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Q: Mechanical Inquiries

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I just bought this vehicle from the owner and noticed there are a few things thay dont seem quite right with it.

1 The steering wheel is really "loose" feeling. I can turn the steering wheel quite a bit of distance before it actually turns my tires. Also the steering wheel is hard to turn while the vehicle is stationary.

2 While sitting stopped in the vehicle at a red light, the engine will rev up and the needle on my rpm gauge will increase for a few seconds and then go back down. It repeats this the entire time the vehicle is stopped and having it in park or drive makes no difference.

3 To even get the vehicle to start I have to pump the gas pedal while turning the key ignition.

Thanks for your help!

My car has 308000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: I’ll address each individually. 1 The loos...

I’ll address each individually.

1 The loose steering and hard to turn at low speeds can be related or completely separate. Excessive play in the steering can be cause by loose or worn steering components such as tie rods, drag link, ball joints, etc. When these parts wear, they can develop excessive movement. The steering will then have to overcome this movement before the wheels respond. These are just a few things a certified technician can inspect.

The steering being hard to turn at low speeds can be related to any of these suspension components being loose or worn. There other faults that can contribute to hard steering as mentioned here. The steering unit can be worn internally also. If the gears are excessively worn or pressure valves are not functioning properly, power-assist from the power steering pump may not be up to proper specifications. The power steering pump itself can also be at fault. Low fluid or worn internal parts in the pump can cause steering pressures to be out of specifications as well.

2 A high or fluctuating idle can be caused by a number or faults. A faulty idle speed / idle air control motor can cause surging even if the check engine light is not on. Sometimes sensors like these can be "out of range" - operate is bit out of specifications - without being shorted or broken. This can sometimes set a fault code and turn the check engine light on. Sometimes not. A vacuum leak can also cause surging. If the engine is somehow taking in more air, it can upset the balance the engine control unit is trying to achieve with performance, economy, idle speed, etc. A technician can scan the system to isolate the cause of a high or surging idle.

3 Hard starting can be attributed to a vacuum leak as well. Other causes can be low fuel pressure due to a weak fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator, or even worn spark plugs.

Have a certified technician inspect your vehicle to isolate the causes of all these issues.

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