, Salem, MA


June 8, 2013

Driver can't get heat, AC controls to work

Q: I was recently driving my wife’s 2002 Toyota Camry and I could not control the heat or turn on the air conditioner using the dash manual circular temperature control. The auto has 59,000 miles, and is a six-cylinder with an automatic transmission. Is it an easy or expensive fix? Is it the dash controller or the radiator thermostat? Your best price estimate, please.

A: With the information you give me I can only tell you what it isn’t. It is not the radiator, it is not the thermostat. The problem could be as simple as a blown fuse or as costly as a wiring harness. Your best bet would be to drop the vehicle off at a repair facility that uses the ALLDATA information system to trace the problem to the source. Be sure to tell the facility to call you with a price estimate of the repair before making the needed repairs. You should know that whether you decide to make the repairs or not, you are still on the hook for the diagnostics.

Q: Recently the lamp monitor in my ’94 Buick Park Avenue indicated a defective tail light. I have checked them all out and all are working properly. My guess would be that there is a bad ground connection someplace, given the age of the car, but I am told the ’94 Park Ave has only one grounding point for the entire lamp monitoring system, which is located on the driver’s side bulkhead. If this is the case, wouldn’t all the monitor lights be acting up? Any ideas on where to look for a single tail light indication error? I look forward reading your tips and advice every week in the Salem News.

A: First thing I would look for is traces of water in the tail lamp assembly. Next, see if the monitor shows a bulb out with the trunk open. The wiring harness from that year is very fragile and due to the age, it may be splitting.

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