Network of wires can have big impact on cars

The interior of a 2007 Mercedes E-class.

The interior of a 2007 Mercedes E-class. (Credit: DiamlerChrysler)

Travel deals

Dear Doctor: I have a 2007 Mercedes-Benz E350 and the Electronic Stability Program warning light came on, indicating "ESP inoperable. I was told the airbag module needs to be replaced. Does the airbag module have anything to do with the ESP being inoperative? – Julius

Dear Julius: Today's vehicles use what is called a CAN network, which means that a few wires work with many systems that are tied together. The technician may need to unplug modules to find the faulty module, and yes, it's very possible the airbag module will shut the system down. Scanning the body control module will usually send the technician in the right direction to test the problem area. If there is a faulty module in the network and it can bring down the entire system that's on that network. In some cases, if the original module can be repaired it may not need to be reprogrammed. – Doctor

Dear Doctor: I just picked up a 2014 Kia Optima EX for my daughter and this car wanders on the road and it's difficult to keep straight. Very annoying. I went to NHTSA web site and read hundreds of the same complaints with no remedy. Any suggestions? – Steve

Dear Steve: When a vehicle wanders we need to look at the tire size and sidewall profile, as well as how wide the tire is. Wide tires with a low aspect ratio will cause wandering because the tire sits wide and flat on the road and will follow the road imperfections. If there was an alignment issue, then the car would pull to either side and you would see tire wear. If both you and your daughter have the same complaint, and you also have read many other complaints from the NHTSA webs site, then you need to print out the complaints and head right back to the dealer. This could be a major problem for the manufacturer. – Doctor

Dear Doctor: We have a one-year old Acura RDX with less than 8,000 miles. As we drive and maintain a certain speed there is a slight vibration that occurs. If we accelerate through these speeds the vibration does not occur. It has been to the dealer twice for this situation. The explanation is that at these speeds the transmission/computer is deciding whether to go from 3 to 4 cylinders or 4 to 5 cylinders. I wouldn't think a brand new car would have this type of annoyance. Any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations? – Tom

Dear Tom: Welcome to the world of cylinder deactivation. This is a common complaint on most car makes. There are aftermarket programmer companies planning to offer computer programs that eliminate cylinder deactivation. These aftermarket companies should have the small handheld programmers available by year's end. On some vehicles equipped with tow or performance mode, once engaged this will usually disengage the cylinder deactivation. – Doctor

Dear Doctor: We own a 2009 Honda CR-V and the build-up of winter's ice and road salt on the windshield has caused the wipers to have stopped working on two occasions. The build-up of ice under the arm and around the stub the wiper attaches to were frozen solid preventing the motor to work. Any ideas or solutions to fix or is this a normal problem for CR-Vs? – Joe

Dear Joe: There is no easy fix other than cleaning away the ice and build up. This is common to a lot of vehicles. The amount of snow and moisture, along with freezing temperatures cause this problem. Just make sure that you shut the wipers off before turning the ignition switch off or shutting off the engine. – Doctor

Dear Doctor: I have a 2006 Infiniti M35x with 65,000 miles. After starting the car, engaging the brake and depressing the button release on the stick, the transmission will not shift out of park.  This occurs when the engine is cold, warm and even when the car is shifted into park, but not shut off. My mechanic said that a solenoid between the brake and stick is bad and he will need to dismantle the center column to replace. I'm concerned that re-assembly of the center column will produce a fit and finish that is less than "factory quality." Do you know of a fix that will not require disassembly of the console? – Blaise

Dear Blaise: Your technician should be able to get to the interlock solenoid to check the solenoid. To remove the center console area to access the interlock solenoid is not a major deal. Your mechanic should be able to take it apart and reassemble without any issues. If you still feel uncomfortable then make an appointment with the dealer. – Doctor

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. E-mail questions for publication to info@motormatters.biz. Mail questions to: Motor Matters, PO Box 3305, Wilmington, DE 19804.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Top Jobs