- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

I own a four-cylinder 1993 Toyota Camry. The engine will just shut off when coming to a stop or just idling. I have replaced a lot of parts - including the fuel pump, distributor and oxygen sensor - and performed a complete tune-up. This is the only problem with the car. Do you have any recommendations?

Did anyone check for trouble fault codes? I've addressed this complaint twice in my shop and on both occasions the problem was an intermittent open circuit in the coolant sensor. The coolant sensor can fail without setting a fault code. To retrieve trouble fault codes is not as simple as just plugging a scan tool in under the dash. The technician will have to retrieve the codes under the hood at the test connector.

Last October, I purchased a 2008 Chevrolet Impala with 43,000 miles. The factory remote car starter worked intermittently, so the dealer replaced a hood latch switch and that took care of the problem for a short while. What could be the problem?

A factory remote car starter has many built-in safety default systems. I've seen both hood and door latch switch faults. Sometimes the computer can store a fault code of the event that caused the remote start failure.

I’m sitting on the fence about buying a 2009 Infiniti M35 rear-wheel-drive sedan. I live in New York and, as you know, we do get snow during the winter. I like everything about the car except the rear-wheel drive. I do not want the expense of an all-wheel-drive car. What are your thoughts?

For your winter-driving concern, the solution is simple, and we do this on 90 percent of rear-wheel-drive cars in the Boston region. Replace the stock tires and wheels with an aftermarket set of snow tires and alloy wheels. You do not have to buy expensive speed-rated ice-snow tires. In fact the rim size can be smaller, as long as the overall tire diameter is close to the original. I have done this on my vehicles and believe it to be in the best interest of my concerned customers.

I own a 2002 Nissan Altima four-cylinder that has an intermittent no-start condition. The engine will crank over fine but does not start. I got the car towed, and the shop found the spark plugs wet with gasoline. They replaced the spark plugs and the engine started up. There are no trouble fault codes in the computer. I have replaced all the tune-up parts, but still have the same problem. Can you help?

A flooding condition on a fuel-injected vehicle indicates that there is too much fuel entering the engine. When a fuel-injected engine floods, we have to look closely at the fuel management system. I checked with our Identifix Web site for a history of this problem on this model. There is a pattern of coolant temperature failure that can cause the flooding condition in this vehicle. Another possible source for flooding conditions are faulty fuel pressure regulators.

I'm a new auto shop owner and have read your auto repair advice column for more than 10 years. I need to upgrade my computer scan tools and have been thinking about subscribing to Alldata and Identifix. Both companies have a monthly service charge, and I do not know whether this would be worth the expense. What are you thoughts on both companies?

Your No. 1 priority is customer satisfaction and communication with the customer. Your No. 2 priority will be access to information for making the correct repairs, not just replacing parts. There is no one scan tool that does it all. You will need two or three scan tools for different manufacturers. Be very careful on your selection. My advice is to test the tool. Most tool venders will let you try a scan tool for a week and some offer how-to classes. I use Alldata daily and would never be with out it. This is a must for your customer information: flat-rate bill time for the job, price for parts and part numbers, in-depth troubleshooting and how to actually do the repair and special tools if needed. As for Identifix, it's like a football team where each technician is a specialist in a particular car line. Both companies will give you a no-charge, one-week trial. Trust me, you'll subscribe.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail questions to [email protected]

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