Mysterious start is in atmosphere

Ask the Auto Doctor

DEAR DOCTOR: I have a 2009 Chevy Traverse. Twice during the past week we heard our car “turn over” as if attempting to start. No one was in the vehicle, nor was anyone pushing a remote start button. The car did not actually start up. Is there a danger of fire? Could it be a bad starter? The dealership has never heard of this.

— Jane

DEAR JANE:: There’s a lot of electrical current in the atmosphere and you are not the first owner to have this event occur. We call this electronic magnetic interference, or EMI. It’s also possible that there could have been someone in the area with a remote device close to the same electric frequency that your vehicle is also on. As for fire danger, no, I don’t think you are at risk.

DEAR DOCTOR: I own a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse that received minor damage when rear-ended two years ago. My vehicle has air conditioning in the rear area of the interior, and about six months following the accident the A/C stopped running cold. The dealer filled it with Freon. One year later the A/C again would not run cold. Again, the dealer filled the Freon, put in blue dye, and charged me $150. Five months later the A/C would not run cold. The dealer could find no trace of blue dye, filled it with Freon and did not charge me. I was advised to return for another checkup in a month. I feel as if I’m getting nowhere with an expensive vehicle I just paid off — with a pricey extended warranty for the Traverse I purchased from the dealer at point of sale, which to date has been of no value. Can you advise me?


DEAR THOMAS: Small A/C leaks can be hard to locate. Dye and black lights, as well as a sniff type leak detector, are useful. Front condensers have been a common fault, as well as A/C lines. Regarding your rear-end accident, I recommend having a technician inspect the accident area. If any of the A/C components are in that area, then a call to your insurance company is in order. I understand the accident was two years ago, however you’ve been having problems since the accident.

DEAR DOCTOR: I want to purchase a new hybrid vehicle and Kia Niro is on the top of my list because of its size, roomy interior, and great gas mileage. What I don’t understand is how hybrids run the A/C when in stop-and-go traffic in electric power only, without the engine running. Doesn’t the A/C compressor need the engine to be running constantly to operate? And in cold winter weather doesn’t the engine need to run to operating temperatures, hence negating any “hybrid” fuel savings?

— Don

DEAR DON: The A/C system and power steering are both electric and will operate when the engine is off on any hybrid vehicle. In cold weather the gas engine of a hybrid vehicle will run at longer intervals. I agree, the Kia Niro is a great vehicle, and I was impressed with its high-performance sportscar-like capability.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

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

Mail questions to: Motor Matters, PO Box 3305, Wilmington, DE 19804


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