Chevrolet Colorado starting issue, preventative maintenance for winter, Honda Pilot battery concerns

Q. I purchased a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado about two years ago. It has about 112,000 miles on it and is reliable most days. However, four or five times since I have owned this truck the engine doesn’t start. When I try to start it, I get complete silence. This typically happens when I have been running around doing errands, making multiple stops during maybe an hour of driving. I have tried a jumpstart and still, nothing happens. If I wait 30 minutes, it starts right up and runs as good as ever. My local repair shop which is really good hasn’t offered much help, with only “tow it in when it won’t start”. Of course, when I wait it restarts, any ideas?  

A. I suspect the problem is with an intermittent failure of the anti-theft system. Your truck like many General Motors vehicles has a PASSKEY antitheft system that reads the key each time it is inserted into the ignition. If the ignition is worn (common with this vehicle) the truck will have the same symptom as yours. Although before changing the ignition switch, I would check all of the electrical connections. Trying to jumpstart the truck rules out a faulty battery but not poor electrical connections. 

Q. I’m from Arizona and I’m concerned about the extreme frigid temperatures in the Northeast. What preventative steps can I take to make sure that my car runs the best it can? My 2016 Honda Accord has never seen temperatures under 50 degrees.  I heard about wind chill temperatures of minus 30 degrees here last year. 

A. It all starts with preventative maintenance. I would start with a test of the battery; the average life of a battery in the Northeast is just under five-years old. As a general rule, if the battery is three years old have it tested. The engine oil should be the proper grade, clean and full. Switching to synthetic oil, if you are using conventional oil, switching to synthetic oil, will provide easier starting and better cold-weather lubrication. The engine coolant should be clean and protect the car to well below freezing. A 50/50 mix of coolant and water will protect the engine to 34 degrees below zero. Winter tires will also give your car better traction in cold wintery weather. Regarding windchill temperatures, that only affect people not cars. 

Q. I have a Honda Pilot that spent two weeks at the airport parking garage. When I came back from my trip the car wouldn’t start so I called AAA. When they came out, they cleaned the battery connections and tested the battery. The guy determined the battery was just low on charge and everything was okay. He recommended that I have the battery fully recharged with a battery charger and rechecked just to make sure it was okay. The battery is fine, but the windows are not working properly. Any suggestions as to why and how can I correct this issue? Did something happen when the AAA guy jumpstarted the car? 

A. The problem is the battery became completely and the windows need to be reprogrammed. Follow this procedure; turn the ignition switch off, then back on. Move the driver’s window all the way down by holding the driver’s switch firmly down to the second detent, when the window reaches the bottom, hold the driver’s window switch in the auto-down position for 2 seconds. Then move the driver’s window all the way up without stopping by holding the driver’s switch firmly up to the second detent. When the window reaches the top, hold the driver’s window switch in the auto-up position for 2 seconds, this should reprogram the system.

John Paul is AAA’s Car Doctor. He is an automotive expert who has been writing and talking about cars for more than 30 years. He also hosts the Car Doctor radio program on WROL radio in Boston. Email John at jpaul [at] aaanortheast.com.

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