My Honda Civic nearly stalls out

 Q. Driving our 2001 Honda Civic EX, when slowing down to a stop, the car nearly stalls out.  Just before the car stalls, the engine speeds up and just in the nick of time, stays running.  In the morning, when I start the car it idles high but after a couple of minutes settle down.  We had a full carbon cleaning process a couple months back and they are no warning lights blinking on the dashboard. This near stalling situation is becoming dangerous, any ideas?

A. The problem could be as simple as a vacuum leak. I would leave the car overnight with a repair shop so they can see the starting issue as well as the potential stalling problem. The other possibility is the idle air control motor (IAC) could be faulty, which would cause these symptoms. The part price can range from $165-$260 and the labor charge is about an hour to install the part.

Q. Someone told me they were losing air in the new tires they purchased.  When they took the car back to where they bought the tires, they were told there wasn't anything wrong with the tires or the rims.  The problem was due to them parking on a gravel driveway.  Could parking on a gravel driveway cause your tires to lose air to the point where you have to refill the tires with air every week? 

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A. I can’t possibly see how parking on gravel would cause tires to lose air. I believe that the problem with this car like many could be related to corrosion around the edge of the wheels. This corrosion will cause poor bead sealing and a slow leak. A good tire shop should be able clean and seal the wheels, depending on the condition of the wheels.

Q. At age 88, my mother has decided to give up driving.  She has a 2003 Chevy Cavalier with 12,400 miles of below 50 mph driving.  Despite the low mileage, she has changed the oil at least once per year and kept up with other fluids, belts, etc.  I plan to drive the car to Massachusetts from Florida—1500 miles.  Do I risk any damage to the engine by driving highway speeds for that distance over two days?  Should I allow more time for the trip and take a slower route?

A. I would have a local repair shop look over the car to look for any potential problems. I would pay extra attention to the tires, belts, hoses and brakes. I would also take it easy on the highway, driving the car the way you would break in a new car.

Q. I recently drove the newest Lexus ES 350 and really liked it, but I would like to buy an American car. Is there any car that is “Made in America” that you would recommend?

A. Buying an American car is harder than you may think. Many traditional domestic automakers manufacture cars in Mexico and Canada, and many Asian automakers build their cars here. One car that is certainly worth looking at is the Buick Lacrosse, made in Kansas City Kansas. The optional V-6 engine develops just over 300 horsepower and the ride and handling are quite good. The overall fit and finish, in my opinion, is on par with models from Lexus. In addition, the Lacrosse is available with all-wheel-drive, and considering the storms this winter, is a worthwhile option.

Subaru responds to the wandering Outback issue: Dominick Infante; product public relations manager Subaru of America, “we have had some feedback on this, but there is no defect and we cannot see a link mechanically. It’s subjective, and depends on the consumer’s driving ‘taste’ as to whether or not the driver thinks it is a problem.  Many other make cars exhibit similar issues in crosswinds, so this is not a Subaru-exclusive issue it is largely a question of aerodynamics.  Some vehicle shapes resist side winds better than others.  We also design the Outback to have a more “forgiving” feel in terms of off-road steering, so no harsh steering jolts when you hit large dips and bumps etc. off-road. That can mean a bit less on-center feel.” Readers seem to agree. So far in the past week, opinions vary- that their new Outback is hard to drive or not bad or no problem at all. I’ll keep you posted.