Q: My daughter bought her 2016 Jeep Wrangler brand new from the dealership.
When the car is parked overnight – or parked for a while – it stops when she puts it in reverse. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does quite often.
She has taken it back to the dealer, but they did not fix the problem. She took it to our mechanic. We thought he had fixed it, but he didn’t.
Can you tell us what could be causing this problem?
A: I would start by evaluating the data from the computer when it stops. A possible problem is a faulty crankshaft position sensor or wiring problem.
If all the electronics look good, the problem is probably internal to the transmission. When gear positions are selected, there are clutches that soften engagement. It is possible that the reverse clutch or lock-up torque converter is malfunctioning, causing stalling.
At this point I would return to the dealer or a transmission specialist for further evaluation.
Q: My elderly mother has a 2005 Honda Civic with 6,000 miles. Over the past year she has been dealing with frequent issues with dead batteries.
In February 2021 we replaced the original battery and bought a new battery from the dealer. She has continued to have problems and has required at least a dozen “boosts”.
The dealer says she doesn’t drive the car enough to fully charge the battery. The dealer has performed several diagnostic checks on the charging system and cannot find anything wrong with the car. I have a hard time with that answer because she takes the car out for errands and doctor appointments and then the next day the battery is dead.
I’ve never had a car that couldn’t sit for days and not start. Her driving pattern now is no different than before she got the new battery. Any ideas?
A: I don’t agree with the dealer about the lack of driving affecting the battery, but I also think the battery needs to be replaced.
I would start with a full evaluation of both the battery and the charging system. As good as today’s batteries are, they don’t recover very well after being completely discharged.
The idea that the car has been boosted (started) a dozen times tells me the battery is at the end of its life. I would return to the dealer and have them test the battery again. Once a good battery is in the car, it is best to drive the car for 30 minutes each week.
Q: I need to store my car for about six to eight months. From what I understand, I should disconnect the negative terminal of the battery (or use a battery holder), change the oil and add stabilizer to a full tank of gas.
I’ve also heard that it’s a good idea to overinflate the tires or put the car on jacks to protect the tires from spots. Are these actions correct?
A: When I put a car away, I do this:
- Change the oil and lubricate locks, hinges, bushings, etc.
- Inflate the tires to maximum tire pressure (as indicated on the sidewall).
- Fill the gas tank and add a gas stabilizer.
- Put some moisture absorbents in the cabin to prevent mold.
- Use a battery holder to keep the battery charged.
- To prevent tire punctures, get four pieces of foam insulation and put one piece under each tire.
- Finally, cover the car with a quality car cover.
Q: Should I buy a cheap battery and replace it every two to three years or buy an expensive one and replace it every four to five years? Also, what would you consider a good battery brand? There are too many to choose from.
A: Generally – with a battery – you get what you pay for. Cheaper batteries generally have less starting power and lower reserve capacity than more expensive batteries.
Cheaper batteries also have much shorter warranties. For example, AAA batteries have a three-year, 100% replacement warranty and are prorated for six years. AAA batteries are designed to meet or exceed the manufacturer’s original specifications.
For me it’s important to have a battery you can trust, and even with my Yankee stinginess (OK, I’m cheap) I’d only buy a high quality battery.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email email@example.com and put “Car Doctor” in the subject line. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.