Question: I'm a senior with a 2001 Buick LeSabre with 73,000 miles. It has a habit of hard starting when the engine is warm.
It went through two independent shops and one dealer. The first replaced the temperature sensor, the air filter, spark plugs, and wires; the second replaced the idle switch, mass airflow sensor, and air temperature sensor, and cleaned the throttle. The dealer replaced the air filter and cleaned the fuel injectors. I still have the same problem.
I'm on Supplemental Security Income and can't afford a new car, let alone being taken for a ride.
- E.Y., Bolingbrook, Ill.
Answer: When is the last time you filled your tank? Some vehicles may still have sufficient winter-blend gas in the tank to cause countless drivability problems when the weather warms up. Since you seem to drive less than 5,000 miles a year, your car might be one of them.
Taken for a ride? We think not. But it bothers us when shops just throw stuff at the car in hopes of fixing the problem. How would they like it if their doctor did the same?
Q: I own a 2015 Honda Accord with 11,000 miles. Recently I noticed the rear backup camera was loose and wiggled when moved.
When I took the Accord to the dealership service department, I was told that the repair/replacement would not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty or the extended protection plan for which I paid extra. They couldn't replace the mount alone; they had to replace the entire camera and mount together.
The service adviser also said they see "a lot of these break. It's due to the car wash." Have you ever heard of rear backup cameras breaking because of going through a car wash?
- P.A., Delray Beach, Fla.
A: Although we are unaware of routine damage due to car washes, that does not mean it could not happen. Although unlikely, careless customers or employees might back the car into the one behind or rear-end the vehicle in front.
Carmakers extensively test nearly everything before releasing the car for sale. They test the outside mirrors, antennas, hoods and trunk lids, and so on. Most subject the vehicles to rain chambers to make sure there are no leaks.
Carmakers consult with car-wash manufacturers to be sure that the wheels and tires will not be damaged by the car-wash guides. Careless drivers in parking lots present a greater problem.
Q: I suspect you'll receive other inquiries like this after a recent letter and your answer: Where is the "black box" located? Can it be disconnected by the consumer? Will it harm the vehicle's computer if it is disabled or removed? Are any laws prohibiting disabling the black box?
- B.R., Crystal Lake, Ill.
A: The event data recorder is often located under the passenger seat or behind the dash. Disconnecting it may impair some other system. Although we are unaware of any federal or state laws preventing it, we would suggest that you don't.
Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976.
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