Throttle Module Malfunction

So late last week on my way into work, my engine light came on, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I pulled off into a side road and tried turning my car off and back on. Nope, engine light is still on. Reading the manual, it said I should drive moderately and get my car checked out as soon as possible. The car didn’t feel any different while driving, but I decided I’d have the service center take a look when I went in to get my timing belt replaced. However on Friday, the light suddenly turned off and I thought oh well, no longer need to rush.

On Monday morning, the light suddenly came back on and this time I was definitely feeling something was wrong with my car. It would rev a lot higher before switching to a higher gear. After I got into work, I started calling up AAA approved service centers that had Microsoft Prime discounts and asked them for a quote for my timing belt + water pump replacement. Most of them told me they’d call me back with a quote. Only 2 gave me a quote immediately. I decided I wanted the car looked at the same day and ended up going with Autohaus Vick, the cheaper one at $434 – 10% off.

I took my car in and told them that I’d also like them to take a look at why the engine light is on and described the issue I noticed this morning. They said they’d take a look and let me know what’s wrong.

I got a call in the afternoon and was told my engine’s throttle module had malfunction and needed to be replaced. Apparently this part is only carried by the dealer and costs $375. Ouch! Given I didn’t want to experience the weird revving issue and wanted my car fixed as soon as possible, I told them to go ahead and fix it too, but made sure that I could get my car back the same day. They told me they would be able to fix it by 4pm.

4pm comes around and I don’t receive a call. I called them up and they told me it’s taking them a bit longer than expected, and I most likely won’t get my car back until tomorrow morning. They agreed to give me a rental car for the night. Thanks to Chad for dropping me off. I ended up getting a Ford Focus at Hertz. Car was actually rather nice. Definitely had more toys in it than my Honda Civic.

I called them this morning and my car is ready. I had also previously asked them if they could take a look my suspension and what it’ll cost to fix/replace it. Apparently my left outer CV boot was leaking as well as my right rear shock. What does it mean to be leaking? Do shocks have liquid in them? Anyway, they quoted me ~$250 to replace it (which is $250 cheaper than the Honda Service Center). Probably going to let them fix it sometime later this month.

I also inquired about the throttle module and why it would malfunction. He said the throttle module is the computer that controls how fast the car goes and when to change gears and so on. That would explain why I was seeing the gear/revving issue. As to why it went bad, it’s electronics. Maybe it got too hot/cold?

So I’ve been driving my car around for a bit today and maybe the engine hasn’t gotten used to the new timing belt, or maybe it’s the new throttle module, but it feels my car is a bit less responsive. Hopefully I’ll get used to it soon enough.

Weird Car Stuttering Noise

For those who’ve ridden in my Honda Civic, you may have noticed that when I’m driving on bumping roads, my car would make a weird stuttering noise, as if something was loose. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure it out what was going on. Some have suggested maybe my shocks were damaged. Since it didn’t really affect my driving, I never did take it in to have it looked at. And since the noise came from the rear, as the driver, I never did have much of a chance to analyze where it came from while I was driving.

A few weeks ago when Liam came up to visit, Andrew was sitting in the back and obviously annoyed by the noise. Seattle streets tend to be hilly and bumpy. So he took some tissue paper and stuffed it between my rear windshield and my rear center stop light (not exactly sure what that’s called):

rear windshield + tissue paper

And magically and instantaneously, the stuttering noise was gone. The noise has plagued my car for years and Andrew resolved it immediately. Many others have sat in my rear seats and never did figure out where the noise was coming from, only to mention they thought it was abnormal. I guess what was happening was the fact that that there was space between my rear center stop light and my rear windshield and during bumpy roads, it would smack against each other.

I’m probably going to look for something more durable and less covering than tissue paper (probably cardboard), but it’s weird not hearing that stuttering noise now that I’m accustomed to it.