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Motormouth: Can't go through car wash?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I have a 2019 Subaru Forester. I have been told that, due to the many electronic systems, I cannot go to a car wash that uses a track system. To do so I would have to turn off all systems. I was told it is because my car is in neutral on a track system and the electronic systems are still engaged. Is this true?

K.B., Middletown, Illinois

A: You stumped me, so I turned to the International Carwash Association for help. In an email they said that there isn't anything that they are aware of that makes Subarus unable to be washed at a car wash. The association continues to advocate for car wash manufacturers to add a "car wash button" or "car wash mode" that will help drivers be able to wash without difficulty. Unfortunately, some manufacturers haven't made this a priority yet. When in doubt, the driver should ask the car wash operators for assistance. They've usually learned how to help drivers get a clean car.

Q: The battery in my wife's Grand Cherokee died. I tried to jump it with my 2020 Ram with the 5.7-liter engine but to no avail. When I borrowed a portable jump start unit, it started right up. I ran the cables from the Ram's battery terminals directly. What gives?

C.B., Henderson, Nevada

A: Not all jumper cables are created equal. You may have been using small lighter gauge cables unable to carry the needed amperage. Good cables are usually 1 or 2 gauge and able to carry 400 amps or more, while some jumper boxes can deliver 800 amps or more.

Q: I have a 2008 Honda CR-V. The TPMS light would come on intermittently, generally after driving about 20 minutes, stay on for a bit, then go off. I brought the vehicle to the dealership, and they said the light came on because I was using the auxiliary jack in the dash to charge my phone and that I could no longer charge my phone that way. They said they did a reset. I've not charged the phone that way since, and the light's not come on. It didn't make sense to me, because isn't that what the auxiliary jack is for?

 

K.M., Dracut, Massachusetts

A: Cheap automobile phone chargers are known to create problems. The most common is interference with the FM signal for your radio. But I can’t rule out stray signals from your charger messing with the ABS system. A charger from the same company that makes your phone is less likely to cause interference.

Q: I have a 2008 Saab 93 Turbo X and it has been a dreamboat for its first 135,000 miles. However, recently, whenever the car is in heavy traffic and warms up, I have a great deal of difficulty shifting gears. Whenever I start the car and it’s cold, shifting is as smooth as silk. I’ve never had the clutch replaced and wonder if that could be the culprit. What do you think the issue could be?

T.G. Highland Park, Illinois

A: You are on the right track. My hunch is a bad slave cylinder. It pushes on the clutch cover (pressure plate) to uncouple the engine from the transmission. Since the slave is inside the clutch housing, you might as well replace the whole shebang, including the cover assembly, clutch disc, pilot bearing and, if necessary, the flywheel if it has blue areas showing heat damage.

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