Q: When I press down the gas pedal of my 2012 Toyota Camry, sometimes I get no response. I have to jiggle the pedal before the engine will respond. A mechanic explained that there is no mechanical linkage between pedal and carburetor, and the problem must lie in the computer. He didn't know how to fix it, however.
A: Your car, and most other newer ones, are "drive-by-wire." There is no mechanical link from the gas pedal, and the computer sends a command to an electromechanical device to open the throttle. By default, the throttle will close if there is no signal from the gas pedal. As for fixing it, the problem could lie with the gas pedal sensor, the throttle control device or in the computer. My guess is the gas pedal sensor.
Q: In a recent column you referred to the "55 mile per hour speed limit, as was imposed during the Carter administration." That is incorrect. It was imposed during the Nixon administration. I was there.
A: Oops. During the Carter administration, I believe the restriction was a limit of 55 peanuts per package. But I might be wrong about that, too.
Fight the fees
Q: A year ago in March, my wife and I bought a new Hyundai Sonata from a dealer. After negotiations, we had to see the business office person. As we looked at the order and invoice, we noticed charges for dealer handling, $303, and $299 for VSP etching. None of these add-ons were on the sticker. We were told that all new vehicles come with these charges, and the dealer can't do anything about it. Is this for real, or is it just another way to get more money from the buyer?
A: Some charges are non-negotiable, such as the destination fee. But other stuff is a way to make more money. Etching, for instance is not required. Fabric protection is not required. Locking lug nuts are not required. And so on. You can ask that the charges be removed but expect a fight. Just remember that you have the mother of all negotiation tools — your feet. Walk away from the deal and shop somewhere else.
Too much gas
Q: Apparently, I overfilled the gas tank on my Ford F250. The check engine light has been on ever since — almost 1,000 miles. Are there any long-term consequences?
A: The charcoal canister in the evaporative emissions system likely is saturated with liquid gasoline. It needs to be replaced. In the meantime, your fuel economy might go down.
To the point
Q: Why is the cost of fuel reported to the decimal point? I have never seen anything but a 9 in this position. Wouldn't it be cheaper to manufacture pump readouts to the nearest penny?
A: The decimal grew out of a quest to assure accuracy from the pump. And while analog pumps go to one-tenth of a cent, digital pumps are capable of giving a reading down to one-thousandth of a cent.
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