Driveability

Questions about Car Drive-ability. Why is my car hard to drive.

Alicia's Mitsubishi

Q: I have a 2001 mitsibushi galant es. when ever i hit 45 or 50 mph it jerks and sometimes when i park it just cuts off. what could be the problem??

A: Thanks for the submission Alicia. There are a few components that can cause a similar problem. One of them is a transmission issue, a part of the transmission called the torque converter is designed to “lock up” at highway speeds to help out with fuel economy. If the converter gets stuck locked on it can cause the car to stall when coming to a stop. The other main cause that comes to mind is a faulty EGR valve. This component is designed to reduce emissions when the engine is under a load, but if the EGR sticks in the open position at the wrong time it can cause a jerking condition, and or stalling concern. Is the check engine light on? If so this could narrow it down easily. The best bet in this situation is to have a technician drive the car and perform some basic diagnostic tests. Let me know what fixes it. Good Luck!

Summer Driving Tips

Q: Tom, I am taking a car trip with my family this summer, what are some things I should check before we leave?

A: Long car trips for summer vacation can really turn nasty if your vehicle breaks down. We have compiled a short list of things to check out before you take that long awaited trip to the shore.

1. The Cooling System – Take a look at the coolant container under your hood and top it off if necessary. If you need to add coolant more than once in 6 months, or if you smell a sweet burning odor, you probably have a leak. Also, if you can’t remember the last time your coolant was flushed, it’s a good idea to have that done. Dirty fluid can clog parts of your cooling system and cause your vehicle to overheat.

2. Tire Pressure – Be sure you check your tire pressure on all tires and make sure it is in the recommended range. Remember that there is a difference between the maximum pressure listed on the tire and the recommended pressure. Also, for every 10 degrees tire pressure increases by one pound. If your tires were filled in the freezing cold this winter, they may be over pressurized in the summer heat. For those of you packing your car to the brim for vacation its not a bad idea to look for recommended tire pressure for “heavy loads” in your owners manual. If you’re taking a long trip, you should invest in a full-size spare tire if you don’t have one already.

3. The Oil – Driving long distances in excessive heat puts a lot of stress on your motor oil. If you are due for an oil change, don’t wait until after your trip. Oil that has been used for more than 3,000 miles breaks down more easily and can put more wear on your engine. If you are taking a heavy load or towing a trailer, some car manufacturers recommend using a thicker type of oil that is better suited for the heat.

4. The air conditioning – Turn on your AC to make sure you are getting nice cold air out of the vents. If it is not as cold as you remember, it is probably time to have your AC recharged. If you are getting cold air, then your AC system is working and there is no need to get it checked. If your AC is not working and you think you can tough it out, be careful. In some newer cars, the AC is tied to several other components that may not function correctly if the AC is in need of repair.

If for some reason you are not taking your car or truck to Tommy’s Automotive on Bolmar St in West Chester, you can ask your mechanic to check for the following.

1. The cooling system – including the radiator, coolant, belts, hoses, cooling fans, heater core and water pump.

2. Tires – check tread depth, uneven wear and tire pressure.

3. The front end: check ball joints, tie rod ends and steering components.

4. Change the oil. Look for leaks.

5. Check the air conditioning system: refrigerant level, compressor clutch and belts.

6. Check the tranny. Are you close to the recommended service interval? Is the fluid nice and clean? Any leaks?