Niagara Gazette

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February 28, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Colder weather affects gas mileage

Niagara Gazette — EDITOR’S NOTE: The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom’s Corner will appear in Thursday’s editions. Today’s edition features reader questions and answers.

DON FROM MEMPHIS: I own a ‘07 Honda Accord Hybrid. I’m very pleased with the overall performance of the car, but I am disappointed with poor gas mileage in colder weather. I’m maintaining proper tire pressure. I assume it has something to do with dense air. Can you give me some guidance?

TOM: Don, It has everything to do with the colder temperatures and nothing to do with “dense air.” The performance system senses when the coolant is cold due to colder ambient temps, so it richens the fuel mixture which is necessary to start a cold engine. The fuel mixture stays rich until the engine reaches operating temperature. At this point, the fuel mixture levels out to a normal, leaner mixture for operating temps. Have a scan done of the system to make sure there are no codes. However, I think you’ll find that lower gas mileage is due to the colder weather.

•••

TIM FROM JAMESTOWN: I am experiencing ignition switch difficulties with my Saturn Ion 3. The service engine light flashes, all mechanical engine lights on the dashboard light up, and the car won’t start. After a while, it starts again with no problem. Occasionally, after locking the doors, the horn sounds. I am told that this is a ‘stall code’ and that the ignition switch may have to be replaced. Any advice? Is there a recall for this problem?

TOM: Tim, there is no such thing as a “stall code.” I checked and there are no recalls on your vehicle for this problem. The diagnostic procedure involves scanning the computer for trouble codes and then running the proper pinpoint tests necessary to track down the defective part. Is the ignition switch bad? Possibly, but the cost of diagnosing the problem is cheaper than replacing parts hoping to hit on the right one. The horn going off occasionally when locking the vehicle could be an indication that the alarm system is malfunctioning, so have this checked out. Success to you.

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