I drive a 2010 Passat. Its radio reception suddenly cuts out. At first I thought it was due to distance from their transmission towers, but I have reception problems in another town, too. The reception is better, but if I travel under a bridge, I may lose reception.
QUESTION: I drive a 2010 Passat. Its radio reception of a local station suddenly cuts out. At first I thought it was due to distance from their transmission towers, but I have reception problems in another town, too. The reception is better, but if I travel under a bridge, I may lose reception. VW replaced the radio, and their computer can’t find another cause, so I continue to lose reception on one of my favorite radio stations. No other station is affected this way. Any ideas on how to rectify the problem?
ANSWER: Radio signals from stations are affected by EMI electronic interference, as are computers. There are some radio stores that sell antenna boosters that go between the radio and antenna. These boosters do work.
QUESTION: There is a lot of hype about the quality improvements of the new American cars. Can you comment on any of the new American cars you have driven recently?
ANSWER: Each week I get a new press car to drive for a week and talk about it every morning on the radio and also mention them in these columns. A car that really surprised me was the 2011 Dodge Charger hemi all-wheel drive. Our test car was loaded with options. The price of $37,000 was a bargain for this all-new car. Gone is the banging over bumps, gone is the cheap interior, gone is the poor gas mileage. The style fit finish was that of a high priced import. The heated and cooled cup holders were also a big hit. Gas mileage average was in the 20s, which is unheard of from a hemi. Power was smooth, and the exhaust note let you know you’re in a performance four-door sedan. If this is the way Dodge is going, they are on the right track.
Another vehicle was the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. GM spent a lot of time on the front-end design to reduce air turbulence. Next was the use of aluminum for the rear lift gate and hood. There are also many engineering upgrades, too many to mention. The result was plenty of smooth power and gas mileage. Our test Tahoe was a joy to drive. It is a big SUV that drives like a smaller SUV. GM did a good job on all the improvements. I would hope that buyers that strayed away from the U.S. vehicles would take another look and test drive.
QUESTION: I have contacted a class-action attorney because my 2005 Prius radio gets lousy reception. I have exhausted all attempts to resolve this via the dealership and writing to Toyota’s CEO who keeps pushing me back to the dealership. Evidently, Toyota knew they had a problem because it has been corrected in later models. And researching this complaint on the Web shows there are thousands out there with the same complaint. I live in a rural area where you are in your car traveling long distances. Should an emergency occur where notification is via your radio, this, I believe, is a definite safety hazard. Do you have any information on this subject?
ANSWER: Identifix lists a TSB on this problem. There is a noise filter in the antenna cable that can cause this problem. The bulletin states to replace the antenna cable and mast if needed. I personally have not seen this problem on this vehicle. I have seen poor AM reception on a variety of my weekly test vehicles. Some have better reception than others. Ask the dealer for the Toyota TSB on your problem radio. This could save you a lot of stress.
QUESTION: I have a 2002 Kia Sedona with an intermittent problem for several months of a combination of engine cutting out (as if it died for two or three seconds and then lunges forward), and also when sitting at a light with my foot on the brake the RPMs raise slightly and lower a few times. It felt like someone was tapping my rear bumper with their car. Had I not had my foot on the brake, I would have hit the car in front of me. It also would stall sometimes while stopped, but not nearly as often as the lunging would occur. I cleaned the throttle body as recommended to no avail. Now the mechanics say it’s possibly the mass airflow sensor or the throttle position sensor, but can’t be sure unless it has the problem while hooked up to the machine. Both parts are costly. It used to only do it when the engine was cold, but now does it also it when warm. Any suggestions?
ANSWER: It can be difficult to make repairs when there are no symptoms or check-engine light present. This always brings me back to the basics and often overlooked maintenance. I recently had a similar problem and again checked all the basics and found the fuel pressure was low and traced it back to a partly blocked fuel filter. Have the technician check all the basic maintenance items.
Junior Damato writes weekly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.