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Motormouth: Open the window, then start the car?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: Periodically, my 2014 Buick Regal will not crank when I turn the ignition key to start but displays the following message on the instrument panel "Open and close driver window." After I open and close the driver window, the message changes to "Open and close the passenger window." After opening and closing the passenger window, the engine then cranks and runs after turning the ignition switch. What could be the cause?

L.K., Park Ridge, Illinois

A: Although this is a symptom of a bad body control module (BCM) let’s hope not. The BCM needs constant voltage and if that voltage drops below a given level, the BCM may temporarily lose its settings. Opening and closing the windows resets the BCM and since this only happens occasionally, there may be a separate issue. Ask your mechanic to investigate for voltage drops.

Q: I was somewhat amused by your answer to the question of idling or not in the drive-thru window line. If the line is that long, why not just park the car and walk into the bank or fast food or coffee place? It will both save gas and get you some probably much needed exercise.

F.S., Breinigsville, Pennsylvania

A: Are you crazy? Walk? Stand in line among the great unwashed masses? Madness!

Q: Decades ago, I was taught to shift the car into neutral, let the clutch out and wait for the light. This was to avoid wear on the clutch, or maybe it was the throw-out bearing. Over the years, I've formed the habit of shifting to neutral and holding the clutch in for what I anticipate to be a short stop. Am I hurting anything? My 2005 Infinity G35 did well, and my Mini Cooper also. I must say they've made shifting easier.

C.B., Delano, Minnesota

A: You are not hurting anything. But if you keep the clutch pedal depressed for a long, long, long, long time, you may get a cramp in your calf muscle.

 

Q: Would you please do a piece on air bag longevity? How long does the air bag mechanism and air bag material last? For example, if I own or purchase a car with 20-plus years on it, will the air bag deploy on impact or will the passengers risk injury? Is there a test that can determine the health of the air bag system?

L.G., Naperville, Illinois

A: In the early days of the passive restraint (airbag) system, Mercedes asked the same question. The company required owners to have the system checked annually. After 10 years the program was dropped. There was no data to believe that the system would fail to deploy. I know of no procedure to test the airbags other than crashing the car. Do not try this at home.

Q: I have a 2018 Genesis G80 with 19,000 miles. On a trip from Northwest Indiana to Charleston, South Carolina, the steering became "sticky" on the trip's many mountainous high-speed curves. I had to tug the steering wheel back to keep in my lane. The sticky (technical term) steering wheel is not usually a problem on a regular 90-degree turn but does occur on curves. I plan to have my power steering fluid flushed, but not sure it will help. Any ideas to solve this?

J.B., Schererville, Indiana

A: Although there could be a steering or suspension problem, this notchy behavior is usually due to a problem with the rack-and-pinion. Flushing fluid sometimes helps but replacing the rack-and-pinion assembly is probably the solution.

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