Q. I have a 2011 Ford Focus, purchased new; my issue is with the idle. No matter what time of year when I first start the car the engine revs very high. It starts at almost 2000 RPMs and then settle down to about 1000 RPMs. I am concerned that this constant start idle speed will cause un-necessary wear on my car. When asked at the dealership about this issue I was told that the computer controls the idle and there is nothing that can be done. Any comments or suggestions?
A. The idle speed is controlled by the idle air control valve (IAC). The IAC valve us controlled by the power train control computer and determine the desired idle speed. The computer monitors engine RPM and increases or decreases the activity of the IAC to achieve the desired RPM. The engine speed was verified by the dealer it could be completely normal for this engine design and not present any wear issues.
Q. My brother in law owns a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 4.7 liter V-8 engine. Recently it hasn’t been starting right away, taking a couple of tries. The repair shop has changed the fuel pump and crank shaft position sensor. The car has had the engine light and air bag light coming on and off. A mechanic looked for codes but didn’t see any at the time. The engine is very rough at idle, any thoughts?
A. If the air bag and engine light are coming on there are generally codes stored indicating a problem. The poor idle and hard starting could be certainly connected. There are several basic areas to start looking at first. The very first place to start is with the battery. Low battery voltage and poor electrical grounds can cause similar problems. The other issue could be a sticking idle air control motor. This will cause a similar starting issue. A good repair shop with a scan tool, electrical oscilloscope, experience and common should be able to find the problem.
Q. I’ve recently been smelling gas with my 2004 Volvo S80. Mostly along right side, but smell is inside car as well. My online research indicated that this is a problem with the car and Volvo sent out a recall or extended warranty on certain models tied to a leaky/corroded gasket on the fuel pump, although my car was not in the coverage listing. So I was at my dealer and told them about the issue and was quoted $1300 to replace the fuel pump. The dealer said” if we don’t see corrosion around the pump, you won’t have to pay that it could be something else.” The real question: aren’t their other diagnostics that could be done?
A. There are some simple tests that can be used to find a fuel leak. The easiest is to use an exhaust gas analyzer. These tools do a great job of “sniffing’’ out fuel leaks. Although the fuel pump was recalled and was very problematic there could be several other items that could also cause a fuel smell with a nearly nine ear old car such as a leak in the evaporative fuel system.
Q. I have 2007 Honda Accord and I have a problem with the front windshield fogging when it is raining? I am never am quite sure what temperature to have the inside versus what the outside temperature is. I use the air conditioner which works but this time of years the car gets pretty chilly. Is this something that is inherent with Accords?
A. You are on the right track; use the air conditioner with the heat. The A/C will dehumidify the car and the heat will keep you warm. One final thing using the heater in the recirculation setting will tend to cause more humidity and further fog up the windshield.
Q. I just bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT two weeks ago. In general, I like the car but am very disappointed in the gas mileage. The sticker on the car claims 28 MPG city, 39 MPG highway with an average of 32 miles per gallon overall. So far, I am averaging only 26 miles per gallon. Do I need to wait for the engine to break in first? Should I take the car back to the dealer for repairs, what gives?
A. As the engine breaks-in the mileage should improve. Also keep in mind that your own driving habits will have the greatest impact on the overall miles per gallon. Hard starts and driving over the speed limit can dramatically reduce fuel mileage. I recently tested a 2013 Elantra Coupe and was able to average 34 miles per gallon in a mix of mostly highway driving. After the car reaches about 5000 miles and carefully looking at your own driving habits, if your mileage still isn’t satisfactory then I would return to the dealer for a fuel economy test.