Dear Car Coach: I purchased a 2013 Honda Accord 4DR EX-L on Oct. 1. When I’m driving and then I go to use the brake, the car hesitates or jumps a few times. Also the wheel has an annoying vibration. I noticed while driving, when the accelerator is not in use, the vibration is not as bad but the wheel still vibrates. I called the dealer; they assured me this is how the vehicle operates. The car has 2,300 miles on it. I would like your input on this matter. – I.K.
Dear I.K.: I have heard of this problem from other owners. Some notice the vibration when the engine warms up. The vibration seems to be consistent in the 1600 to 1800 RPM range. In addition, the message boards have been lighting up with distressed drivers complaining of their Honda Accord vibration problems. If your Honda Accord is shaking or vibrating, make sure you get to an authorized Honda dealership as soon as possible to have the service adviser diagnose and address the issue. I know your dealer says this is normal – but this is not. If necessary, agree to go on a test drive with your service adviser. When the car is “fixed,” make sure you receive a comprehensive repair invoice, which states the problem, the mileage, and what was done to fix the problem. Keep these invoices in a safe place. If they claim they cannot fix the problem, make sure they put that in writing as well. If your Honda Accord is back repeatedly for the vibration issue, it is important to look into your Lemon Law rights. Depending on the repairs, you may be entitled to a new car or a complete repurchase and best of all, the representation is completely cost-free. (www.lemonlaw.com/new-york-lemon-law.html)
Dear Car Coach: I purchased a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, which comes with the ECO system. I didn’t understand how it works and neither did the salesperson or service manager. When do you use it, for city or highway driving? They said to leave it on all the time. Can you explain it to me? – J.W.F.
Dear J.W.F.: The 2011 Sonata has an active ECO system. It changes the operating characteristics of the computer to provide improved fuel economy. If you leave it on all the time you will get the best fuel economy. If you like power, as I do, you may note a sluggish response, but this is necessary to get the best fuel usage.
The “ECO” button on most cars does essentially two things:
• Changes the transmission shift points to better optimize fuel economy at the expense of drivability. In other words, the transmission will usually shift sooner to keep RPMs down.
• For cars with electronic throttle control (such as the Sonata), it changes the calibration of the gas pedal. Generally, in ECO mode, you have to push the gas pedal down farther to open the throttle the same amount. This encourages drivers to leave the throttle more closed and keep out of power levels that require fuel enrichment. However, even with the ECO button on, the throttle will still open all the way if you floor it.
Some manufacturers will also play around a bit with the air conditioning settings to squeeze out a few more fractions of MPG at the expense of A/C performance. Depending on the manufacturer, there may be other minor engine calibration tweaks as well.
Basically, for stop-and-go city driving, the ECO button will make some difference in mileage for most drivers. If you are just rolling down the highway with the cruise control on, it won’t make any difference in MPG.
Dear Car Coach: Does leaving your wiper arms and blades in the up position, so they don’t stick to the windshield during a snowstorm, damage the spring in the wipers? – D.L.
Dear D.L.: I understand the thought process behind leaving wiper arms up during a snowstorm. Doing so reduces the chances of damage to the wiper blades should they freeze to the windshield and require you to break, chip, or pry them free. Some say that leaving the wiper arms in the up position would stretch out the spring. I have never had an issue with a weakened spring.
Another option is to use winter wiper blades; these prevent ice and snow from adhering and clogging the wiper action. Another option is a “beam or flat blade” design. These blades hug the curve of your windshield to provide a clean wipe in any weather. The frameless technology prevents the buildup of snow and ice on the wiper blades. Unlike traditional frame wiper blades, the flat blade delivers continuous pressure along the entire blade.