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I have a 2012 Kia Soul with 72,000 kilometres on the odometer, and the check-engine light is on for fuel lean at high load. I had the fuel system cleaned, a new oxygen sensor and fuel lines installed, and yet the light came back on after each repair. I finally got a new high-pressure fuel pump and paid $1,600. Again, I took it back to the mechanic who still can’t figure out why the light is on. What do I do? It’s out of warranty. – Karl

What does this code mean? As simply as I can put it, your engine light is coming on because the oxygen sensor is detecting excessive air when the vehicle is being driven harder. Fuel lean at high load means that under hard acceleration, the car is lean, i.e., it is getting air that it is not supposed to. The powertrain control module (PCM) monitors the oxygen sensor and adjusts fuel delivery to provide maximum fuel-efficiency and driveability, as well as maintaining emission control.

Common causes for this code are an air leak in the intake system, improper fuel pressure, a PCV valve that is stuck slightly open or a clogged fuel injector. A wide variety of possible trouble spots leading to a difficult diagnosis – however, the replacement of the high-pressure fuel pump feels like a guess, at best.

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Take it to another facility, perhaps a dealer, and have them start over. In my experience, the most difficult problems to diagnose are due to someone missing a simple step early on and making recommendations based on faulty findings. I believe this car has an intake air leak that has been overlooked.


I have a 1981 Camaro Z28 that has been stored in a garage for over 20 years. There was nothing wrong with it at the time I stopped using it, but now I think I would like to get it going again. The tires are flat, and I’m sure there is a lot to do to it. It is in very good condition, exterior- and interior-wise. Where should I take it? I’m just not sure of what needs to be done under the hood, etc. – Paul

During initial discussions with a customer, I approximate the cost of replacing the battery, tires, all the fluids, filters and a full tune-up. Additionally, after 20 idle years, the fuel tank will need to be drained and examined for corrosion.

Once I have approval for these initial expenses, we arrange for transportation to our facility. A comprehensive vehicle examination occurs immediately after its arrival to make sure that it is indeed an ideal candidate for the service that we have just quoted.

There is a large cost difference between a car that needs these simple repairs versus one that requires restoration. We all have a friend who has a project car that was never completed because of the necessary time and cost was underestimated. Taking these steps ahead of time can potentially prevent a financial nightmare.

It sounds like your car just needs a a simple renewal and not a restoration. Most decent repair shops should be able to easily handle this.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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