What makes my car engine vibrate at a slow speed?

What makes my car engine vibrate at a slow speed?


John Paul, AAA Northeast Automotive Doctor, answers a question from a reader dealing with the issue of vibration.


s. I have a 2015 Kia Optima with 66000 miles and all dealer recommended maintenance has been done. At slow city driving speeds, I feel a noticeable engine vibration that persists when the tachometer stays close to 1,100 rpm. The engine seems to be pulling, if that is the correct term. It doesn’t soften unless you stop using the gas or depress the pedal more to speed up the vibration. In other words, I can’t maintain a steady speed at 1100 rpm without shaking. What do you think could cause this?

a. I’ll go back to the merchant and ask them to check the transmission codes. What you describe looks like the transmission torque converter stays closed. This is sometimes called deception. Kia has come out with an update for a part called the damped clutch solenoid which may address the problem. In addition, this can also be a combination of the design of the transmission and the start of a very slight engine misalignment. At 66,000 miles, if one of the spark plugs wears a little, it could overstate the condition.

s. Several weeks ago, my 17-year-old son bought a car for $4,500. In fact, the car, the BMW, looked like a good deal, but he then went back to the same seller hoping for a different color. The second car turned out to have a false title in addition to the returned odometer. We found this out with a Carfax report. My son and his mother informed me that they tried to get some of their money back and return the car, but the seller refused and may have blocked their phone numbers. Do you have any suggestions on how to proceed?

a. The first thing to determine is whether the seller is a legitimate car dealer or someone who buys and sells cars without a license. The seller might be someone who just jumps on the titles – selling a car they bought without re-registering it in their name. Depending on where you live, state agencies rarely participate in private party sales. If they are a legitimate auto dealer, you may be able to get some help through the dealer’s organization or your state’s attorney general. Odometer and property fraud is subject to state and federal laws and can result in serious fines. At this point, you may need to contact an attorney who specializes in auto fraud.

s. I have a 2006 Ford Mustang Convertible in perfect condition. It makes a clicking sound that cannot be located. I have checked the car, but all parts seem to be in good condition.

a. I’d like to take another look at all of the suspension components including the front struts and strut bearings. At 16 years old, there may also be some wear on the steering column. The Mustang, like many cars, uses two flexible joints that connect the steering column to the rack and steering gear. If one of these joints is worn, there will be rattling.

s. I have a 2008 Toyota Prius with 155,000 miles. It is in good condition for its age, but will need a catalytic converter. The car runs fine, it’s just noisy. Do you have any idea how much I should ask for a car and where I should put it up for sale?

a. I would like to list the car on cargurus.com, iseecars.com and even the Facebook marketplace. Determining the price is a bit tricky. The running price for this model is $7,000 to $9,000, depending on the condition. I’m sure you have a price on a new exhaust and catalytic converter, which can cost up to $2500 depending on where you take the car for service. I will scan the ads on the sites you mention and try to find a match for your car and then price it accordingly. My guess is about $6,500 USD is correct, but the prices for used cars are still crazy. What makes this car a little less attractive is that potential hybrid buyers will be interested in the hybrid’s battery life. Although buyers may be willing to take the chance of a 50-mile-per-gallon car.

John Paul is the Automotive Doctor at AAA Northeast. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive field and is an ASE certified Principal Technician. Email a car question to [email protected]. Listen to the Car Doctor podcast on johnfpaul.podbean.com.

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