Owner Wants to Put Snow Chains on AWD Vehicles

January 29, 2011/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS ASK THE AUTO DOCTOR BY JUNIOR DAMATO

Dear Doctor: I’ve been told that all-wheel-drive cars cannot use tire chains or cables. I have a Subaru and Ford Freestyle with AWD and live in an area where there is a lot of ice and snow. I’d still like to use tire chains. Is this advisable? Donna
Dear Donna: There are light-duty straps that can be attached, but they must be put on all four wheels. I do not recommend the use of the old style heavy-duty chains on AWD vehicles. I suggest you buy a separate set of black steel wheels with an aggressive snow tire. I prefer the non-very-soft ice compound for the winter driving season. The very-soft ice design snow tire has a rapid wear factor when driven on dry asphalt roads.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1997 Dodge Stratus with 225,000 miles. I have a bucking problem with the car. When driving say 65 mph, and lightly letting off the gas pedal, and then lightly applying gas again to maintain speed, the car starts to buck. It shows no codes. I have replaced the throttle positioner, cam sensor, wires, plugs, PVC, fuel filter, a hose to the PVC valve, and had the throttle body cleaned. Can you help? Bob
Dear Bob: Very likely the EGR valve is not closing 100 percent when decelerating on the highway. If the EGR valve does not close 100 percent, then as you lightly step on the gas pedal the engine runs lean, which causes the bucking. Another possibility is the engine timing is too far advanced, either by the computer, timing chain or timing belt slack. Have the technician bypass the EGR valve for testing purposes to start with. This problem usually only happens in high gear with manual transmission vehicles. Unlike automatic transmission vehicles, there is no transmission slippage with manual transmission vehicles.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1996 Mazda 626 with the automatic transmission. I removed the right axle to replace it and now cannot get it back in the transmission. I even tried to re-install the old axle and could not get it back in. What do your suggest? Bill
Dear Bill: The problem most likely is the inner clip fell down and now the axle will not slide back over the locking clip.

1996 Mazda 626

We use a small amount of grease to hold the clip and make sure the open part of the clip is at the bottom. I ensure this will work and the axle will slide in with a slight tap from a hammer.
Dear Doctor: Our teenage daughter has a rare condition called “RSDS,” which translates to “every single bump hurts” nerve damage. Can you give me direction on where to start searching for a smooth ride? Molly
Dear Molly: There are many makes of vehicles on the market today. A lot of them have low-profile tires (55-60 series tires). Vehicles with these size tires tend to have stiffer suspensions and harder rides. The only suggestion I can make is for you and your daughter to test-drive as many vehicles you can. Travel the roads that will be driven frequently.
Dear Doctor: I’m very interested in the 2011 Dodge Durango. The dealer let me test-drive it for a couple of hours and I was impressed, but I have a long memory of the problems over the years with some of the Dodge systems. What do you think of the 2011 Durango? Martin
Dear Martin: I drove the fully loaded 2011 Durango with a sticker price of $48,000. It had everything from heated front and second row seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 506-watt audio system, and steering hub controls. The power from the 5.7 Hemi was more than you would expect, flowing through a five-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive made an easy commute in the snow. This Durango also had the 2-speed transfer case with low range. I have to compliment the design team on this vehicle. This is not the old Durango in any way shape or form. Gas mileage average on the highway was 20 mpg. — Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2011