The Car Doctor

Jaguar's Indian owners, fuel injector cleaners, bygone tune-ups

By John Paul, AAA Car Doctor
August 7, 2008

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Q. I about to retire and even with these high gas prices I want to reward myself with my favorite car, a Jaguar. I'm considering the Jaguar XKR. I have two concerns: I realize Ford has recently sold Jaguar to a company in India and (question) the overall reliability. I have heard stories about Jaguar cars; it's always the same. Great to drive, horrible to own. What is your take?

A. It is hard to say how the new owners will treat Jaguar and Land Rover (they were sold as a package deal). Who owns the company and where they are located, I feel, is not a major concern. After all, Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen and Aston Martin is owned by a Kuwaiti investment company. More important is the "spirit" of the company. As long as the spirit of the company is allowed to thrive I believe the cars will be fine. I have just recently driven the Jaguar XKR and found the car to be a delight. There was not a rattle or squeak and the car performed flawlessly. The 420 horsepower supercharged engine was sizzling fast and still returned almost 22 miles per gallon.

Q. I have a one-year-old Toyota with 18,000 miles on it. Is there any problem with using Lucas fuel injector cleaner? Recently I went to the dealer for a 15,000 mileage service and they demanded $125 extrafor cleaning the fuel injectors in addition to the normal services. What do you think?

A. You can certainly use a fuel injector cleaner as a maintenance item. The cleaner will help remove deposits from the injectors and the valves. As for the dealer demanding $125 for cleaning the injectors, there is no specific requirement to clean the fuel injection system. Although it can't hurt, the service is not required.

Q. I have a 2005 Chrysler minivan; the last time it went for service I mentioned that the gas pedal sticks and it runs a bit rough when it starts up. I got the car back and the service manager suggested a fuel system service and a tune-up. Is all this necessary for a vehicle with just 35,000 miles on it?

A. Tunes-ups are almost nonexistent. The spark plugs in your car will last up to 100,000 miles. This doesn't mean that engine maintenance should be ignored. The air filter should be inspected and the engine controls checked. The sticking gas pedal is caused by a dirty throttle body. Some vehicles will develop deposits on the throttle body that causes the throttle plate to stick. Cleaning the throttle plate is a minor repair that uses a soft brush and an aerosol throttle body cleaner. This service may also help with the start up hesitation issue that you are experiencing.

Q. My 2001 Infiniti QX4 normally rides fairly smoothly in the city,however on a trip from Chicago to Springfield, on the interstate once I got up to a speed higher than 60 mph the vehicle appeared to jerk forward every few revolutions; the ride was no longer smooth. I pulled into a gas station and looked at the tires expecting to see a low tire, but the inflation was okay. I started back on the road and it started again, so I turned back to Chicago, traveling no greater than 60 mph. I still could feel the jerking motion, however it was not as bad as going at 70 mph. Any thoughts?

A. Before repairs can be performed we need to determine if the problem is related to the tires or engine performance. The problem could be a slight "miss" in the engine that is causing the car to buck. The problem could also be a defective or damaged tire that could be causing a similar symptom. At this point I can only suggest going for a ride with a competent mechanic so they can properly diagnose the problem.