SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

June 28, 2014

Auto Scanner: Gas gauge driving owner crazy

Q: I have a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer LT 4WD. It has about 50,000 miles on it. I have recently begun having problems with the gas gauge (and also the digital display of mileage left before gas is needed). Both read empty (0 miles left — low fuel) when the tank has just been filled. In fact, the gauge reads empty for several miles after fill-up. Then it will sporadically jump around between empty and full while I am driving. It goes up and down all day long. It’s enough to make you crazy. So I have no way of knowing when I actually need gas, except to set the trip meter and fill up when I reach 200 miles. Any idea what is causing this?

A: Most major repair facilities have scanners that link to your car’s computer. With this scanner they will be able to monitor the signal from your fuel tank, and also be able to emulate a signal to your instrument panel. This is how the problem is isolated. Expect to spend one to 11/2 hours for diagnostic costs to be able to nail down the problem. The cost of the repair itself, of course, is dependent on which component has the problem.

Q: I have a 2001 Acura MDX with about 130,000 miles. My husband thinks we should replace the water pump and the timing belt as a precautionary measure at this time. Do you agree?

A: I agree with your husband. A timing belt with 130,000 miles and over 10 years old is subject to breakage. Your engine is an interference engine, and valve damage could result if and when the timing belt breaks. I would suggest at the same time you replace your drive belts and your water pump and have a coolant flush.

Car Care Tip: While driving home the other night, I glanced over at cars near me on Interstate 95 in the Topsfield area. Seven of 10 drivers that I passed or that were near me had cellphones to their heads, and they clearly were not giving full concentration to their driving. To those that need to talk on the phone while they drive, consider a Bluetooth device. Your cellphone retailer will be able to help you hook it up.

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 scanauto@aol.com.

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