Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Several possible causes for sudden deceleration

John Paul

Q. My father listens to your radio program and said to reach out to you with a question. My husband’s car suddenly slowed down. It has happened twice on the highway, he’ll be driving the slowdown happens, he pulls over to the breakdown lane, and the car barely moves. Any ideas? 

A. This could be the result of a weak fuel pump, faulty sensor, or even the beginning of a catalytic converter issue. It could also be a bit of a driver error. In many cars today, if your left foot brake or your foot lands on the brake pedal while still on the accelerator the car will lose power for several seconds and then return back to normal. 

Q. I’m the keeper of six cars, one boat and a Quad in my family and you recommended a scan tool in the past and it has worked out well. One of the scan tool functions is a battery test. It seems okay, and will state good or bad, but I want to see more. I want to read amp ratings and would like to test the boat and Quad battery, any thoughts?  

A. The tester we use at AAA is made by B2Q and is very accurate, but pricey and the one I would always recommend for a professional. Recently I have been using a battery tester from Topdon (a company I never head of until they sent me one) The tester is the Topdon BT100 and I have tested several good batteries and about a dozen “bad” batteries. My testing included a 12-volt Prius AGM battery, marine batteries, full sized AGM batteries and conventional batteries and so far, the testing is quite accurate when compared to more expensive tools. The one possible shortcoming is that the readings are not temperature compensated, which could mean that batteries tested at very hot or very cold temperatures may not be as accurate as a 70 degree day. This tester is about $60 and recently sells refurbished online for $30. 

Q. I was wondering if you had any insight on this recall. I received a recall notice on my 2013 Hyundai Elantra back in October.  The recall number is NHTSA 23V651000.  It relates to the antilock brakes and brake fluid. As of today, Hyundai still does not have a fix for this. Have heard anything, or do you have any insight on this, i.e., why it’s taking so long for them to find a fix for it?

A. The majority of the notifications went out in November, and it isn’t unusual for the repair parts to take six months or more to ramp up. An example in our family we have a 2015 Volkswagen with an airbag recall. The recall is over a year old and just now the dealers are starting to have parts available for the repair. The recall on your car has to do with fluid leaking internally into the antilock brake system and there is a possibility of an electrical fire. Looking at the recall information, the repair looks relatively simple and similar to one I had on my own car where the dealer replaced the antilock brake fuse and fuse box cover. I would call the 800 number for Hyundai customer assistance to get an update, since this repair seems relatively simple. If there is any consolation of the 3.3 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles, there have been 22 cases of smoke or fire, and no injuries or crashes. Although it’s a safety recall and it should absolutely be performed, the chance of something happening based on the case numbers are very low.   

Q. I am hoping you can help me with a reoccurring problem I have with my 2009 Chevy Malibu.  The headlights are constantly not working.  First one will not go on and then the other one will not work.  We have changed the wires and tightened up the bulbs, but it still happens.  The lights are not dead because if I press the unlock button on the car, both headlights will go on.  But if I start the car usually one of them will go out again.  Your help would be greatly appreciated.

A. The connectors to the headlights (low beams) have been especially problematic. After checking them for signs of melting I would check the four fuses, associated wiring, and ground connections.  Although each headlight has its own power supply, the four bulbs share two grounding points. I would remove those ground wires and clean the connections of any rust and corrosion.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.