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posted: 2/6/2012 12:01 AM

Doug McAllister/Under the Hood: Putting off repairs a risky business

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When I drove into the shop the other morning there was a car sitting in the parking lot with its right front end fallen down on the tire. That's a clear sign of a blown-out ball joint.

I recognized the car. We had done some suspension work on the other side about six months earlier. Upon further evaluation, I learned that, in fact, we had done the left ball joint. We had also recommended strongly the right side be replaced as well. The work was declined by the client and he headed off only to face the danger of bad suspension and the expense at some future date. Turns out that date came up rather quickly.

Had the client done the job when we suggested, they would have saved a possible serious accident, a tow and the body damage to the fender where the car fell on the tire.

Many of the components on a car have a duplicate part on the other side and in many cases it is best to replace them at the same time.

As I've said on many occasions, "Find a mechanic you trust and trust your mechanic."

Doctor's note about headlights

Obviously I answer questions in this column from a mechanical perspective but as I learned this week that may not be the whole picture. Last week's column prompted this note from Dr. Linda Murray from Vista Linda Eye Care in Mount Prospect:

I read your informative response to a reader's question about bright headlights. Another possibility is that the driver may be experiencing early symptoms of cataracts. They sneak up on us as we age because they usually grow very slowly. However, in their early stages they often elicit difficulty looking at bright lights along with halos and streaks around oncoming headlights and streetlights.

The good news is that today's surgical techniques are very effective at solving the problem and most patients are back to their regular routine in a few days.

Many eye doctors offer free consultations to determine if a thorough exam for cataracts (and other possible problems) is necessary.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to