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Hybrid Car Couldn't Go Up Hill -- Get Battery Tested

By Junior Damato, August 28th, 2010

strong>Dear Doctor: Last Sunday I tried to drive my 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid up Lombard Street in San Francisco. There are two steep blocks before getting to the crooked street part. It was busy, so I had to inch my way up the hill behind other cars. After a little more than the first block, my car just wouldn't go any further. Luckily, the car behind me could back up and I was able to turn around and drive down the hill. Is there anything I can do about it, except not drive up steep hills? Rachel

strong>Dear Rachel: For whatever reason the hybrid battery voltage was too low to move the car. At this point the gasoline engine should have started and there would have been more than enough power to get up the hill. Do you recall if the engine started up? Has the vehicle had all the update campaigns performed? I suggest you get a performance test on both the regular car engine battery and the hybrid battery. There are a few technical bulletins on battery testing. A battery will lose its charge in 10 days or less if the vehicle is not driven. New vehicles sitting at dealerships have a couple of accessory fuses removed to help reduce parasitic drain.

strong>Dear Doctor: My 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo starts and stalls. After about 5 seconds, the power windows won't work and not all of the power door locks work when activated with the remote key fob. I did most of the usual checks and the fuel pump is working with the correct fuel pump pressure and checked the wire connections, but still cannot find a solution. What do you advise? Tony

strong>Dear Tony: These problems are going to require testing. A scan tool is needed to check for trouble fault codes in the computer. Both cam and crank signal sensors are very common issues on this vehicle. The power window wiring goes through the body control module. You will have to take the Jeep to a repair shop that has the equipment to diagnose the system.

strong>Dear Doctor: My wife's 2004 Hyundai Sonata (144,000 miles) occasionally experiences a skip at highway speeds -- a half second where it seems to lose power but then returns to normal. Typically this will occur after driving two to three hours, but at times will happen at shorter driving intervals. It will happen a few times and then go away after decelerating and then returning to speed. Is this some sort of timing issue? Jeff

strong>Dear Jeff: This is not a timing issue. You need to have a close look at the ignition system, including spark plugs coils and plug wires. I always use the factory parts on these cars, as they fit and are priced right. Note: You do have to make sure the timing belt was replaced at the correct maintenance interval.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have an intermittent problem on my 1995 Chevy Corsica with the 3.1-liter engine. I only have 62,000 miles on it and it is in great shape. On occasions when I start the car in the morning the "check engine" light comes on and about 30 seconds to one minute laters it will go off. This problem does not occur every time. I have replaced the oxygen sensor about two years ago and the temperature sensor just recently. What should I do? Steve

strong>Dear Steve: There should be a trouble fault code in memory even though the "check engine" light is not on. There are many possibilities for an engine light to illuminate, but without a scan tool it is impossible to locate the problem.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 Dodge Dakota 3.9L 4x4 automatic with 74,000 miles. I get poor performance when the engine is not up to operating temperature, including backfiring from the engine. I have replaced the IAC, TPS, MAP sensor, and air intake sensor. Each new part has improved performance, but the problem still exsists. When I drive under these conditions it will suddenly "burp" and run fine, until I stop for a traffic signal when all of the problems continue again. When I stop completely and restart the engine, the truck runs like it is brand new! What have I missed? Clyde

strong>Dear Clyde: With the help of Identifix and Alldata we found that on some of these Chrysler vehicles the rear oxygen sensors play a big part in performance, as well as monitoring the catalytic converter operation. I recommend you have a technician monitor all oxygen sensors while on a road-test.

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