Car has a ping

  • 130,000 MILES
Car has a ping. The repair shop has serviced the injected system replaced plugs. They told me that the 3.5 engine had this problem and Chrysler could not fix it. They said that they found this info in a service release memo. Whatever that is. They also said that a small knock or ping would not hurt the engine. Premium gas helps but it is still a problem that I have spent hundreds on and it most certainly lowers the value of my car. This is to say nothing of the fact that my respect for Chrysler motors is not what I thought it was. If there is such a memo I need a copy. If this is a falsehood I need the answer. I have taken very good care of this car as I do with all my cars. I have driven it longer than normal because it's still a good car or at least I would like to believe so. Please help me find this information. Respectfully Matt
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 AT 6:53 PM

1 Reply

You need a different mechanic. If a noise was normal you would have heard it during the initial test drive before you bought the car.

A manufacturer will issue a recall when a problem is identified that could affect safety, emissions, or customer satisfaction. That last one is subjective and depends on how customer-friendly their business practices are. Many of us feel Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler are tops in that area.

A service bulletin is different. Owners are not notified, no repairs are automatically free unless the car is still under warranty, and any system can be involved. Bulletins simply cover things that have shown up on numerous vehicles AND can be difficult to diagnose. They are intended to save time for mechanics and owners, and they do not repeat what is already in a service manual. Service bulletins describe the condition, how to test for it and verify the cause, and most importantly, how to solve it. They will not issue a service bulletin stating a noise or running problem is normal and it should be ignored.

The exception is if the problem relates to a company that is more interested in short-term profits than building customer loyalty and satisfaction. GM had a lot of complaints about spark knock in the '70s and their official response was "spark knock is the sound of better fuel mileage". When they stall long enough and avoid taking responsibility they know those cars will go away and fewer and fewer people will be complaining. Examples of that customer-unfriendly business practice include their first design of lockup torque converters, and their "morning sickness" problem with rack and pinion steering gears. That disastrous repair was intended to just get the cars out-of-warranty so the owners had to pay for the proper and much more expensive fix.

Chrysler was the most innovative manufacturer for decades with things that really benefited owners, like the alternator, (a term they copyrighted), anti-lock brakes, lockup torque converters, air bags, and computer-controlled ignition timing to name a few. They often got a bad wrap because problems showed up later that they hadn't expected but today all of those innovations are standard on all cars in some form. The problem with the "Lean Burn" Computer, (1976) was that to make a change in the programming required designing and building a different one and that could take many months. Beginning as early as the early 1990s they developed computers that were rather generic, then had the software installed for the specific vehicle it was going into. Later if a car was found to exceed the allowable limits for emissions under a specific set of driving conditions, or there was a common complaint of something like a hesitation or stumble the computer could "reflashed" with updated software rather than replace the whole thing. Your car is no different. If there is a service bulletin related to engine knock, chances are it will involve a reflash, otherwise some other remedy will be spelled out.

If even the dealer can't solve the noise, ask politely to meet with the district representative or to be directed to the nearest Chrysler training center. The district rep. Visits each dealership once a month to get involved with complaints the dealer is unable to solve for any of a number of reasons. Often the dealer will suggest the meeting with the rep. And they will set up the appointment. That rep. Has the authority to go way beyond what the dealer is allowed to do, and they know about remedies even some dealers aren't aware of yet.

The Chrysler trainers put on classes for the mechanics at their facilities but to avoid making a lot of them travel long distances they also use remote classrooms. We had some really effective instructors use my classroom a few times a year as one of three remote locations in my state, and they allowed me to sit in when I had the time. (I also attended those classes when I worked at a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership). In between delivering those classes they spent their time learning from their instructors, and investigating customer complaints. THAT is where a big percentage of the causes of problems are identified and the solutions are developed. The engineers and the lawyers have to approve those remedies, then they show up as service bulletins. In the rare event a condition is normal and will not reduce the life expectancy of any part the cause will still be listed and the course of action will be "for information only".

With all the computer controls you won't hear spark knock on any car today unless there's something wrong. You can prove that by test-driving another car like yours. If your mechanic is right they will all make the same noise.
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Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 AT 8:21 PM

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