Q: My car is a 2004 Infiniti I35. I had the strangest problem over the weekend. I was going to move forward from a stop sign. I stepped on the gas pedal, and the car didn’t move. The cars behind me were beeping their horns and yelling at me. I didn’t know what to do. I turned off my car, got out and waved the people around me. When I got back into my car, I started it. The check engine light was on, but now the gas pedal worked. The car is driving pretty good, but it seems to have lost power and doesn’t shift the way it used to. Before I bring it to the dealer, I was wondering if you have seen anything like this on an Infiniti.
A: This problem is more common than you would think. If the code is for the throttle position sensor, then in most cases, you will need a remanufactured throttle body assembly. Just about an hour of testing is all that is needed to confirm that this is indeed the problem. Once the remanufactured throttle body has been installed, just a bit of programming is needed. Your car will be as good as new.
Q: My wife drives a 2008 Saturn Outback all-wheel drive with 98,000 miles on it. The car started running rough, and the check engine light came on. I went for a code reading and had codes P0300, P0302 and P0305. I am a bit nervous about this repair due to the fact that all the Saturn dealers are now gone. I am also hearing a knocking noise from my steering column when I turn the wheel slightly left and right. I appreciate any insight you have on this problem.
A: If your car has the original spark plugs, this could cause the problem. Here is the reason: If you look at your owner’s manual and go to the scheduled maintenance schedule, you will see the 100,000-mile service, which clearly requires the replacement of spark plugs. The kicker on this job is that the process of changing the spark plugs requires the intake plenum to be removed before you can take out the coils and the spark plugs. This should resolve the problem as long as the cylinder compression is good and the coils ohm out properly. The knocking noise you hear in the steering is most likely attributed to the power steering rack bushings. There is a technical service bulletin for this problem in the ALLDATA information system. This is a TSB, not a recall, so you will have to pay for the repair.
Car Care Tip: The difference between a recall and a technical service bulletin is as follows: A recall is a procedure mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to the safety of the car being compromised. A recall is paid for by the car manufacturer. A technical service bulletin is a procedure approved by the manufacturer to repair a common problem. But if the car is out of warranty, you are on the hook for the cost of repairs.
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 email@example.com.