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Culprit for Occasional Hesitation Problem is in Engine

By Junior Damato, August 14th, 2010

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2005 Toyota Corolla with a 5-speed transmission with 40,000 miles. Every now and then it has a hesitation when first starting out. It doesn't matter whether it is a warm day or a cold day. Revving the engine sometimes stops it. When it is in one of these periods, it reduces the gas mileage by a gallon or more. The dealer ran tests and can't find anything wrong with it. A few months ago I answered an online survey by Toyota. One of the questions alluded to hesitation and I explained my problem. I never heard anything back from them. Is this one of those "live with it" things? Mary

strong>Dear Mary: There are no common causes for your occasional hesitation complaint. With the manual transmission if there is any engine miss or hesitation you will feel it. For the engine to have this problem and the loss of 1 mile per gallon, I would look at the EGR valve for not closing fully. If it were a fault of an input sensor, such as mass air meter or oxygen sensor, then the computer would set a fault code. I have seen a lot of troublesome coolant sensors that can cause multiple problems without setting fault codes.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2005 Lexus ES 330 that I purchased pre-owned from a Lexus dealer in 2008. I noticed after I bought the car there is a creaking sound that appears to be coming somewhere behind the glove compartment when the car is moving. I brought the car several times to the dealer but the technicians always claimed they never heard the noise. My private mechanic acknowledged the noise and said that he would have to disassemble the airbag to locate the problem, requiring several labor hours and hundreds of dollars just to locate the problem. This seems like a very expensive matter. What do you suggest? William

strong>Dear William: There is no history of your creaking sound. If the sound is deep in the dash, then it could take time to locate the source. Try a simple glove box removal, and have someone else drive the car while you try to pinpoint the source of the creaking. If the noise were plastic-related then it would be worse when cold and should disappear when hot by the sun softening the material. You can also try shimming any suspect areas with small pieces of plastic.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Mercury Sable with 78,000 miles. I change the oil every three months. I took it for a short trip and both the ABS light and the oil pressure light simultaneously came on. I replaced the oil pressure-sending unit with an OEM replacement and the lights still remain on. There is no value noise, no temperature increase and no "check engine" light illumination. I checked for blown fuses and could not find any. The instrument cluster works fine except for those two lights. The ABS module was replaced a year ago. Could an ABS fault trigger the oil pressure light to come on? Tom

strong>Dear Tom: The first step is to check for any ABS trouble fault codes and brake fluid level in the reservoir. Low brake fluid will set the brake and ABS lights on. A faulty reservoir sender float is not unusual. The next step is to check the actual oil pressure with a mechanical gauge. In the last month I have replaced three dash clusters in both Taurus and Sable models. There is an electrical circuit problem inside the cluster. The removal and replacement is an easy repair. If the problem is the dash cluster, then you can have it repaired or purchase a used cluster from a salvage yard. There is no reason why the ABS and oil pressure lights would come on simultaneously.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am the original owner of a 2004 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE that has 147,000 miles. This car has always been serviced by the book by my local mechanic. Recently, the car (only occasionally) downshifts with a "lurch" when slowing. Upshifting is never a problem. Once in a while when I put it in gear it takes a second or two for the transmission to engage (both forward and reverse). There are no trouble codes or engine lights on. The transmission was serviced at 60,000, 120,000, and 135,000 miles. Where do you suggest we look to define and/or correct this problem? Ed

strong>Dear Ed: There are no history faults with this problem. Have the transmission shop check for 1 TSB on the transmission. Second, make sure the correct transmission fluid has been used when the fluid was changed. The delay in gear engagement usually is connected to low transmission line pressure. There are some transmission fluid additives that can reduce harsh shifting, both up and down shifts.

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