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My Car Stinks, Help!

Posted by John Paul  October 31, 2011 05:04 PM

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Q. I own a 2008 Camry, this past summer the drain hose from the moon-roof and air conditioner condenser both clogged up with debris. Needless to say the water backed up into the car and on the rear floor causing puddles of water. Of course I never noticed the water due to it hiding under the rear mats. It took me over two months to find out where the “mold smell” was coming from. The dealer charged me 300.00 to clear out the hoses and was told this is a scheduled maintenance item that should be done every two years. Well the moldy smell continues and the dealer now wants $3500.00 to replace the carpet and the pad to rid it of mold. Have you ever heard of this situation and have any thoughts to rid the car of mold. Never again will I buy a Camry or any Toyota product after this mess.


A. The dealer is correct the best way to solve the problem is by removing and replacing the carpets and mat material. To keep cost down the carpets may be able to be cleaned, disinfected and reused. Regarding cleaning the drains as regular maintenance, certainly it can’t hurt to be done regularly but, it is certainly not required. This problem can happen to any car if the drain becomes clogged with debris.

Q. I have a 1989 Porsche 944 and I was driving down the highway and it stopped running. I pulled off the road and I tried to start it and all I heard was the starter motor, but the engine was not starting. I have had the car towed home, but I have no idea what could cause it to die, can you help?

A. For a gasoline engine to start and run it needs fuel, ignition (spark) and engine compression. Considering the age of the car it could be any number of things. If the basics (fuel and spark) are okay, it is entirely possible the timing belt failed and caused the engine to stop. Be prepared, depending on damage, this could be a very expensive repair.

Q. I have a 1990 Volvo 245 wagon with about 385,000 miles. Wonderful car although in hot weather (I live in California and read your column online) over 90 degrees it has begun to stall out after about 50 miles of driving. The next day, after cooling, it works fine. I've replaced all kinds of parts and will do the ignition coil today. But do you have any other suggestions?

A. Considering the age and mileage almost anything could cause a problem. Although the car is 21 years old it still can be checked for fault codes. Common problems are a faulty fuel pump relay or crankshaft sensor.

Q. I have a Volvo V70, when I start it up; the engine idles very fast for a couple of minutes and then slows down to what I consider to be a normal idle speed. The Volvo manual does not explain why this occurs. What is its purpose? I've never had another car that does this. By the way, I read your column every Saturday and enjoy it very much.

A. All cars have a faster idle when the engine is cold to allow for quicker warm ups for both the engine and emissions systems. At this point it needs to be determined if the fast idle is excessive. Any number of reasons could cause a faster than normal cold idle. I would suggest leaving the car overnight so the technician can experience the same symptoms as you do when you start the car.

Q. It started about a month ago while on the highway I felt my 1998 Ford Ranger misfiring badly. The following day the check engine light came on. I went to a local parts store to have it scanned the code came up as the cam shaft sensor was faulty. I replaced the part now three weeks later I felt a misfire again and the light came back on. I had the trucks computer scanned and it was same code. My first thought was it was faulty part, so I replace the part again. Now the fun begins the sensor lasts about two days and the light is back on each time I would disconnect the battery to clear the codes. I am on my 3rd sensor. Any thoughts as what might be the problem?

A. Since replacing the part solves the miss-fire, you seem to be on the right track. More than likely the wiring to the sensor is the culprit. A careful check with a digital meter should help diagnose and repair the problem.

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