Electrical Problems: Look for Parasitic Drain

Dear Doctor: I have a 2014 Jeep with the 5.7-liter Hemi engine that seems to have an ongoing electrical problem. When not driven for two or three days the battery goes dead. The dealer changed several electrical modules, but that didn’t solve the problem. I have had several other technicians look at the Jeep, and they can’t seem to isolate the problem. I also changed the battery several times, yet the problem persists. I realize that with all of the electronics in today’s vehicles finding an intermittent problem can be a challenge. Have you seen this problem with the Jeeps? Bruce

Dear Bruce: Whenever we have a vehicle that has “parasitic drain” we first check the on/off operations of the interior lights, including the glove box, and make sure nothing is plugged into a power port. We also examine the power seat switch and touch to see if the switch is warm. The next step is using a low-amp current meter, or AMP buddy, to see how much current is drawn and use the AMP buddy to see what fuse is drawing the high current. I have even seen alternators cause current draw yet still charge properly. The use of a professional scan tool can reveal any request the computer is seeing. It will take a good technician to locate the source of the problem.

Car Paint Peeling:

Dear Doctor: Have you heard of paint peeling off cars? I have a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis. I went to my local Lincoln dealer, and they told me this was happening to most of the Police cars in my area. These are white cars in most of the model years close to my vehicle. I would appreciate any help you can give me. Mario

Dear Mario: The condition is called “paint delamination.” This was a problem for a lot of American manufacturers many years ago. Your car is 14 years old and no manufacturer will offer assistance at this stage, nor do I think they should. If you really like the car, then check with a few body shops for pricing to refinish the Mercury. The vehicle will need to be stripped down to metal and then primed and painted. The process will cost between $3,000 and $4,500, depending what type of paint is applied.

Window Rattle Noise:

Dear Doctor: I purchased 2017 Toyota Tundra. It has a full window above the backseat with a driver’s button on the dashboard to lower and raise the rear window. My issue is that when the window is down, no matter if it’s just 2 inches or all the way down, it rattles loudly. The dealer got another 2017 Toyota off his lot for me and the mechanic to see if it tested for the same rattling noise problem. And it did! Because my truck and the other truck we test drove had the same issues, they stated that was standard operation of the trucks with this type of rear widow. Any suggestions on how to correct this problem? Malcolm

Dear Malcolm: Any rattle sound indicates movement either in the window track or moving linkage. If this truck were at my shop my technicians would first verify the rattle and then remove the inner trim panel to examine the linkage and operation. I would determine whether we could adjust the regulator, or use a rubber shim in the area of the rattle.

Failing Transmission:

Dear Doctor: I have a 2010 Toyota Tacoma. On a recent trip upstate, a transmission cooling line failed causing a slow loss of fluid. I made it to my destination, but when I started the truck the next day it wouldn’t move and I had to have it towed to a Toyota dealer for repairs. When I picked it up, the technician told me that the truck was safe and drivable; however driving the truck with so little fluid had damaged the transmission. Now I find that when decelerating the Tacoma bucks violently into second and first gears. This only happens intermittently; most of the time it drives fine. Any thoughts on this and what I can do, short of replacing the transmission? Richie

Dear Richie: I would start by removing the transmission pan and replacing the filter and road test the truck. I have replaced many Toyota transmission filters with great success. A check of any transmission fault codes should also be done. If this does not make a difference, then use a bottle of transmission fluid modifier.


Dear Doctor: Have you ever driven a Mini Cooper? What can you tell me about the 2018 models? Lisa

Dear Lisa: For me personally, the Mini Cooper was always a bit too small, until this larger Countryman, with the benefit of all-wheel drive that makes it an all-weather sporty handler. The 2018 model has grown in size, with good room for passengers. The Mini has a good ride under any condition. The dash style and layout is much improved and easier to navigate. The large center display is clean and, unlike older Minis, there is not a learning curve to operating all the controls. The vehicle does handle all that you can give it. I drove the Mini Cooper Countryman Plug-In Hybrid with the three-cylinder gas engine with a turbocharger, which pumps out a combined 224 horsepower. Combined gas mileage with electric power is 65 mpg, and gas-only is 27 mpg.

— Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2018

(Manufacturer photo: 2014 Jeep Cherokee)

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

E-mail questions for publication to info@motormatters.biz

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