Dr. Gizmo: Headlights turn on windshield washers

Dr. Gizmo, I have a weird problem with my 2008 Ford Edge I hope you can resolve. When I turn on my headlights, the windshield washers dribble and sometimes squirt without me activating the washers. On bumpy roads, the trouble seems worse. With the headlights turned off, the washers work normally.

I went to a shop. They did tests, but they did not find any problems with modules or problem codes. They suggest I go to a dealership.

Have you ever heard of anything like this? – D.K., email

Over my many years in this business, I have experienced all kinds of unusual issues. For instance, one reader turned on the radio and the sunroof opened.

Your car has an interesting issue. Apparently, it likes a clean windshield, especially when the headlights are needed for optimal vision at night. The trouble likely is caused by the headlights and windshield wiper system sharing conductors somewhere in the circuit. More than likely, the trouble is a loose or corroded common ground wire connection. Ask your favorite technician to consider this suggestion the next time your vehicle makes its way into a service bay.

Two years ago I bought a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu LT with a 2.4-liter engine. It had been operating fine until the ABS light turned on and now I have learned the car is a salvage vehicle. This is putting a stop to repairs.

I went to two shops for this problem. The first shop replaced the brake module. This did not fix the trouble, so I went to another independent shop because the first shop had limited programming abilities.

The second shop technician attempted to program the newly installed module, but the equipment would not do the programming. He called a technical help line, but was told they could not offer help because the car is branded as a salvage vehicle. I was shocked to learn this. At the time I bought the vehicle, I was not aware it was a salvage car. Now my technician says he can’t program the module. He doesn’t know what to do next. Can you help? – R.N., email

Yes indeed the salvage issue put the brakes on the repair. I’m sorry to hear about this as it will cause future problems down the road.

At this point, perhaps your technician should check over the first shop’s work. It is possible the cause of the trouble is not caused by a fault in the old module but by another issue in the system. If so, once a proper repair is completed, he can reinstall the old module and programming should not be necessary.

I have a 2005 Nissan Altima S and the check engine light turned on. I went to my auto parts supply store where it was tested. Code P0725 was found. I bought the sensor and installed it. I went back to the store to clear the codes. The light remained off for two days but turned back on.

I went back to the store. They tested for codes and found the same code. They gave me another sensor. I installed it, but the light came back. What am I missing? – H.L.M., email

First, I need to identify the sensor for our readers. The code indicates an issue with an engine speed sensor. The signal is monitored by a transmission control module.

Next, I have to congratulate you for your efforts. The next step might require a trip to a repair shop. The cause of the trouble is not likely due to a failed sensor, although it is possible installation of a factory original equipment part might do the trick. Before you run to a dealership for this part, it’s highly likely the trouble is caused by an issue in the circuit. A problem such as a loose pin in a plug or perhaps a shorted or chaffed wire might be the cause. Check the conductors for these issues. If this is beyond your mechanical prowess, roll your wheels to your favorite repair shop.

Dr. Gizmo, I have a 2015 Ford Escape SE with a 1.6-liter engine that hesitates and surges when accelerating and the check engine light is on. I went to an auto supply store where they checked for codes. They found code P0236.

My car has 91,000 miles. Is this a major repair? – D.I., email

Wow! With 91,000 miles on the odometer, you spend a lot of time behind the windshield.

This issue is not a major repair. It involves repairing a connection related to the turbo-charger circuit. Apparently, a factory splice connection within a harness might develop a poor connection. The fix is to locate the wiring harness that contains the connection, open the harness and locate the spliced wire. The next step is to replace the connector. Once this is completed, the issue should be resolved.

Once in a while, my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with a 3.6-liter engine and 55,000 miles will not start. When I turn the key to start, the engine turns but won’t start. I left the car with my local shop. They had it for five days. It never acted up until the fifth day. They found a code for no communication with the security system, but they could not find the cause of the trouble.

I fear someday I will be stranded. Do you know what‘s wrong? – H.L.N., email

This is an issue that has hit many Jeeps. I know this might sound strange, but your shop might consider checking the fuel pump relay. The antitheft system impairs the fuel pump to help prevent vehicle theft. If, indeed, a technician finds a faulty relay, replacing it should fix this condition.

I have a 2000 Honda Accord EX with a four-cylinder engine. It has 24,000 miles. I bought it a month ago. It’s in great condition.

The trouble is there is a resonate vibration that comes and goes when going more than 60 mph.

A local shop drove it and experienced the trouble. They checked the alignment, tire balance, axles, wheel bearings, motor mounts and engine. They say the tires are like new and everything else checks out fine.

The tires are the original factory tires. Although they are in great condition, is it possible they are the cause of the vibration and sound? – M.L., email

It is possible. It’s appears this vehicle was not in service very often. Tires develop flat spots over time. Also, these tires are old. Tires should be replaced about every 10 years even if they have plenty of tread remaining and have no visible signs of road or environmental damage.

It’s highly likely new tires will cure this issue. Ask your favorite technician to consider this suggestion the next time you grace his shop.

• Phil Arendt is a columnist, consultant and A.S.E.-certified master technician. Readers may send questions to Dr. Gizmo at P.O. Box 548, Cary, IL 60013 or Information is available on his website,

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