Aug 15, 2023

Questions and answers from the ‘Car Doctor’

Q. I have a key fob that I want to program for my Honda Accord. It is a used car that I purchased, and it only has one fob, and I found an aftermarket fob on-line for $50. The dealer wants to charge me $250 to program it and $500 if I buy the fob from them. They told me that do not normally program aftermarket fobs. I have been looking on-line and found a scan tool, from XTOOL, the model is D8 which if I program two keys would pay for the tool. Any thoughts on this tool?

A. All I know about this tool is what I have seen online, and it certainly appears to offer a lot of features for a relatively low price. For consumer level scan tools, I like the tools from Innova as well as their Repair Solutions2 companion app. Although at this time I do not believe they have a tool that can program key-fobs. Shop owners tell me that they like the Launch and Autel, bi-directional scan tools, in addition to their traditional scan tools from OTC or Snap-On. I will be testing the XTOOL scan tool in the near future. Readers, have you used the XTOOL scan tool and what do you think? Email me at [email protected]

Q. I have a 2010 Mazda CX9 Honda Accordwith an intermittent problem. When turning I will sometimes get a thumping which I can feel through the armrest. I thought it might be the rear differential, so I changed the fluid but no change the thump was still there. I checked under the car, and everything looks solid. There are no wear marks on the exhaust as if it was hitting anything. Any ideas?

A. Since you are feeling the noise in the armrest, that tells us that the cause may be related to something in the rear of the vehicle. Although this model has had some issues with serious control arm corrosion and ball joint rust. I would also look at the struts and the exhaust one more time. The rubber exhaust hangers due to heat from the exhaust can get very hard and transmit vibration through the vehicle. In addition, the rear differential mounting rubber may become hardened and cracked, resulting in vibration and/or noise this is again most due to age and heat from the exhaust.

Q. Your column states that any question gets a personal reply, even dumb questions? My dumb question is what would happen if I put a few ounces of windshield washer fluid (blue stuff) in the radiator bottle? I have been driving the car and all seems fine.

A. This is a fairly common occurrence (so not dumb) and to paraphrase Carl Sagen “there are tedious question, naïve questions, but every question is a cry to understand-there are no dumb questions.” Windshield washer fluid, contains soap, alcohol and is mostly water, a few ounces should cause no harm. Of course, just to be safe you could have the cooling system flushed out.

Q. My 2018 Honda Accord driver’s side tire has been making noise for some time and increases the faster I go. I brought it to a mechanic thinking it was the bearing, but he said it wasn’t the bearing, but the tire was cupping. I then had the tires rotated and that tire balanced, but that didn’t help. From what I’m reading it could potentially be the shock, strut or bushings. Wanted to get your thoughts.

A. Since you moved the tire with irregular wear, to the rear and the noise didn’t travel, that should rule out the tire. At this point all you can do is put the car on a lift, block one tire so the noisy side turns and carefully run up the speed and listen with a probe around the wheel bearing to determine if that is the source of the noise. Other than that, CV joints don’t make that type of noise so that rules out the axles and then it only leaves the transaxle. Based on what you have told me, I would be looking very closely at the axle bearing and surrounding area (brake system, backing plate). Honda did have an odd noise/rattle that could come from the front struts and the diagnosis and repair is quite simple. Open the hood and remove the left and right strut bearing covers (they pop off) and see it there is still a noise. If not Honda has a new design rubber cover.

Q. We love our 2017 Ford C-Max plug-in hybrid which now has 50,000 miles I but recently we’ve noticed the passenger side carpet being wet even when there’s no rain. I suspect a plugged air conditioner drain-tube, but I don’t where it is located and what would be the best way to unclog it?

A. From your description I believe you are absolutely correct, that the evaporator drain is clogged, and the condensation is draining into the car. The Ford C-Max doesn’t use a rubber drain tube like many other vehicles. The drain is a plastic piece with an elbow that attaches to the bottom of the evaporator case. The drain is a bit hard to get to, but with the car up on a lift, it should be visible. I would start with using a short piece of stiff tubing or with to clean is out. Once you get the water moving, then you some low-pressure air to finish the process.

Got a car question, email the Car Doctor for a personal reply. [email protected]

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