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Gas Mileage Misread: Fuel System Needs Attention

By Junior Damato, October 12th, 2019

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Ram 2500. The mileage calculator says I'm getting 30 miles per gallon in fuel economy, but I'm actually getting about 20 mpg. What should I do? Mark

Manufacturer photo: 2006 Ram 2500
Manufacturer photo: 2006 Ram 2500

strong>Dear Mark: The gas mileage indicated on the dash cluster may differ on various vehicles -- some more than others. Your vehicle's computer gets the information from the fuel level sensor and then calculates it by the mileage traveled. I recommend you get a new fuel sending unit, or get the fuel system recalibrated at the dealership with a factory scan tool.

strong>Dear Doctor: We live part of the year in south Florida and have air conditioning issues on our 2008 Jeep Liberty. One year ago the dealer installed a new compressor for $1,500. The a/c stopped working recently and the dealer said the evaporator was bad and the replacement would cost $2,100. I have read reports that owning an older car in hot climates where rubber connections can become dried out from the heat can cause slow leakage of refrigerant. What should we do about this issue? Dana

strong>Dear Dana: The worst thing for a vehicle is to sit undriven for long time periods. Whenever possible I suggest you drive it for at least 30 minutes on a freeway to get the engine up to operating temperature. Your Jeep is known to have faulty evaporator cores and leaking condensers. You can have any auto shop charge the system, as well as add stop leak to the system. Even if you have to charge it twice during the season you'd still be saving a lot of money.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2002 Toyota Avalon with 160,000 miles. Since being rear-ended in 2012 I occasionally get a check engine light, which turns off the VSC system. The check engine light always shows the same codes: P0446, P0440, PO441 and P0446. My mechanic has checked the EVAP system and thinks it may be the canister/filter located in front of the gas tank. I can reset the light and it may not come back for six months. I just replaced the gas cap in hopes that is the solution, but I'm concerned since the accident it may be a hose in the canister that got damaged. I would appreciate your input. Alan

strong>Dear Alan: Your codes are all consistent with a canister assembly failure. There are also two other related valves under the hood. There are aftermarket canisters that come with needed switches and valves already mounted on the canister available at many auto part stores. A technician will be able to check the system with a smoke machine and scan tool as well.

strong>Dear Doctor: My wife is interested in the new Toyota RAV4. I was impressed when I test drove a 2019 XLE trim, but was taken aback by the engine/cabin noise. Has Toyota done anything to improve the 2020 and how much quieter would the Hybrid model be? The dealer did not have a hybrid to test drive. Steve

strong>Dear Steve: The tire size on the XLE has a smaller sidewall and can generate a harder ride as well as more road noise. The Hybrid gas engine has less horsepower and different tires. Interior noise will vary by the amount the gas pedal is depressed. I recently spent a week in a 2019 RAV4 and found it to be quiet. I think the new eight-speed transmission is a perfect fit. I suggest you test-drive a few other RAV4 models.

strong>Dear Doctor: The electric vehicle market continues to grow and I'm wondering what you think of the Kia Nero? Jan

strong>Dear Jan: Electric vehicles have come a long way and I have grown to respect the performance in many of these cars. I drove the Nero for one week and found it to be practical, fun, and quiet, with more power than I could have imagined. The power is instant; I turned off the traction control and put the accelerator to the floor. Both front tires started spinning

Why Does Engine Buck with Cold Weather?


Why Does Engine Buck with Cold Weather?

strong>Dear Doctor: We have a 2008 Chevy Malibu that has developed a cold-weather issue. It starts fine, but when the engine is cold and the outside temperatures are below 50 degrees the engine bucks or lurches when slowing for a stop. Sometimes it stalls, and the colder the weather, the worse the problem. Once the engine warms up, the problem goes away. The car seems to run okay otherwise. There are no trouble codes in the onboard computer. Fran

How to Jump-Start: Use a Battery Jump Box


How to Jump-Start: Use a Battery Jump Box

strong>Dear Doctor: I was asked to jump-start a friend's dead/weak battery from my 2015 Subaru Outback, but I said no, fearing it would damage my own battery. But later I read the owners manual and it indicated it would be okay to do so. What are your thoughts on jump-starting a battery from my own vehicle's battery? Jon

What is Proper Tire Pressure for Cold Weather?


What is Proper Tire Pressure for Cold Weather?

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2018 Chevy Cruze equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels and the Tire Pressure Monitor, which is a great feature. The dealership told me to maintain 35 psi in all four tires, but I have noticed with colder weather now, the tire pressure has dropped off to the low 30s, and not every tire has same reading. Is this to be expected? James

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