Niagara Gazette


February 28, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Colder weather affects gas mileage


Niagara Gazette — •••

RALPH FROM WEST HEMPSTEAD: I own a ‘06 Hyundai Elantra with very low mileage. I heard a noise when backing up, and found out I had to change all the brake pads and reface all four rotors. Is there anything I could do to have Hyundai bare the cost?

TOM: Ralph, Hyundai will not help with this cost because brakes are considered a wearable item. Brakes are expected to wear out and therefore not covered under warranty. There is one exception … if the brakes wear out due to a faulty part like a master cylinder or pressure equalization valve, which IS covered under warranty. In the case of such a part failing, then the brake pads may be affected as a result and thus covered under the warranty.


LAUREN FROM OIL CITY, PA: I have a problem with my ‘96 Dodge Caravan. The vehicle acts as if it has run out of fuel. When this happens, I have to pull over and shut it down for about 10-15 minutes. Then I am on my way again. I had the fuel filter replaced after the first incident, but it keeps happening. After several more incidents, I had the fuel pump and ignition module replaced, but it still happens. However, I’ve discovered a pattern that may help diagnose the problem. This problem usually occurs when it’s very cold outside, after driving a certain distance (about 30 miles), and when the gas tank is down to between half and three quarters full. Lately, I have been filling up when the tank is down to three quarters. Could there be water in the gas tank (I’ve added dry gas several times)? Could it possibly be the type of gas I use?

TOM: Lauren, if I were pressed to describe your diagnostic technique in a phrase, I would describe it as “Squirrel Automotive Diagnostic Technique” because you seem to flit to and fro without rhyme or reason, replacing parts and coming up with new diagnostic scenarios. Based on what? Moon phase? Dreams? Drivability problems like you are describing can only be diagnosed one way ... by a computer scan of the system. In addition, you might want to have a flight test performed so the tech can see exactly what is going on at the time of the failure. Finally, a fuel delivery analysis is in order as well, to make sure there is no drop in fuel pressure. This is the most efficient and effective way to accurately pinpoint the problem. To indiscriminately replace parts hoping to fix the problem is a waste of time and money. I wish you success.

‘Til next time … Keep rollin.’

"America's Car Show" with Tom Torbjornsen airs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday on WBBZ-TV.

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