Jetta lost two fan speeds

Plus: Bucking Ford, shaking BMW

By John Paul, AAA Car Doctor
October 22, 2008

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Q. I have two questions, both about my 1995 VW Jetta. The air conditioning fan blows only on the second and fourth speeds. I've noticed that the air conditioning fan switch inside the car appears to be melted on one side. Any ideas what is wrong? I'm also wondering why the car normally runs perfectly, but every now and then the "check engine" light illuminates. When this happens, the car loses power (runs slower). Once the light is off it regains power. Should I start to look for a new car?

A. The first place to look is at the blower motor resistor. If the resistor has burned out it is possible to have lost two of the four fan speeds. I would take a close look at the switch as well. If the electrical connection has become poor it could generate enough heat to damage the switch. Regarding poor performance, have the car's computer checked for fault codes. Once the technician has a code, it should assist in the repair process. When looking at this car, don't overlook the basics. Something as simple as a faulty ignition coil could be the problem.

Q. I have a 2001 Ford Expedition. When driving at a speed around 35 to 40 m.p.h. I feel a slight bucking. I brought it to my repair shop and they stated it was a torque converter clutch sticking. They flushed the transmission and then supplemented an additive to help with the problem. Do you think that will solve this issue?

A. This has been a common issue with many Ford products. In many cases flushing out the transmission and adding a friction modifying additive seems to cure the problem. Be aware that today's vehicles can use a variety of specialized fluids and it is critical to use the correct specification fluid.

Q. My 1996 Chevy S-10 with a 4.3 liter V-6 engine will only start on the third try as of late. This only happens first thing in the morning or if the truck has been sitting for four hours or more. I've replaced numerous sensors with no luck of correcting the problem. I've also heard that this is a common problem with S-10s and Chevy Blazers, but no one has an answer of how this can be corrected. Can you offer any advice?

A. I would start with a test of fuel pressure as the specification for your vehicle is 55 to 61 pounds of pressure. Anything less can cause a hard starting problem.

Q. I have a 1999 Saab 9-5 2.3 wagon and it is severely pulling to the right. The gentleman I purchased the car from thinks it is the ball joint. How do I check this car to see if it is the ball joint?

A. The vehicle is raised on a jack and the ball joint is checked for looseness. For a ball joint to cause the car to pull it would be very obvious and would be worn to the point where the car is dangerous to drive. A second opinion may be a wise idea.

Q. My 1994 BMW 530i has always been difficult to start. Recently it wouldn't start at all. I removed the spark plugs out and dried them out. The engine turns over, but just won't start. What do you think is wrong?

A. In the most simple of terms, for any engine to run it needs fuel, ignition and engine compression. It is possible that the ignition has become weak enough that there wasn't sufficient spark to get the engine started. It is also possible the engine has developed enough wear that it has a compression problem. To find the problem, a technician will check all of these items as well as perform a compression test.

Q. My BMW 325xi is starting to shake. At first, it was only noticeable when I accelerated up to 45 miles per hour, but now, it is also noticeable to me when I use the brakes. Any thoughts?

A. It could be a combination of problems. Start with a thorough inspection of the steering system as well as the well and tires. The vibration felt when you are braking could be a result of worn or out of round brake rotors.

John Paul is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. He can be reached at