work worth a damn. I live in North Dakota, which has some very cold winters. A good heater is a must. I like most other things about the truck, which I bought used. The Ram has the big V-10 engine, which seems to have started running rougher about the same time the heater stopped working right. Could these two problems be related, and if so, what can I do to fix them? I drive about 30 minutes to work in the morning. My garage isn't heated, but it's a whole lot warmer than the driveway. Regardless of how cold it is, I think the engine should be warmed up enough to run smoothly and make the heater work at full capacity before I get to work. I hope you can help me before I freeze to death.
Matt Olsen
Fargo, North Dakota

The most likely cause of both problems is the engine thermostat. An improperly functioning thermostat doesn't allow the engine coolant to reach normal operating temperatures. If hot coolant doesn't flow through the heater core, you won't get heat. An engine that runs cold will most likely run rougher than normal. This problem you're having has surfaced in other '95 V-10-powered Ram trucks. Dodge suggests replacing the existing thermostat with a new Mopar part (PN 53041078). Changing a thermostat is simple, but be sure the engine is completely cooled down and make sure the thermostat is installed right side up. The thermostat should be marked as to which end is up. If not, remember that the larger end (with the diaphragm) faces down toward the intake manifold. The pointed end (relatively speaking) of the thermostat faces the radiator hose. Always install a new gasket and be sure all traces of the old gasket are removed. A less than perfect mating surface will leak.

The Squeaky Spring Doesn't Get the Oil
There's a squeaky noise coming from the front of my '94 Chevy S-10. I'm pretty sure the noise is coming from the front suspension, because it seems related to motion and bumps in the road. I thought maybe the shocks were worn out, so I replaced them. That didn't stop the noise. I had the truck lubed at its last oil change, but again that didn't stop the squeaking. Can you point me toward what might be causing the noise and what I can do to stop it? Thank you.
Bill Baker
Omaha, Nebraska

Based on similar complaints from other'94 S-10 and GMC Sonoma owners, we would suspect the coil spring insulators. If your truck has more than 100,000 miles, these insulators could very well be worn to the point of squeaking. When the insulators get worn out, they rub in the control arm pockets. That's what causes the squeaking noise that you complained about. A way to check if the insulators are the problem without taking anything apart is to spray silicone lubricant on and around the spring insulators. The silicone should temporarily stop the squeaking. If it does, you need new insulators, PN 1598719. GM issued a service bulletin (463302) dealing with this squeaking problem on S-series two-wheel-drive pickups.