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Why your car vibrates when on low speed and in the morning

Wednesday July 17 2019

 ATF in your transmission

Check the level and quality of ATF in your transmission. I’m fairly certain that is where the problem lies. PHOTO | POOL | NMG 

BARAZA JM
By BARAZA JM
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Dear Baraza,

I recently discovered your column and was instantly captured. Your articles are very insightful.

I drive an Allion 1.8 old model. It has been having this issue where it vibrates slightly and sometimes hard when accelerating. The vibration is especially hard in the morning and on low speed, but is hardly noticeable on high speed. It will vibrate and then once it picks up speed, it goes quiet.

I have tried three mechanics so far, but the issue still persists.

What could the issue be?

Regards,

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Chris

Hi Chris,

If you only just discovered this column, then you have missed out on a clean nine years of analytical and critical excellence in the local automotive industry. Anyway, self- aggrandising soliloquies aside...

What did the three mechanics say? I'd expect all three to make a beeline for the transmission because the symptoms match a temperature-related problem, whose origins we could start searching for in the folder marked “Low or bad ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid)”. The cure usually means topping up or flushing and replacing the current fluid.

This is why I think you have low transmission fluid levels. When cold (morning), fluid volume is low and density is high. The fluid does not perform its functions as it should, hence the vibration. As the fluid warms up from continued operation and at higher speeds, its volume increases — this is basic physics; all matter, including fluids, expands when heated  —  and its density reduces making it have more “body” and fill out more to the point it attains the minimum level required for normal operation. That is the point the vibrations disappear.

So, check the level and quality of ATF in your transmission. I’m fairly certain that is where the problem lies.



Toyota Allion.
Toyota Allion.

How come you rarely cover Mitsubishi vehicles?

Hi Baraza,

I have been reading your articles for the last three years and you rarely cover Mitsubishi vehicles. What could be the reason? I own Mitsubishi Colt full time 4WD as my first car and I am loving it.

Educate us, brother.

Thank you.

Hello Brother,

There is a very good reason I have rarely covered Mitsubishi vehicles. That is because most of them lie on the extreme ends of the spectrum of excellence, and when it comes to reviews and comparisons, this tends to present problems for more than a few people.

Some Mitsubishis are very good, such as the long-defunct-but-somehow-still-on-sale FH215 truck. Sure, it's now obsolete and deserves to retire since it is almost 25 years old, but for those 25 years it has had quite a cult following to the extent that there was a waiting list for buyers and two-year old trucks commanded the exact same price as zero mileage examples, shoddy brakes notwithstanding. I drove one and reviewed it and had nothing but high praise for it right up to the moment where my paymasters asked how much I'm willing to pay them for that review. Wait, what?

Apparently my accolades were so effusive they qualified as an advertorial according to the standards of the media group; and these are typically not dished out for free.

Pay up or your article hits the cutting room floor. That whoosh you just heard was the sound of that review floating slowly downwards towards the editor’s recycle bin. Strike one.

A year before, I’d gone into full anorak mode one Sunday morning when my late friend The Paji and I decided to get our petrol-headedness on; with The Jaw as a bemused witness. That dawn activity was a face-off between two fairly obvious Japanese rivals: An Impreza WRX STi and a Lancer Evolution VI. It was not a standard comparison because the vintage of the two cars had a bit of disparity: The Lancer was from 1999 while the Impreza was from 2004. Not exactly a fair starting point, but then again, not comparing apples to rocks either. To make the field less even, the Evo was close to stock, while the STi was oozing modifications out of its wheel-wells and dripping aftermarket power out of its tail pipe. It even had a short-shift kit. The point was to approach both cars from an enthusiast’s perspective and not necessarily in the form of consumer advice.

What I saw was hellfire

Well, it was a morning to remember. We put the cars through their paces and what do you know, the Impreza lost. It’s not that it’s a bad car – I rather like me some Imprezas myself – it's just that the Evo was so much better at carving corners – which is what these two are built for anyway. I was so excited by the proceedings that I did the write-up immediately afterwards, and sent it in. My editors said good job, very interesting to read. The Paji said good job, very incisive and insightful. The Jaw said good job, you just signed your own death warrant. Wait, what?

Up until that point I had yet to encounter the online presence of the Subaru Fan Club; and when I eventually did, The Jaw's ominous words sunk in with full effect. There is no wrath like that of a forum-dwelling, brand-obsessed internet commenter whose opinion differs from yours. What I saw was hellfire.

The fan boys read that article and to say that they were displeased would be to describe a volcanic eruption as “fairly warm”. How dare I declare an ageing Evo to be superior to one of their more modern prides and joys? (To be honest that Impreza was really fast and looked beautiful with a subtle body kit but still...) Many internationally-acclaimed and professionally established motoring journalists — including the great Jeremy Clarkson himself — had failed to find a clear winner between the two brawlers and here I was with an opinion? Who did I think I was?

An internet thread dedicated to my downfall was immediately created; a thread which quickly sprawled to over 1,000 vitriolic and hate-filled comments. I was invited to my own execution at around the 600 mark; majority of these comments were along the lines of my empty headedness, my inability to drive, my sexual orientation, the nerve and misdirected gumption, my stupidity and lack of knowledge; all this peppered with offers to drive lesser Imprezas and only under strict supervision, and offers to lop off my head (perhaps literally) for thinking I knew better. Yes, I was threatened repeatedly and with gravity to the point one particularly irate fan-boy trawled my various social media platforms in search of my residential address and failing to find it, publicly put a contract on my head: he would pay so much money to anyone who told him exactly where I lived and what car I drove. In the meantime, I was invited to stay away from reviewing any more Subarus. Strike two.

Three years later, I bought my own Subaru.

So, two glowing reviews of Mitsubishi vehicles and my life and career teeter on the brink. What next?

There was one particular mini-review I did of the V80 Pajero that served as transport for yours truly through part of the Great Run XIV; the Nairobi-Namanga-Amboseli-Kimana leg, to be precise. The owner of that Pajero, a friend and fellow enthusiast, also drives a Lancer Evolution IX. Go figure. The review revealed the vehicle to be smooth and comfortable for a diesel-powered four-cylinder, but being a diesel-powered four-cylinder, using the word “power” to describe its performance may have been ironical. Perhaps the fact that it had done close to a quarter million kilometres contributed to the irony, but I have to issue a disclaimer: I didn't find it lacking in power, the owner himself did; and he mentioned hopes of getting a 3.8-litre V6 petrol iteration of the same car. He has owned a few V80s and he’s a petrol head so I believe he knows what he’s talking about.

What about the other side of the divide?



Mitsubishi Colt.
Mitsubishi Colt.

Well, I did review an old-model L200 Warrior double-cab that was badly in need of some maintenance and that review immediately put both the owner and the sanctioned importer at serious loggerheads with me. The owner was hurt that his kindness in providing road test resources was met with perceived vilification from an ungrateful hack; the brand holder firmly believed I was out to single-handedly destroy sales of the L200 for reasons best known to myself. In my defence, I only write what I observe; I try not to extrapolate things. The vehicle was smoky and underpowered, and its electrics and electronics showed serious signs of fatigue, facts that I did not hesitate to report. Needless to say, I received emails from various L200 drivers; missives filled with curse-words so severe they make Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz sound like gospel artistes.

The human mind is capable of incredible gymnastics when presented with painful truths; which is why this column tends to draw overreactions from people who think they have been offended. One such offense was dabbling with the enemy; the enemy in this case being a fellow motoring columnist who was not impressed by a Mitsubishi ASX he was given to review; and he was not backward about coming forward with his misgivings and distaste for the vehicle.

It should be obvious by now that he was asked never to darken the doors of the franchise premises ever again as long as he was alive, and probably when dead too. He simply was not welcome there anymore. I was in a quandary: I am a strong supporter of independent thought (within reason) and the said columnist is actually in my employ; but then again I cannot spend my entire professional life at war with car manufacturers: I'm not so foolish as to think I will win. Bridges have to be mended and I was in the middle of just such a repair operation when the above transpired.

Strained relationships

What now? Do I chastise my colleague and become part of the “system” that believes motoring journalists should become PR mouthpieces in exchange for some samosas and a weekend with a double-cab; or do I support my colleague and sever the last delicate thread that was precariously holding the very frail relationship with the distributor together, and thus put my professional future at risk?

You get the picture. The past has not been rosy as far as that particular brand goes. It’s not just Mitsubishi, there are other brands (to remain unnamed for now) that we have had strained relationships with. You can determine what they are by some research into the history of this column and the (lack of) reviews of those brands’ cars. It is not rocket science. That being said, let’s talk about the Colt you were asking about:

You refer to “a Colt with full-time 4WD”, but fail to specify the model (or year), so I can only assume it is the Z30 model. Nippy little thing, especially in Ralliart Version R form. Some call that a beginner’s Evo. I’m very curious about how life with the Colt is taking you. Send in more detailed word on how ownership has been so far. “I'm loving it” is a bit non-specific for a column known to delve into the tiniest details.

Disclaimer: This entire treatise is a reflective anecdote recounting the history of this column and in no way defines the current relationship between Simba Corp, holders of the Mitsubishi brand, and myself. As of the time of writing, the relationship between us could best be described as “cordial”. It wasn’t always this way, but attitudes change, and people mellow as time passes, and we grow up. I sincerely look forward to engaging the brand in less dramatic fashion going forward. Look out for more Mitsubishi reviews, hoping they happen.

Having car trouble? Write to [email protected]

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