Starting 2012 Chrysler van gives driver a jolting jump

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: May 16, 2014 - 10:56 PM

Q: Recently I purchased a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country SXT V6 van with 39,000 miles. It is a one-owner vehicle with no Carfax issues. When starting out anytime, the accelerator pedal moves about an inch down before the vehicle responds from idle. When it does it jumps forward rather than a smooth reaction. This makes me let up on the pedal and then it jumps again when I reapply the throttle. This may be an inherent characteristic. I can describe the issue like this: If it is idling at 800 rpm at a stop, it jumps to 2500 rpm to get going, then adjusts to the pedal position. I called the dealership and they want to do a diagnostic and test drive for more than $100.

A: You are correct that some of the transmission’s characteristics may be inherent. The software that controls the transmission is programmed to maximize fuel economy by tailoring shifts to specific driving conditions. The “ECO” button, for example, will cause the transmission to shift directly from first to third gear, softening acceleration to improve fuel economy.

Chrysler has issued two software updates that address shift quality from the 6-speed automatic transmission in this vehicle. One of these is called the “enhanced pedal” update which, according to the bulletin, “will make the vehicle more responsive with less pedal input and also take less effort to maintain a constant cruising speed.”

You didn’t mention where you purchased the vehicle, but it’s worth asking the dealer if your vehicle is affected by the bulletin, and if the update was done at no cost to the original owner. If not, even though the vehicle is just a few thousand miles out of warranty, this may be covered as a good-will adjustment.

Q: I have a 2007 Ford Focus with a trunk release issue. When I push the trunk release button on the dash and when I push the trunk release button on the remote, it sounds like a loud machine gun firing and always causes heads to turn in the parking lot. This occurs about 90 percent of the time. Usually the trunk does release, but occasionally it doesn’t work and I have to repeat the process or unlock it with the key. Also, the dash light appears, indicating that the trunk isn’t locked after I close it even though usually it is locked.

A: The most likely cause is a poor electrical connection or ground in the trunk release solenoid circuit. Ford issued service bulletin #10-5-9 in March 2010 outlining a diagnostic procedure for the trunk release. The bulletin deals with an inoperative solenoid and identifies the possibility of a poor connection between the trunk release harness connector and the solenoid. Even though your symptom is a bit different, this is the place to start.

Q: I have a 2005 Mercury Mariner that I purchased new. The vehicle is in showroom condition with 47,000 miles on it. Here’s the issue. The tachometer on the left has a little window that displays information such as direction, door open, oil change needed, etc. This has dulled to the point of being barely visible. The dealer states that the whole section of the dash must be replaced at a cost of around $700. Is there not a less expensive way? I like everything to be just right!

A: The dashboard on your vehicle is back-lit with a number of small light bulbs. The individual bulbs are replaceable by removing the dashboard to gain access. The real question is whether the “dulled” display is due to a burned-out bulb or failed module supplying the info to the display. If you can read the specific information displayed, even when dulled, I suspect the lamp behind it is burned out.

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