Ask the Auto Doctor: Scan tool needed for malfunction

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Dear Doctor: I’m having trouble with the cruise control on my 2009 Infiniti G37. When I activate the cruise control the light will flash as set, but does not engage. I looked for fuses for the cruise control but haven’t found any yet, and someone told me it has to do with the with the brakes. Any advice? The car only has 27,000 miles. Scott

Dear Scott: On today’s late model vehicles there are multiple computers and control modules. A professional scan tool can read body control fault codes and all sensor values. You should take your car to any shop that employs an ASE-certified Master and/or L1 Technician. Many times systems will not set a service light when a fault is present. Body control systems are not the same as a “check engine” light system.

Dear Doctor: I own a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic sedan with 114,000 miles. I’m having a problem with the digital dash. Once in a while the odometer will start to flash multiple times and occasionally all of the numbers on the dash go blank. Then they will return and correctly display. One mechanic said it might be a loose ground connection. What should I do? Al

Dear Al: The electronic dash cluster display has been an ongoing problem on many vehicles over the years. There are many companies that repair dash clusters at a cost of $90 to $300, depending on the car brand. We use an excellent company — BBA Remanufacturing — in Taunton, Mass.

Dear Doctor: I read your column and find it very informative. I am a retired auto mechanic and I use my 2016 Ford F-150 2WD powered by the 3.5-liter (non-EcoBoost) to tow a 22-foot boat/trailer combo that weighs 5,500 pounds. It is very capable on all ramps and very good on the highway. My previous pickup also was a Ford F-150 2WD powered by a 4.6-liter. I always change the oil and filter at 3,000 miles. Do you think I’m getting the capable performance from the frequent oil changes? I don’t think the 4WD would option would have had a significant capability increase, since my truck is doing so well with towing and ramp work. Bill

Dear Bill: As you and most readers know oil is the lifeblood of any engine and changing it sooner is better than later. If you look at the different oils, both synthetic and regular petroleum, there are substantial price differences. Always buy a good brand oil that meets all of the engine requirements for your vehicle. As for the 2WD verses 4WD pickup truck on a boat ramp, some of the boat ramps here in New England where I live can be difficult — even with a 4WD truck. My boat is 10,000 pounds and I need to use 4WD in low range to get the boat up most steep ramps. At 5,000 pounds, in most cases, a 2WD pickup truck can easily pull the boat out.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Pontiac GTO. There is an intermittent problem with the trunk lock releasing on its own. There is no key cylinder, only a release button on the key fob, as well as in the glove box. When it releases I hear a thump, but the alarm does not go off. I’ve even had the release activator replaced. Any ideas? Dennis

Dear Dennis: I don’t believe the fault is in the glove box button or trunk actuator. The remote button would seem to be the culprit. Using a scan tool, a technician should be able to go into the body control module and see if there are any codes for the system. However, I would first remove the battery from the remote and try the second remote. Or remove/replace the battery from the remote and see if the problem is resolved. There are many electrical signals all around us and the possibilities for causing issues are endless.

Dear Doctor: I just bought a 2016 Volvo XC90 AWD T6 Inscription. The T6 is good for 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and is equipped with all-wheel drive. It’s rated to tow up to 5,291 pounds. I have a 2,800-pound travel trailer, but I feel uneasy using the XC90 to do a lot of towing. My question is whether this four-cylinder supercharger and turbocharger engine can really be considered a trailer towing vehicle. William

Dear William: I spent a week in this Volvo and was amazed with the level of power and performance delivered by this small engine. I would have no reservations with the 2016 Volvo XC90 pulling half of what it is rated for. The future is small engines with a supercharger and/or turbocharger. Volvo did a great job with this package.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.