Sonata sluggish after soaking

(Chris Walker/ Chicago Tribune photo / June 5, 2003)

Q: My 2004 Hyundai Sonata has 124,000 miles on it and is very well maintained. Two weeks ago I ran it through a carwash that also cleaned the undercarriage. The car stalled while in the wash, and restarted minutes later, but very sluggishly (it was chugging). After driving it for several miles, it was as if nothing happened. I had the spark plugs changed about eight months ago along with the scheduled maintenance. What could be wrong?

— K.Z., Chicago

A: It sounds like water was shorting out the ignition on one or two cylinders. That can happen with old spark plug wires or coil-on-plug ignition assemblies. A good technician can use a scope to watch the electrical wave forms while soaking stuff to isolate the problem.

Q: I have an Acura TL. I notice a vibration in the gas pedal when traveling over 40 mph. I have taken it to the dealer three times with no avail. First time, the mechanic told me it might be the torque converter, but the next day I was called by the service manager and told that it was a misdiagnosis and the problem was due to imbalanced tires. They rotated and balanced the tires but no fix. Second, they swapped out the tires and rims with another TL, but same vibration. On the third time, they told me that they drove another 2010 TL to compare and they drive the same. I find it very difficult to believe that it would be normal for any car. Any ideas on what else it can be?

— M.P., Chicago

A: We suggest you return to the dealer and ask to drive another Acura TL to see for yourself if they all vibrate. We bet they don't. At that point, call the service manager on giving you the runaround and ask the shop to continue its diagnostic search for the problem. Don't let them dismiss you.

Q: It is recommended to treat gasoline remaining in a lawnmower over the winter with Sta-Bil. Would that also be true for leaving a car garaged for long periods?

— A.B., St. Charles, Ill.

A: Yes, indeed. Fuel treatments like Sta-Bil prevent the gasoline from getting stale. They also prevent gum and varnish from forming in the tiny passages of carburetors and fuel injectors. We recommend a fuel stabilizer for any engine that will sit more than 60 days.

Q: After the last oil change at 92,000 miles, my 2005 Chrysler TC was recommended to have the steering rack replaced as it was leaking fluid. I checked and felt some seepage, but the reservoir is still full to the recommended level. Would some kind of sealer fluid solve this problem.

— A.S., Allentown, Pa.

A: We would certainly try a power steering fluid sealer. But the leak may return after awhile. If and when that happens, plan to replace the rack. Consider getting a remanufactured unit to save some money. By the way, remove some fluid from the reservoir before adding the sealer. Otherwise it will be overfilled. A turkey baster does a nice job.

Q: I have changed my oil every 3,000 miles since purchasing my auto new. It currently has over 133,000 miles on it. At the last oil change the attendant mentioned that I was down half a quart. He suggested I fill up with high mileage oil to help eliminate this condition. What is your opinion about high mileage oil?

— B.O., Farmington, Conn.

A: It can help older cars with high mileage since the gaskets and seals become hard with age. The additives in the oil help soften them, which can help keep the oil from seeping by. It is worth trying over the next few oil changes.

Send questions to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, or with name and town to motormouth.trib@verizon.net.

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