Letters: Fault codes can pinpoint reason for warning lights
BY IRA SIEGEL For Sun-Times Media March 27, 2012 3:11PM
Q: The traction and brake lamps illuminate after driving my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe for a while. I don’t understand because the brakes seem to be working just fine. What do you think could be wrong? — Barbara, email
A: Even though the brakes seem to be working OK, the antilock and traction control functions likely aren’t working due to their warning lamps being illuminated. There could be a faulty relay, sensor or electrical connection somewhere in the system.
A technician will need to connect a scan tool and check for codes. Reading these fault codes and following the diagnostic procedures associated with these fault codes will help the technician pinpoint the source of the problem.
Q: My 2008 Chevy Aveo sometimes jumps while sitting at a red light. Could this be bad gas or could this be something more serious? — Trinklette, email
A: I doubt it’s due to the gasoline. Your Aveo could be suffering from a dirty throttle housing or problematic throttle motor. Have a technician inspect the throttle housing and check to see if there are any codes.
Q: I own a 1999 Chrysler 300M with 140,000 miles. In the past nine months, the fuel pump, fuel pump relay, alternator, serpentine belt, crankshaft sensor, battery and spark plugs have been replaced. Still, the car has three problems.
The first problem is that the car will not start at times. When this happens, everything electrical in the car seems to be working, but the engine will make no sound when turning the key to the start position. Originally I was told this was due to the battery. Now they tell me it’s the starter. What do you think?
The second problem is with the dashboard lights. They usually come on when I turn the headlights on, but at times the dashboard lights flicker or turn off. Nobody has been able to resolve this issue.
My third problem is in regard to the engine feeling like it’s going to stall when I come to a stop. The engine has never actually stalled but it feels like it’s about to, kind of like a hiccup. What do you think could be causing this? — Margaret, email
A: The intermittent no-start problem is likely due to a bad starter motor. The dashboard lamp problem could be due to a poor electrical connection, faulty dimmer switch or faulty instrument cluster. A technician should check to make sure the headlamp switch and dimmer switches are functioning properly. Because the body control module monitors these circuits, the technician should be able to check the functionality of these switches with a scan tool. If the switches are OK, it’s possible that either the BCM or instrument cluster is causing your trouble.
In regard to the engine feeling like it’s going to stall, it’s possible that the throttle housing is dirty and/or the idle air control motor could be faulty. A technician should inspect the throttle housing and clean it if necessary. If the throttle housing is clean and the problem persists, I’d suspect that the IAC motor is beginning to fail.
Questions for Ira Siegel? Call the Auto Advisor Hotline at (708) 633-6839 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Siegel is an automotive instructor and an automotive service excellence-certified master auto technician.
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