COVID-19 and dead batteries

Ask the Auto Doctor


With the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are staying home and not driving. When you go to start the car you may experience instances where it won’t start. This is a dead battery, likely. For a proper and safe jump-start, call your AAA-approved technician. I do not advise car owners to disengage their own batteries for two reasons: 1.) you may lose the computer memory, and 2.) when reconnecting the battery, it’s possible you’ll spike the computer, resulting in extensive and costly computer damage.

— Junior


My 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser has 150,000 miles and still drives nicely. In the past year, the engine sometimes cuts out, either when I take my foot off the gas, or when coming to a stop. Sometimes this does not happen for weeks, but other times it happens two or three times on the same day. I’ve been using fuel injector cleaners, and also had my mechanic clean the fuel injector system to no avail. What could the issue be?

— Louis


The first step is to check for fault codes. Second is a road test with the scan tool connected to watch the idle control motor position. Issues could include a lazy idle control motor, throttle position sensor, lazy EGR valve (slow to close). Checks of the fuel filter and fuel pressure are also recommended.


I have a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 AWD Sport that rides hard with the equipped run flats. Would changing to all-season tires help the ride and what tire brand would you recommend?

— Joe


I get this question a lot at my shop. Run flat tires have very hard sidewalls, which are what makes them able to drive with low or no air pressure. Last weekend I replaced four tires with non-run flats on a BMW. One hour later the owner came in with coffee and donuts for every one in the shop. He said he now loves the ride and is going to buy a spare tire and jack. If you want to keep run flat tires talk to the tire company and ask to change the aspect ratio and tire size keeping the same outside diameter with in 1/4 of an inch. The brand I used was BF Goodrich, which is a basic mild summer tread pattern. You don’t have to worry about a speed rating. You can look online to find a jack and lug wrench, and spare tire assembly.


I have a 2018 Kia Sorento EX model that does not have the feature that locks all doors automatically when reaching 10 mph. I read on a Kia forum that the dealer can re-program the settings for this feature, but my dealer said he couldn’t. When my wife drives the grandchildren she sometimes forgets to lock the doors. We can engage the child safety lock switch inside the doorjambs. Is it really possible a 2018 vehicle doesn’t have this automatic door-locking feature?

— Jerry


In some vehicles, the central door lock system module can be reprogrammed. A factory dealer Kia scan tool is required for your Sorento model. The central locking module may have to be replaced and then programmed to your vehicle.


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