Q. I have a 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer with almost 120K miles. Recently, the Check Engine light came on, and I took it to my mechanic. He checked the car and could not find anything wrong, and turned off the light. A few days later, the light came back on and stayed on. I replaced my old gas cap with a new gas cap thinking there might be a vapor leak. However, I’ve driven the car at least 10 times since replacing the cap and the light is still on. Help!
A. If the check engine light is on, the car should generate a code that should help with the diagnosis. Just turning off the check engine light never fixes a problem. Now that the light is on, have a technician scan the car’s computer, read the codes, and suggest a repair and finally verify the car was repaired.
Q. My 2010 Volvo XC70 has an issue where the battery drains if the car remains unlocked for 3—4 days. The car is always kept in our locked garage, so I am not used to doing this. For reference, I have never locked any other vehicle while it was in the garage. Since this car isn’t always used, the battery has drained 4 times since we purchased the car, each time requiring a jump start. The dealership said this is common for Volvos. I find this unacceptable. Any advice?
A. I would find it totally unacceptable for a car’s battery to go dead after only sitting for several days. Although cars today are full of power hungry electronics, even after three weeks of inactivity I would still expect the car to start. The battery in this car according to Volvo should, under normal condition, be able to last two months with even a small electrical drain. A more likely issue is a software bug in the central electronic module that is not shutting down a relay after the car is turned off.
Q. I’ve been looking at new cars recently and I am really interested in cars with the keyless entry and ignition feature. You seem to have some reservations about it, from people not realizing the car is still on to a few other mentions of thieves cracking security codes. Is this something I should be concerned with?
A. I think keyless start is a great feature, although I did take a little time to warm up to it. I have seen and heard about people that walk away from their cars with the engine running or leaving the car on-in the accessory position. As long as the driver uses a little common sense, this technology works great. Regarding security and hacking, I wouldn’t let that be a concern.
Q. I have a 2001 Chevy Malibu with an anti-theft problem that is a known problem to Chevy. The anti-theft system does not recognize the key so the car will not start and the anti-theft light keeps blinking. From what I understand, there is no easy fix. I have been left stranded alone and it is quite frightening late at night. You have to wait 10 minutes for the light to stop flashing and then pray it starts. Why is there not a recall on this major safety problem?
A. This is a fairly common problem with many GM vehicles. The ignition lock incorporates an antitheft feature, if the lock/ignition switch doesn’t recognize the key, the car won’t start. The fix involves replacing the lock assembly. The cost of the repair should be in the $400-$500 range. Regarding recalls, cars become recalled due to voluntary reporting by the manufacturers, or problems reported to NHTSA. You could certainly file a report on the NHSTA website. www.nhtsa.gov