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posted: 4/28/2013 4:05 AM

Dashboard radio screen brightness on the blink

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Q. I own a 2007 Chevy Malibu LE 4 cylinder with 46,000 miles. I love the car except for one thing: the information located in the radio area cannot be read on a bright day. This displays the time, temp, radio station, etc.

On cloudy days it is fine. I have tried adjusting the brightness of the interior lights, which makes no difference. Is there anything that I can do to make the information readable on a bright day?

A. I am not really sure what is going on here with your Malibu. Typically when you have the headlights turned off, or if it is bright out and the auto headlights are off, your dash lights, radio and heater control will be at it's brightest. When the lights are on you should be able to bring the brightness all the way up with the dimmer.

Is the brightness OK on all the other controls? Has it always been like this or did something change?

After a quick search on the Internet it seems several other Malibu owners are having this problem and some have even tried replacing the radio. It sounds like it may be a problem with the programming in the BCM (body control module). It may just need reprogramming, or updating or, worst case, replaced.

Did you ever have the radio replaced? If so, it may not have been properly coded to the vehicle. I suggest you take it to a shop with the ability to reprogram and update the BCM or back to the dealer for some help on this. Good luck and please let us know what fixes it.

Coil springs

Recently we had a Ford Taurus in the shop with a broken coil spring in the front of the car. Because the car is still drivable with a bad coil and customers do not perceive any difference in the way the car handles, they sometimes make the decision not to repair it and keep driving it in this condition.

Our advice has always been that, while you might not notice the problem right now, you are at risk of having the spring come out of the cradle on the strut and damage the tire or worse.

Back to the car that came in the other day. It wasn't a case of ignoring the problem. The customer just didn't know until it broke. When this spring broke it did all the damage that we many times warn other clients can happen. When it broke, it jumped out of its cradle and broke the sway bar link, destroyed the axle boot and ruining the new tire on the car.

We commonly see these broken springs on the last generation Ford Taurus and some of the older Honda Accord and Civics, to name a few. If you ever notice your car leaning a bit in one corner or you become aware of a broken coil spring, I highly recommend you get it repaired so you don't do further damage and incur more expense.

• 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

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