January 3, 2013
Q: I have a 2009 Honda CRV that has automatic climate control. In theory, I set the temperature and the system does the rest. However, I've noticed that even when it is cold outside and only the heater should be running, I find that telltale, dripping condensation from the air conditioner. No one at Honda has been able to answer this question; if the car is set to "auto," does the A/C run all the time? If so, isn't this a huge energy waster during the nine months that A/C is unnecessary?
— J.S., Mundelein, Ill.
A: It is not only normal, but essential that the A/C run sometimes in the winter. It doesn't run constantly, but cycles on and off. It helps dehumidify the air to keep your windshield fog free. Running the air conditioning also keeps its oil circulating to prevent a dry start come summer.
Q: We have a 2006 Honda Odyssey. The back came off the remote key fob. The fob still works fine. The Honda dealer said a new key would cost $100 plus $70 to program it. I wrote to the Torrance, Calif. headquarters and they said the same thing. Do you have a source where I can get just the back for replacement? I have a piece of cardboard now held on with rubber bands.
— W.D., Des Plaines, Ill.
A: Consider an aftermarket or a used RKE (remote keyless entry). We did a quick online search and found Honda RKEs ranging in price from $35 to $110. You will need to get the correct one for your particular vehicle, and you will then have to pay to have it programmed. Call your local locksmith as they may have replacements. Some independent shops and locksmiths can program them if you are reluctant to return to the dealer.
Q: Why don't some of the major car magazines (Consumer Reports, Road & Track, etc.) publish the number of decibels recorded within a car's interior when it is driven over "the same stretch of rough road" at "the same road speed??" That way, consumers would have a true comparison of the quietness. Many car buyers like myself (and Superman) seek a fortress of solitude when we decide which new car we wish to purchase.
— D.T., Ellwood, Ill.
A: That is a good question and since we are publishing it here, perhaps the buff books will pick up on your request. Meanwhile, carmakers are always searching for ways to make the interiors quieter, especially on the luxury or near-luxury vehicles. Buick recently announced that the 2013 Encore will have active noise cancellation supplied by Bose. You may have seen airplane passengers wearing noise cancelling headsets and this is the same technology. A microphone picks up the noise frequencies then the entertainment system produces similar frequencies, but 180 degrees out of phase. The generated sound cancels out the first. We once saw an experimental muffler system from Walker using the same technology, but suspect it was too expensive to produce.
Q: What's the deal with car oil dipsticks? No way can you know how much oil is left in the engine because when you pull it out it is covered with oil. My last three cars have been the same.
— D.F., New Lenox, Ill.
A: This is not a new phenomenon. Any engine having a long dipstick seems to have this issue. Wiping, reinserting and repeating several times usually clears the dipstick tube so that you will be able to get a good reading. Hopefully, you won't have to add more oil to make up the loss.
Q: I have a 2010 Ford Focus. Over the summer, I was driving home from Minnesota and after driving for 8 hours, the throttle control light came on, my acceleration slowed down, my cruise control shut off. The check engine light went on. I took the car to a nearby Ford dealer. They told me the sensor was bad and had to be ordered. I couldn't stay out of town another day so I drove home and had my dealer look at it. They kept it for the day, drove it about 100 miles on my gas and found no problem. I was hoping to get it resolved while under warranty. It is six months later and the light came back on and the car has over 60,000 miles and is out of warranty. I took it to my local auto shop, who found the issue right away. The throttle body should be replaced and it will cost me out of pocket about $650. Is there any way that I can get Ford to recoup any of this cost? I don't have a receipt from either dealership, as they didn't do anything but drive my car.
— D.B., Chicago
A: Without proof that this was a preexisting condition, you don't have much of a leg to stand on. If you had copies of the work orders stating no trouble found, at least you could document that you had a chronic problem. Let this be a lesson to our readers that it is vital to get everything in writing and to save every scrap of paper until you sell the car.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC