, Salem, MA

January 5, 2013

Change the air filter in 5-year-old Chrysler

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Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: Larry, I have a 2007 Chrysler 300 six-cylinder. When the temperature goes below 20 degrees when you first start the car, the engine sounds like it’s bogging down. When you rev the engine, it’s real loud. After the car warms up, it’s quiet as a mouse. No check-engine light or any other lights come on at all. It almost sounds like it’s starving for air. I haven’t changed the air cleaner since I’ve owned the car. Could that be the problem?

A: That’s a scary letter to start off the new year. You have a 5-year-old car that you have never changed the air filter? First, change the air filter. If the noise is still there, we must determine if the noise is coming from a cracked exhaust manifold, or one of the belt-driven appliances hanging off the front of the engine. There have been known issues with the exhaust manifold, and it will indeed be noisy on startup and then quiet down as the metal expands due to the car warming up. If the manifold is cracked, it may be due to an improper air fuel mixture from a clogged air filter. Not to mention how much gas you have wasted because of the clogged filter. In your glove compartment, there is a maintenance schedule. If you have lost it, shoot me an email with the maintenance service you need in accordance with the mileage that’s on your car.

Q: My wife and I both own 1994 Cadillac Eldorados. We purchased them both about 11 years ago. This past October, my wife went to a local repair shop for an oil change and an inspection sticker. They changed her oil but did not give her an inspection sticker. Reason was the red air-bag light was on. We were informed that this repair involved taking the steering column apart to access the air-bag components, and possibly take the dashboard apart. She immediately took the car home and drove it for about two days, and the red light went out. My wife returned to the repair shop again for a sticker, but they refused her a sticker, saying that there was a problem and it should be repaired. They would not give her a sticker. She went to another station and got a sticker with no problems at all. Why do you think that between the two cars that we each drove for 11 years, this has never happened except on the day my wife went for a sticker? The air-bag light in my wife’s car still operates normally to this day exactly the same as the one in my car does. I would love to hear your opinion on this matter.

A: On your wife’s car, she had a momentary issue with a circuit for her air bags. It could be anything from a dirty ground to a wet relay or a crash sensor issue. The problem with the ’94 cars were their computers. They were not close to being as sophisticated as the computers in today’s cars. Once the light went out, the memory of the code is gone. If the light comes on when you turn the key or start the engine and goes out within five seconds of starting, then the air-bag system is working now.

Car Care Tip: Your car has system lights on the dashboard. When you turn on your key, before you start your engine, make sure they are all lit. A system that has a light out may be malfunctioning.


Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to