Is the car shaking, is it Bina?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1988 Honda Accord LXi with about 35,000 miles on it. The problem is with the steering wheel. Every time I turn on the air conditioning, the steering wheel starts shaking. The shaking only occurs when I am stopped. What can I do about this annoying problem?

RAY: Well, Bina, the symptom may be in the steering wheel, but the problem is more likely in the engine. If the engine were shaking, you'd feel it in the wheel because that's where your hands are. If you drove with both hands on top of the hood, you'd feel it there too (although you'd have a tough time reaching the pedals!).

TOM: There are several possible explanations for the shaking engine. It could be something as simple as a bad spark plug, a bad plug wire, or too low an idle speed. Or it could just need a tune up.

RAY: Any of these things would make the engine shaky at idle. And using the air conditioner would always make the shaking worse, since the air conditioner imposes a heavy load on the engine.

TOM: Another possibility is that the "idle speed control" isn't working properly. The car's computer is supposed to make the engine idle faster automatically whenever you use the air conditioner, headlights, power steering, etc. That compensates for the power drain imposed by these accessories and keeps the car from shaking or even stalling.

RAY: If none of the things we suggest stops the shaking, Bina, you can always try cutting down on your coffee consumption. Whenever I drink my wife's famous Mississippi River Bottom Espresso, my hands shake on the steering wheel too!

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