Thanks for the insightful motoring advice every Wednesday. I have an irritating issue with my Honda Stream for which I need advice. On start-up in the morning after several hours of rest, the D light on the dashboard starts blinking and the engine produces an uncharacteristic whirring sound.
The car will jerk if you engage any gear and won't drive smoothly (It's like driving with the hand brake engaged). Often, turning the engine off, waiting for a few seconds, then turning it back on would stop the blinking — at least for the day.
The engine would sound normal too. Initially, the problem wasn't persistent but has since become the daily norm. My mechanic suggested we reset the car software, and that worked... but not for long. I've also replaced the transmission oil, but nothing is happening. What could the issue be?
You have heard of a Check Engine Light, yes? The little orange graphic shaped like the outline of an incline (pun very much intended) engine. When this light glows, it usually means something is up with the engine and needs checking.
Now, since the engine is made up of so many systems — fuel, electrical, lubrication, electronic etc, etc, the best way to decode that engine light is to plug the vehicle into a diagnostic machine, withdraw an error code and get down to work narrowing down the problem using that code.
The flashing “D” (Drive) light in the Honda Stream is the transmission’s translation of the Check Engine Light. It simply means “check your transmission” using the same method, more or less, that you would when troubleshooting a CEL: plug the ECU into a diagnostic machine and see what codes come pouring out.
Resetting the software is only curing the symptom, which is why the problem recurred. You did not deal with the problem itself; you tried to bury it. This rarely works. Change of ATF also didn’t work, which means this is not the problem either.
The problem could be anywhere else in the transmission, from the shift solenoids to clutch pressure sensors to lockup control modules to literally any of the other hundreds of parts with increasingly complex names that make up an automatic gearbox. Time to find a diagnostic machine, John.
There is a caveat here, though. While most car ECUs can be plugged into third party diagnostic equipment, some require proprietary tools found only at authorised dealers to access them.
I don't know if this is the case with the Stream's transmission, but as you embark on your journey of electronic problem-solving, keep this at the back of your mind. You may have to visit the Honda dealership for the diagnosis rather than just any random garage with a guy toting a hand-held scanner on its payroll.
I drive a 2008 Honda Stream. Lately, I can’t see anything while driving at night especially when it rains. It gets worse on an unmarked road. The car has HID headlights with D2S bulbs (4300K) that I understand should be bright. How can I improve the brightness?
Seems like today is the Stream’s turn to catch some dependability heat. Now, before we discuss the best way to singe the corneas of oncoming motorists, let’s first look at the extenuating circumstances.
I strongly dislike driving at night for the same reasons you list above, plus a few others up to, and including, but not limited to, greenhorn drivers who have either never heard of dipping (low) beams or could not be bothered to use them. It’s quite a tribulation motoring under the cover of darkness and it is an exercise I regard with the same enthusiasm that a cat has when facing the prospects of taking a bath.
I initially blamed it on El Turbo’s criminally weak headlamps, which are less for illumination and more for informing other motorists that there is in fact a motor vehicle in their vicinity and not two small children with dying flashlights strapped to their waists walking in the opposite lane. I cannot see anything, which is why El Turbo has become a strictly diurnal instrument.
But I’ve other cars, German ones, with passable orbs of illumination mounted on the fringes of their grilles. While the experience is most definitely a noticeable improvement, it still does not pass muster. Driving at night, especially on an unfamiliar road, is an exercise in glute-clenching, sweaty-palm, gritted-teeth anticipation of ripping off a sump on a hitherto unseen rock or slamming the brakes too late to avoid flattening a bodaboda rider whose economic status or financial training preclude him from replacing a burnt out rear light or even wearing a reflector jacket (these people exist), and I end up catching a case. Most of you may loathe the prevailing curfew rules, but for me, they are a blessing in disguise: I don’t have to drive in the dark any more.
Night-time rain takes an already bad situation and hands it to the devil for further enhancement. I kid you not, when it rains at night, I’d rather park on the side of the road and put on my hazard lights than continue pressing my luck to the point I exhaust my supplies of kismet and drive straight into a ditch.
There are options, the first being a military grade sociopath and installing after-market spot lamps packing the kind of white-hot wattage that people mistake for a camera flash rather than a vehicle accessory. Don’t do this. You will see but the people you are blinding will not, and they will drive into you. The same applies to replacing the bulbs in your headlamps with brighter affairs.
The other option is to do it like me and minimise night driving, but I don’t know what kind of life you live.
Maybe you really must drive at night, and not by choice, in which case try the following:
1. Adjust your headlamps, especially for height. This can be done at home if you are deft with a toolbox, or at a garage. Have them cleaned as well: you could again do this at home with a tube of toothpaste and a piece of cloth, or hang around at a garage long enough. Someone on foot is going to make an appearance carrying some paraphernalia that he will allege cleans your headlamps better than the blood of the lamb. Engage him.
2. Dim your dashboard lights. My highly advanced, albeit partially blind Subaru has a rotary switch that allows me to adjust the brightness of the instrument cluster through several stages. I don’t know if the Honda has this as well, but if it does, when driving at night [it] will have the dashboard lighting at its lowest level.
3. Get the correct eyewear, if at all. If you don’t have prescription spectacles, avoid any kind of eyewear when driving at night. If your bifocals are photochromatic, consider taking them off at night.
4. Angle your eyes away from oncoming lights to prevent being blinded. Look slightly away from the beams and let your peripheral vision take one for the team. Your sight will readjust and recover faster compared to staring directly into the sun.
5. Situational awareness. Before being blinded by oncoming vehicles, try and memorise your surroundings as much as possible while you can still see. This helps you continue driving because you already know what lies immediately ahead, even if you are temporarily blind.
6. Don’t drive faster than you can see. People love being reactionary, full steam ahead then drop anchor the moment normalcy is interrupted. This is the primary reason most crashes occur at night: you see the corner/pothole/bump/stalled truck/unlit bodaboda too late to execute any meaningful adjustment to your progress, and disaster follows. Drive at such a speed that you can stop or turn at any point within your scope of vision.
A corollary to this is: don’t drive from memory. Many people go the “najua hii barabara” way and wind up in the maw of a bulldozer parked haywire in a construction zone. Speaking of construction zones, notorious thoroughfares such as Waiyaki Way and Ngong Road have diversions, which switch by the hour. What you left in the morning is not what you will find at night. Use your eyes, not your gift of recollection.
Which of these three cars would you advise a first-timer to go for?
I want to buy my first car, hopefully Toyota. Which car would you recommend for a first-timer? The first characteristic I’m looking for is durability. However, I want to avoid the Ractis and the Passo, since I’ve seen how they ‘beat’ when scratched. How is a used Allion or Premio? Or do I just go for new Vitz? My budget is Sh700,000.
I know I said earlier the Vitz is durable, but that was in comparison to whatever else was on that particular list. When it comes to comparison with an Allion, of course the Allion is more robust in size and construction.
Or is it? At that price range you are looking at a heavily used unit that may not have much life left in it, while you are also looking at a fairly new Vitz (by “new” I mean new to us. It’s old to whoever had it first). As a first-timer, yes, you need a learning curve on owning and maintaining a car, but the steepness of this curve can be flattened a bit, to use contemporary terms. You want a reality check, but you do not want disillusionment.
It’s a bit of a dilemma because the Allion offers a lot more than just durability, and you may “land” (Kuangukia), on a good deal, but you can’t really depend on blind luck when you are this close to a million shillings. The Vitz offers a better guarantee of usefulness, so it may be the (difficult) choice to make.