Dear Doctor: I brought my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee to the dealer and it was determined that there was a broken wire in the harness of the driver's door. The wire was fixed, and I got a new remote, and all worked fine for a year. Now, the remote key is only working from the passenger's side -- and in some instances when it rains the door the alarm goes off when using the remote. Also I have noticed that the battery gauge is slightly to the left of center. Any thoughts on what these issues are? -- Joe
Dear Joe: The first step when working on late model vehicles with electrical issues, such as the key fob and battery, is to scan the computer and body control modules. It sounds like there could be a connection problem. Regarding the door, it's very common for broken wires between the car body and door to occur, as the wires flex every time the door opens and closes.
Dear Doctor: I have a 2006 Lexus 400h with 55,000 miles. This hybrid vehicle was averaging about 23.4 mpg, but now without any change in driving habit (local roads) it has dropped to 22.4 mpg. Could it be the hybrid system? -- AJ
Dear AJ: Many factors play a role on gas mileage. One that most drivers never think of is the gas formulation. Tire pressure, tire tread design, engine oil, heat and humidity also play a role. The electronics, oxygen sensors get lazy and do not respond quickly and neither do spark plugs. It might be time for a spark plug, air filter change, along with a very close look at the oxygen sensors and air ratio sensors.
Dear Doctor: I have a 2002 Chevy S10 pickup truck 4WD with the 4.3-liter engine. Both the orange and red brake lights come on at times, not always. So far the brakes seem fine. What could this be? -- Don
Dear Don: I can tell you that we've had to remove GM dash clusters and send them out for internal repairs for light, speedometer, odometer and gauge problems. Has anyone checked for body fault codes? Without more information it would be hard to point you in the right direction.
Dear Doctor: I pressed the accelerator of my 2012 Toyota Camry (four-cylinder) to merge onto the parkway. The engine revved hard, but the car did not accelerate at all. It was as if the transmission went into neutral. I pulled onto the ramp's shoulder and turned off the ignition. Toyota service could not diagnose or reproduce the problem, saying there is no code for this problem. I no longer trust this car to accelerate appropriately and am considering a new car. What should I do? -- Thomas
Dear Thomas: The transmission is a six-speed automatic and sometimes does not shift as quickly as I would like. With that being said, the four-cylinder Camry gets 34-plus mpg on the highway. My wife put 4,000 miles on a pre-owned four-cylinder 2012 Camry without a complaint. It does sound like the transmission got confused between gears and went into a free wheel position like neutral. Get the dealer to document your complaint on a service order.
Dear Doctor: On the day I picked up my new 2012 Acura TL I told the dealer about a very annoying rattle coming from the passenger's door. I have gone to this dealer 4 times already and each time they tell me that the rattle is gone. Yet it is still there. Do you know of anybody that can fix this issue? -- Dave
Dear Dave: A body shop would be a good place to start. I have removed many door panels to eliminate rattles, from a linkage like a metal rod to a placing a piece of foam between the plastic inside door panel that can rub against the metal door frame.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2010 Subaru Forester and on short trips I notice there's a lot of water guzzling in the muffler and spitting out. I can't find any leaks. I'm also losing a little antifreeze. Is there a problem with the head gasket? -- Jack
Dear Jack: Some water dripping from the exhaust is normal. The water is a byproduct of the internal combustion engine. I have seen some vehicles have small amounts of coolant usage. As long as we are not talking about a gallon between oil changes or smoke out the tailpipe there is no reason to be concerned. Subaru did have a problem with faulty head and head gaskets many years ago.
-- Junior Damato, Motor Matters
Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347