Q: I have a 2006 Honda Odyssey EX-L minivan with 111,000 miles (transmission fluid flushed at 90,000). Drive train seems “loose” when engine power is applied and backed off. There seems to be a slight rumbling sound when just enough gas is applied to maintain speed on basically level roads at most speeds in high gear. Are there adjustments that can be made to any part of the drive train? Is there a part or parts that typically wear out that can be replaced without replacing the whole transmission/transaxle?
A: There could by any number of parts broken that will cause this feeling of looseness. The good part of your Honda is the transmissions computer diagnostic module. If indeed it is an internal transmission issue, you could almost bank on the fact that the Check Engine light would be on, or other indicators telling you there is a problem with the computer-controlled and monitored transmission. Most likely you will find a broken mount for the engine and/or transmission. I wouldn’t rule out a worn bushing on the lower control arms or even in the front strut assemblies. For safety’s sake, I would have it professionally looked at as soon as you can.
Q: I own a 2001 Subaru Forester with automatic transmission and about 150,000 miles. In December 2009, at about 124,000 miles, the catalytic converter failed. My local mechanic put in a new Subaru converter which has a year warranty. In the fall of 2011, almost two years later, that catalytic converter failed. My mechanic wanted to try cleaning (rather than replacing) the converter, which I allowed. It was good for many months, but it eventually failed. We recently put in an after-market converter. These cost less, but have a five-year warranty, so supposedly they last longer. My Check Engine light came on again with the catalytic converter code. The mechanic took it on the highway to test the oxygen sensors that are before and after the catalytic. They are both fine. The engine is firing properly and not leaking oil. He thinks it must be a defective converter. Is there anything else we should check that might be the cause? This will be my car’s fourth converter.
A: This problem is so common. A catalytic converter fails and gets replaced. The problem is that no one is checking to see why the converter has failed. A converter can fail in any one of three ways: It can start to leak externally due to rot; it can become clogged; or it can stop doing its job of cleaning noxious exhaust gasses. There are legitimate reasons for all of the above to occur, but as I said, no one is doing the diagnostic work to find why the catalytic converter failed. Some of the reasons may include, but are not limited to, a leaking fuel injector; a faulty mass airflow sensor; a vacuum leak in the engine; an overheating engine; or even a faulty fuel pressure regulator. Do bear in mind that some vehicles do not do well with aftermarket catalytic converters, and a factory unit is the preferred way to go.
Car Care Tip: When going for a Massachusetts state inspection sticker, make sure all lights and mirrors are working. State rules say all that lights and mirrors that came with the vehicle when new have to be working in order to pass inspection.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears most Tuesdays. Write to Larry at the Gloucester Daily Times, c/o Auto Scanner, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930, or send an email to email@example.com.