QUESTION: I am looking online at many gas-saving devices. They all make claims on substantial gas mileage increase. Have you tried any of these devises?
ANSWER: If any of these devices worked, the companies would give them out to automotive journalists to test and report on. Do not buy any of this junk – online or from infomercials.
QUESTION: I am interested the new Lexus CT200h. I have seen many TV commercials on this car and would like your opinion on this car.
ANSWER: I recently spent a week in this car, and I would say it is not a sports car but is an excellent four-person car that also has cargo room. Our test car drew attention every place it was parked. It seems the power of TV advertising works. The interior layout is very ergonomic for the driver. Every control is at the driver’s fingertips. Vision from every viewing point is unrestricted. Power is not what you would expect from a hybrid.
There is a noticeable power increase in the sport mode. The car drives very smooth and there is no lack of power, fuel economy 43 city, 40 highway. Leather seats were very comfortable with multiple adjustments. The front heated seats were quick to heat. In the snowbelt area, heated seats are a must with leather. Our test car only had 800 miles and my average mileage was 38 mixed driving, sometimes aggressive. The car was also very quiet both on rough and smooth pavement. Bottom line, this is what you would expect from Lexus. Base price $30,900. As tested with premium audio, leather package, navigation, $36,725.
QUESTION: I am the original owner of a 2009 Sonata and no one but myself drives it. In late December 2010, I started having problems with “hard downshifting.” At first I thought it was my brakes, but shortly thereafter the problem stopped. Then in February 2011, it started again and got progressively worse. April 7, it was so bad that I thought for sure I would break down on the way home. When I looked online, I found that this appears to be a common problem with the 2009 Sonata. The service advisor at the Hyundai dealership told me that driving in the snow must have altered my driving pattern and the adaptive learning had to be reset. She said that this was a common problem and since I had 23,700 miles on the car, this was not covered under warranty and I would have to pay $107 for the service. She convinced me to also have the entire transmission serviced although I really had another 6,000-plus miles to go. Why would Hyundai make a car with this feature if driving in the snow can set it off? I live on Long Island, where it snows a lot. I am very disappointed and I sincerely think this is a design flaw and customers should not be responsible for paying any of the expenses. It’s bad enough to go through the angst and inconvenience without also being responsible for the repairs. Please respond.
ANSWER: Let’s first talk about a 1-year-old car with under 24,000 miles needing a reprogramming of the computer. I would protest to the max on this reprogramming, or erasing the memory. Why not just disconnect the battery for an hour? The changing of the transmission fluid is just drain out three to four quarts from the transmission drain plug just like changing the engine oil. I will say the transmission fluid must be the correct fluid. I can tell you there are a lot of other car brands, and something like this would make me look in other directions. Personally I am very disappointed that you had to pay for the reprogramming. As for the transmission fluid change, that is part of regular maintenance.
QUESTION: The engine light stayed on in my 2000 Cougar. The problem code was EGR valve – insufficient airflow. After replacing the EGR valve, the engine light again came back on with the same problem code. The EGR sensor was replaced. After that, the engine light again came on with DPFE failure code. Do you think replacing the DPFE will finally cure the problem or will this lead to a series of other sensor failures? On the other hand, do you think there is another remedy I am overlooking?
ANSWER: Very seldom is it an EGR valve faulty. I see a lot of vehicles whose owners have replaced EGR valves and other sensors that are not the problem. EGR flow problems relate to carbon buildup and or faulty EGR related sensors such as the DPFE on Fords and VSV on Toyotas. Carbon buildup in EGR passageways, especially the intake manifold passageways. Just because there is a fault code does not mean the sensor is faulty. This is where a technician can pinpoint the actual problem. I would rather spend the correct labor time verse replacing unneeded parts.
Junior Damato writes weekly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.