Q: I own a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue with 62,000 miles. Lately, I have noticed a drop in acceleration and power on the highway. When accelerating on the highway, the car will downshift more often than before, even if it's not an "aggressive" acceleration. Obviously, this is affecting my gas mileage.
A: Most likely, it's a problem with the catalytic converter being partially blocked. That does not mean to go out and get a new catalytic converter for the car. There is further testing that needs to be done. The same problem could be caused by an erroneous MAF sensor signal or even low fuel pressure. One of the great things about your car is a portion of the testing can be done without opening the hood. A scanner with a talented technician will get a pretty good path of diagnosis just by reading the output numbers. I expect within two hours of diagnostic work, the technician will have the problem nailed, and you will be on your way to getting back a great-running Olds Intrigue.
Q: I own a 2011 Dodge Cabrera. I was told to put in super gas. Is that really necessary? With the price of gas these days, it's very expensive, since I work in Burlington and live in Salem. The car has very little mileage.
A: Since there is no such car as Cabrera, I am going to assume you are talking about a Caliber or Challenger. After having a conversation with the service department at Herb Chambers Dodge, the answer is as follows: Only if your car is an SRT model do you have to use premium gas. All other models are meant to run on regular gas. If indeed you don't have an SRT model, and you are having a problem running your car on regular gas, you should return your car to the dealer for warranty service.
Q: I have a 2001 Ford Escape six-cylinder with a mystery problem that started last year. The car has a very rough idle first thing in the morning. It started as simply running rough until it warmed up; now you have to rev the engine for a while until it is able to run. But until it really warms up well, it will stall at stop signs, red lights, etc. I have tried two Ford dealerships and probably six different fixes: spark plugs, coils (replaced twice), PCM idle fiddled with, lower gaskets replaced. I'm at my wits' end. I love this car, and it only has 137,000 miles. Once the car is well warmed up, it purrs. Oh, and now the check-engine light is on!
A: Wow, what a disaster. You spent so much on unnecessary repairs, it's sickening. You need to get it to a repair facility with knowledge of the Ford system. There is a real good chance it's only an electronic coolant temp sensor. Be clear, I am not ruling out other problems, but an ECT that is out of range will do exactly as you describe. Other sensors will cause issues, as well, but the now-present check-engine light will be a diagnostic aid. I would really like to know if the people you paid money to for these repairs that did not work reimbursed you for the misdiagnosis. Plan to leave it at a quality repair facility that guarantees their work, and your car can be fixed.
Car Care Tip: When you bring your car to a facility for service, you should feel free to ask to see credentials of the technicians working on your car. An ASE-certified technician has shown his or her commitment to excellent and professional auto repair service.
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Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.