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posted: 12/17/2011 5:00 AM

Doug McAllister/Under the Hood:

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Q. I own a 2010 Hyundai Elantra with automatic transmission and only 3,000 miles on it. I am retired and do not do a lot of driving. The car was purchased new in August of 2010. I like the car but it seems to be developing a problem the dealer could not identify.

The problem: During moderate acceleration, at about 35 to 40 mph, I can hear and feel a "shutter" and some roughness and a very slight hesitation in the car. If I speed up to over 40 mph or down to a speed less than approximately 35 mph, the shutter, hesitation and roughness will quit. This also happens when the car is under load, such as a slight incline like on an expressway ramp.

The dealer acknowledged the problem during a test drive this past summer and now that the cold weather is here, it seems to be getting worse. Your suggestions and advice are welcome.

A. Because you don't drive the car much, I'm wondering if it just needs a good old fashioned turnpike tuneup. Sometimes if the car just does short-trip driving, it can get a little sluggish.

Also, make sure you are using a good quality fuel. I've written before about the importance of using top tier fuels. To gain a better understanding and a list of the Top Tier Fuel manufacturers, visit www.toptiergas.com.

Try these two things before going back to the dealer. If you still have the problem, try taking the car to a different Hyundai dealer for a second opinion.

Q. I have been using nitrogen in my tires on four cars and have had good success. I do not lose any air over time, the tires seem to wear better, and the ride seems a bit more comfortable. What is your opinion on nitrogen vs. regular air?

A. I don't know that I have strong feelings for or against using nitrogen.

The pluses include all those things you mentioned, and a few more. Supposedly you will get less corrosion on the sealing surface of the wheel and one of the biggest features of using nitrogen is that the pressure will not vary up and down with temperature as much as it does with air. That's why they use it in race cars. They have much better control over the air pressure in the tires.

One of the big negatives for me as a shop owner is the cost of a nitrogen generator. They're very expensive. At this point I am not convinced the benefits outweigh the expense, although my mind is not made up yet.

The other negative is you can't get it everywhere so if you need to add air, you then have to make another trip to get the air removed and the nitrogen put back in.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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