I own a 1997 Dodge Stratus, five-speed 2.0 engine, 225,000 miles, p/s, a/c. I am the only owner of the car, bought it brand new. I have a bucking problem with the car. The car is in great shape, runs good except for the bucking. When you are driving normally at say 65 mph, and you just lightly let off the gas pedal and lightly touch it again to maintain speed, the car starts to buck.
QUESTION: I own a 1997 Dodge Stratus, five-speed 2.0 engine, 225,000 miles, p/s, a/c. I am the only owner of the car, bought it brand new. I have a bucking problem with the car. The car is in great shape, runs good except for the bucking. When you are driving normally at say 65 mph, and you just lightly let off the gas pedal and lightly touch it again to maintain speed, the car starts to buck. If you either give it gas or take your foot off the pedal it stops bucking. It does not matter what speed you’re going, just repeat the on and off steps and it bucks. I have been having this problem for like three years and no one can pinpoint it. It shows no codes, either by a dealership or my own meter, or my mechanic’s meter. I have replaced the throttle positioner, cam sensor, wires, plugs, pvc, fuel filter (fuel pump was replaced about four years ago) a hose to the pvc valve, had the throttle body cleaned as they said it was sticking. I have an exhaust leak (not sure if that contributes). I am at a loss. Like I said the car runs and idles great, has pep and everything. All except for the letting off the pedal and just lightly touching it again like to maintain speed. Hope you can help.
ANSWER: An often overlooked part in this complaint is the EGR valve not closing 100 percent when decelerating on the highway. If the EGR valve does not close 100 percent when you lightly step on the gas pedal the engine runs lean, causing the bucking. Another possibility is engine timing too far advanced, either by the computer, timing chain or timing belt slack. Have the technician bypass the EGR valve for testing purposes to start with. This problem usually only happens in high gear with manual transmission vehicles. Unlike automatic transmission vehicles, there is no transmission slippage with manual transmission vehicles. This is a good place to start with little cost.
QUESTION: My husband had a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Unfortunately he died in November. I am planning on giving the minivan to my son-in-law when he can fly down and drive it back up north. It may be a few months before he can do this. In the meantime, how often do I need to start it? Can it sit in the driveway with the motor running or do I need to actually drive it around? I want to keep it in good shape (it only has 60,000 miles on it.)
ANSWER: One of the biggest mistakes people make is just starting the engine and letting it idle in the driveway. If you cannot drive the van weekly, just leave it sitting until some one can take it out for a drive, if the registration and insurance are current. You can even ask a neighbor to drive the van weekly. It is best to take it out for a half hour drive to get the engine up to operating temperature. You also want to make sure the oil and filter have been changed recently, and keep the gas tank full.
QUESTION: I’m a regular reader of your column in my local newspaper. My question is in regard to power steering fluid. I have a 2005 Ford Taurus. The power steering dipstick indicates that it could use a little additional fluid. I have an old bottle of power steering fluid that indicates it meets Ford specification M2C128C & D. The car manual specifies Ford “Mercon.” Can I use the old bottle of fluid without causing a problem?
ANSWER: Ford power steering pumps do have some issues from making noises to actual pump failure. I would not add anything other than what is recommended by the manufacturer on any fluid change or top off. I would recommend using a turkey baster and suck out the old power steering fluid and refill it with the correct fluid.
QUESTION: I have 115k miles on my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT V6. The other day while I was driving my o/d off light on my dashboard started to flash. It starts flashing after about five minutes of driving. I read online that the 2002 Explorers generally have bad transmissions and the light flashing means the transmission is about to fail. I’d like your opinion on this.
ANSWER: The overdrive light flashing means there is a problem with the transmission not shifting into overdrive, or there is some slipping. The technician will need to check for trouble fault codes. In some cases there could be internal transmission problems. There have been some transmission problems on these vehicles. This does not mean that your transmission needs an overhaul.
Junior Damato writes about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360, or e-mail email@example.com.