Q and A: Checking fuses on dashboard lights can be tricky
QUESTION: I have a 2005 Buick LeSabre. The lights on the steering wheel controls for the cruise control and stereo do not work. Is this an easy fix? ANSWER: If the switches are still fully functional, just not illuminated, confirm that the other ...
QUESTION: I have a 2005 Buick LeSabre. The lights on the steering wheel controls for the cruise control and stereo do not work. Is this an easy fix?
ANSWER: If the switches are still fully functional, just not illuminated, confirm that the other interior backlighting for the cigar lighter, DIC (driver information center), HVAC (heating and air conditioning) and radio are working. If only the steering wheel lighting is not working, check the harness connectors for the DIM (dash integration module) and the steering wheel controls. If none of the backlighting illuminates, check the dimmer control and make sure the DIM light sensor isn't covered. My Alldata automotive database also shows a 2-amp switch fuse in the steering column fuse holder, which may be worth checking. Since checking this fuse and any further testing or repair of the steering wheel switches will involve disabling the air bag, leave this to a professional.
Q: My 1989 Nissan Maxima loses power regardless of speed or whether I am accelerating or holding the gas pedal steady. The vehicle will decelerate smoothly, then seconds later begin to gain speed and power just as smoothly. Pushing the gas pedal to the floor during this deceleration makes no difference. No warning lights go on, and the lights and accessories all still work. The car doesn't do it constantly, just at least once a day. The throttle position sensor and the air flow sensor were changed out, but four mechanics haven't found the problem.
A: The most likely cause for the sag in power is a drop in fuel pressure. When was the last time the fuel filter was replaced? The engine needs approximately 43 psi fuel pressure. If the pressure is fluctuating, you'll notice a significant loss of performance. A properly installed fuel pressure gauge monitored during a test drive might confirm this drop in pressure.
Q: When winter comes and it's cold outside, the clutch pedal on my 1995 F-150 gets different -- it won't come all the way back up. Then after a while it will not go into reverse. When this happened the last time, I put some brake fluid in the slave cylinder reservoir and the problem went away. Maybe it needs to be bled again? Have you ever heard of bleeding the cylinder backwards?
A: The bigger question is: Where did the fluid in the clutch hydraulic system go? If you had to add fluid, there's a leak somewhere. Refilling and bleeding the clutch hydraulics may restore proper clutch action at least temporarily, but finding and fixing the leak is the permanent solution.
Bleeding the clutch system to remove any air is always worth a try when the clutch fails to properly disengage. The proper bleeding technique depends on whether your truck is fitted with an external clutch slave cylinder or an internal concentric slave cylinder. If it's an external slave, it can be bled in a conventional fashion or "reverse" bled with a vacuum pump "pulling" fluid through the slave cylinder bleeder screw. If it's a concentric slave, the procedure is a bit different, but it can still be manually bled.
Q: I have received a lot of mixed messages about the use of E-85 in my flex-fuel vehicle. It ranges from "use sparingly" to "no problem using it as primary." What is your advice on its use?
A: Personally, I think the major factors are cost and availability. The vehicle will run fine on pure gasoline, E-10 or E-85. Considering the significantly lower energy content and lower miles per gallon with E-85, I'd suggest checking the economics of using it periodically as fuel and ethanol prices rise and fall.