Dear Doctor: I recently had the internal PCM computer board short out and fail on my 1998 Toyota Camry that only has 68,000 miles. The computer board was quite burned; therefore the mechanic could not find the root cause of the short. A used computer was placed in the car. So far the Camry is running well. What could have caused this? William
Dear William: The computers in today’s vehicles are very intricate. Computer circuit boards in any application will burn out from a short in the system it is connected to. It could be anything from switching solenoid, moisture, or a poor computer assembly weak, dirty solder joint, even a faulty electronic resistor or component from the factory. The used computer may still have the previous vehicle identification number and could present a problem at your next motor vehicle inspection. Make sure you have a receipt for the replacement computer, including the VIN number of the vehicle the computer was removed from.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2002 Ford F-250 pickup with the 5.4L V-8. I have a problem that no one has been able to repair. The problem is the ABS light flashes on and off, and then the speedometer stops working, and the engine temperature gauge goes to hot. What is going on? Harold
Dear Harold: I have actually resolved this issue on two trucks. I always check with the technician-support Identifix and Alldata web sites for any history of vehicle problems. Identifix did have a history on this issue. I followed the testing procedure as outlined, using our scan tool in the advanced setting to mode 6. The data on the scan tool found two fault codes: a misfire code and a loss of communication code. Next I followed the measured coil values and found one ignition coil out of specs. This faulty ignition coil was spiking the main computer ECU and causing the problem.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu with only 51,000 miles. The power steering stopped working. I shut the engine off, restarted, and the power steering came back. My mechanic said the repair could cost as much as $1,000. What’s your advice? George
Dear George: Without being able to actually see the condition, no technician will be able to make the correct assumption on what caused the loss of the power assist. If it happens again, get it to the shop while the power assist is not working.
Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Jeep Commander 4.7L V-8 with the automatic transmission. The transmission has two filters: one inside and the other is a return spin-on type. When I took it in for service at 36,000 miles the dealer said they never change the spin-on filter because the transmission will loose its prime. I asked them to fill the filter with fluid before they install it. They declined. What are you thoughts? Jim
Dear Jim: We change only the outside filters and have never had any problems. I do recommend the use of the factory fluid and filter.