Ask a Mechanic: Struggling with your car’s shifter? Its cable may be the problem.
In today’s column we discuss road trip tool kits and seizing gear shifters.
Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In today’s column we discuss road trip tool kits and seizing gear shifters.
Dear Ask a Mechanic,
I’m a fairly new driver who loves road trips and I plan on driving long distances. What’s a checklist of tools I should have on hand to deal with flat tires, dead batteries, and other common issues that arise that drivers can deal with themselves? – Road trip ready
Zafar Habib, co-owner of Scarborough’s Humble Autohaus, said the best tool is CAA or a similar company that offers help on demand. If you insist on fixing certain issues yourself then there are a few tools Habib recommends.
A portable tire inflator will help deal with wheels with low air pressure. Small booster packs —widely available in the automotive sections of most stores — will assist with dead batteries. Jumper cables can also help with dead batteries. A basic-first aid kit is a must and you should also consider keeping a pair of locking pliers, and a small set of screwdrivers and wrenches appropriate for your vehicle.
Dear Ask a Mechanic,
I drive a 2010 BMW X3. When I start my vehicle in the morning, it’s sometimes difficult to move the car’s gears, especially putting it in reverse. This has been happening for a couple months now and has persisted through snowstorms and recent heat waves but I have noticed the problem gets worse in the colder weather. What do you think the issue is? – Stuck in place
Habib said it’s hard to diagnose this complaint without examining the vehicle. But from the sounds of it, he believes it could be one of two possible things: a problem with the transmission or a problem with the shifter cable. Since the issue is worse in the winter, it’s more likely to be an issue with the latter. The cable is seizing up. Habib explained that when this happens, the cable can no longer move the lever on the transmission. This is an issue he has dealt with in numerous vehicles. A short-term solution is to lubricate the cable, something he advises against because it won’t solve the problem at hand. The long-term solution is to replace the cable.
Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter at The Pointer who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.