Motormouth: Gas cap issue

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Q: I own a 2009 Toyota RAV4 with 97,000 miles. I have had issues with the check engine, VSC and 4WD lights coming on at the same time. I replaced the gas cap with an aftermarket cap, and when that didn’t work, I replaced it with an OEM cap. It was OK for a while. Research revealed a hack involving application of Vaseline on the O-ring of the gas cap. I tried it and had success. After the Vaseline wore off, I started using some heavy-duty wheel bearing grease and it hasn’t come back on since. I plan on keeping the car for at least another five years considering the few miles I drive. What do you think?

J.W., West Hartford, Connecticut

A: The grease may be creating a better seal by filling small gaps between the neck and cap. Avoid using too much grease. I have a hunch that the top of the filler neck may have some nicks or scratches that are cutting into the caps’ O-rings. They can often be sanded off, but be careful to prevent any junk from falling into the tank. Stuff a rag in the filler neck and remove it carefully after you’re finished.

Q: Just read about the guy who wants to rent a manual to teach his friend how to drive. Reminds me of one time my wife and I traveled to Germany. We have been driving manuals since we started driving about 50 years ago. When we drive an automatic, we have trouble because we can't keep our left foot still. Of course, we wanted a manual. We arrived at the airport in Germany and went to the car rental counter. We told the guy what we wanted. He looks at our paperwork and says, "The paperwork says you ordered a manual." I said, "Yes we want a manual." He says, "Most Americans want an automatic." I answered back in German "Sehan wir aus wie die meisten Americaner?" (Do we look like most Americans?) He turned beet red and my wife gave me a little love tap with her foot.

C.W., Berlin, Connecticut

A: Bist du ein Berliner? Good story. Did you end up with a stick?

Q: To follow up on a recent reader's question, I've had good luck finding a variety of rental cars with a stick shift on I've also found these private rentals to be less expensive than conventional car rental companies.


M.S., Colorado Springs, Colorado

A: I hadn’t heard of Turo, so I Googled it. According to its website, “Turo is the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, where you can book the perfect car for wherever you’re going from a vibrant community of trusted hosts across the US, UK, Canada, Australia and France.” The URL is

Q: My check engine light is on and when I used the code reader at the auto parts store, it came back as P0016, which indicates the camshaft position sensor. What confuses me is that I can't understand why the light is off some days and then will again come on. While it was off, I went for my emission test and of course it didn't pass since the P0016 was stored in the car. Your thoughts?

A.M., Chicago

A: The check engine light illuminates when there is an emissions related problem. If the problem goes away, even temporarily, the light goes out, but the code is stored for a tech to examine and repair the problem. Get it fixed, get the car retested and get your tags.

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