Q & A #26 With The Auto Specialist
Since beginning this column, we’ve built a fantastic compendium of automotive knowledge over the past few months. The credit goes to the readers who send in their questions about problems their vehicles are having. If this is your first time reading, be sure to peruse our growing archive. You might find the information you need to resolve an issue you’re having with your car.
Question: I own a 2002 Honda Civic which I bought back when it was brand new. The mileage is currently at 106,700. A few months ago, the air blowing out of my A/C started coming out warm. So, I took my car into a nearby repair garage and had them take a look. They said my refrigerant level was low and needed to be recharged. It seemed simple enough so I had them do it. The air blew cold for a month and a half, but now it comes out warm again. I assume that recharging the air conditioner again isn’t going to fix the problem. What should I do?
Answer: Thanks for sending your question, Tyler. From what you’ve just described, I’ll bet you have a leak in the A/C system somewhere. If you ask the mechanics to add more refrigerant without plugging that leak, you’ll just run low again. Your Civic’s air conditioner has a lot of line in which a leak can develop. The trick is finding it.
Most repair shops have special equipment that lets them send a colored dye through the line. They can then watch the dye on their monitor in order to identify where the leak is located. Once they know where it is, they can fix it. That’s the direction I’d go.
Question: I bought a 1999 Dodge Stratus a few years ago from a guy who hadn’t put many miles on it (the odometer reads just over 62,000). A few weeks back, it started to idle rough on me and now it has trouble accelerating. I took it to a Dodge dealer so they could check it out and they told me the problem was with the fuel injection system. They said two of the four injectors were partly plugged up. Given that I only have 62,000 miles on the car, does that sound right to you? Can fuel injectors plug up this quickly?
Answer: Hi John, thanks for writing in. To answer your second question first, it’s not unheard of for fuel injectors to accumulate sediment. When that happens, they can plug up which would explain the acceleration problem you’re experiencing. In this case, I’m willing to believe the mechanics at the Dodge dealership. Incidentally, off-brand gas can sometimes cause this problem prematurely. If you’re not already using a name brand gas, I’d recommend your doing so.
Thanks again to Tyler and John. I appreciate your taking the time to write in with your car questions. I’m sure they’ll help more than a few readers. As a quick reminder to those of you sending in your questions, please include the make, model, and mileage as well as any pertinent repairs you’ve had performed. We’ll have a new batch of car problems to address next time. Until then, drive safely.