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The Yankee Express

August 13-September 10, 2021

Aug 10, 2021 12:29PM ● By Chuck Tashjian
Q.
My 2002 Chevy Avalanche 2500 with the 8.1-liter engine keeps turning on the check engine light and throwing code P1125 and when this happens the truck goes into reduced power mode. The accelerator position sensor has been replaced four times over a several years. The last one a GM part only lasted six months before the codes started again. Is there something else that could be causing this failure? At $300-$400 a repair, its getting expensive. My other frustration is the local shop techs only want to replace the sensor and not look for additional problems. Any help would be great. 

A.
Unlike some vehicles there is no mechanical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttle body at the engine. There are three sensors in the accelerator pedal assembly. Three separate signals, one that is redundant. Due to the redundancy if one sensor detects a problem the engine will operate normally, with the check engine light on. If two or more diagnostic codes are set involving more than one accelerator pedal pressure sensor the “reduced engine power” message will illuminate. Although the accelerator pressure sensor is the most common issue, other possibilities include wiring to the sensor or the throttle position sensor which is part of the valve body assembly.  

Q.
I have a crazy idea of turning a vehicle into a “tiny-house.” With what I learned from the pandemic, I don’t need to go to the office (my employer has gone 100 percent remote) and can work anywhere. I was thinking of subletting my apartment and buying a used Mercedes van or maybe a Ram Promaster van, adding cooking, bathing facilities and a sleeping/work area. I then wanted to add a solar panel and invertor for power. What do you think? 

A.
The idea has certainly become much more popular. Airstream trailers actually have a model that is half trailer and half office, just for that reason. On YouTube there are videos of everything from converted first generation Ford Broncos to van conversions, so it is certainly doable. On my radio program several years ago, I met Josh Theberge who converted a Promaster Van and travelled the country working remotely for several years, eventually building a second van. His experiences are pretty amazing. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/johnfpaul/episodes/2018-12-31T18_11_23-08_00

Q.
I was talking with my buddies the other day about oil changes which most of us do ourselves. When it came to filter choice everyone has an opinion. I told one friend that I use a Fram filter, and he said the “orange can of death,” implying the filter was terrible. What do you think and would you use one on your car? 

A.
Fram has been in business since 1934 and owns a huge percentage of the aftermarket filter sales. If the filters were poorly made, they would not still be around. Have I used Fram filters? Yes. But I will also say if you have any doubts use a factory oil filter. 

Q.
Everyone seems to have an SUV but I like a small sedan. I have read that you have recommended to readers to move to a small SUV for ease of entry, versatility and a better view of the road. Still, I am looking for a small sedan. I have narrowed my choices based on availability to a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra. Any thoughts on these cars? 

A.
I have just evaluated the newly updated 2022 Honda Civic and found it to be a delight. The car rides and handles well, is comfortable and very roomy for a small car. My only complaints are a bit of road noise and I still would like to see an actual tuning knob for the radio. The Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra are always a good choice. Personally I haven’t driven the Nissan Sentra in a few years, but other reviewers put it closer to the bottom of the list. 

Q.
I recently purchased a used Buick Regal with all-wheel-drive. I really like the car but compared to the 10-year-old Buick I traded in, this car has a clunk when shifting between reverse and drive. I went back to the dealer, and they said it was normal. What do you think? 

A.
Buick considers some clunk normal and although some customers may find it objectionable, if there are no worn components it is normal and should have no effect on durability and performance. Also since your new car is all-wheel-drive there are more components interacting with each other which will generate more noise.