motormouth bob Weber
Q: I am sporadically receiving a check-engine code, P0014, on my 2013 Chevy Malibu that has only 30,600 miles on it. The issue is to replace the variable camshaft timing solenoid. Can you explain this a little and does it have to be addressed immediately?
J.A., Cetronia, Pa.
A: The cam timing solenoids rotate the camshaft a bit to change when the intake and exhaust valves open and close. This improves performance and fuel economy, especially on small engines. Gearheads of the past would actually swap out the camshaft to change the performance of their engines for racing purposes. Swapping out the solenoid is much easier and cheaper. Your engine will continue to run, but not at its best until you replace the solenoids.
Q: I recently became the owner of a 2008 Chrysler Crossover and am told to use premium gasoline. Is today's non-premium gasoline as high in octane as premium was in 2008? Can I use a non-premium fuel and not affect the operation of the car?
J.P., Northbrook, Ill.
A: The octane ratings for gasoline have not changed in a decade. There is no law preventing you from using regular instead of premium gasoline, but the laws of physics will cause your engine to perform a bit more poorly. Using regular instead of premium usually results in spark knock; when knock is detected, the engine control module detunes the engine until the knock stops. If you only putt around town, you may not detect the difference.
Q: I just read the column you wrote about a reader with an airbag recall notice who was having a difficult time getting the dealer to schedule the repair. The same thing happened to me when I received a second airbag recall notice for my 2002 Lexus SC430. After carefully reading the manufacturer's notice, I saw that the manufacturer recommended that the car not be driven until the repair was completed. I contacted Lexus and the local dealer requesting that if the car could not be used until the repair was completed, I needed a loaner until they could "find" the parts. Within a few days the part was located and the repair completed.
While your reader found another way to get his issue resolved, sometimes other types of persuasion need to be applied.
S.A., Farmingdale, N.Y.
A: There is an old saying that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." It is as apropos today as it was in the time of buckboards and stagecoaches. It continues to apply to automobiles. And people.
Q: We own a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe. We took the golden warranty for 10 years. The transmission was clunking and they replaced a switch and later the coupler, but it still clunks very hard at 40 miles per hour on a cold engine. The tech said the transmission was trying to find out if it should speed up or slow down. It didn't clunk loudly the first seven years. Why does it make that very loud clunking noise?
A: It makes that clunking noise because there is something wrong. Be persistent and don't give up until they fix it. See also: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician.