Piston Slap: Roughing It in Tucson?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap roughing it in tucson

Steven writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a 2016 Hyundai Tucson 1.6T with 90K and I have an intermittent issue of a rough idle with the A/C on — it feels very jumpy and did not have this issue before. When you turn it back off the idle becomes smooth again. I’ve cleaned the MAP and boost pressure sensors as well as removed the throttle body to clean it — it had a little gunk at the bottom of it but it looked really clean. That seemed to clear up the problem, but the issue came back again. I know it’s due for another spark plug change (as Hyundai says every 45K) so I’ll get that done soon. but I’d like to trace this down while I’m doing the work under there.

Any ideas?

PS: And no, it’s not under warranty — as countless others have claimed.

Sajeev answers:

Any engine codes? It never hurts to scan for codes just to cross it off the list.

That said, I am leaning toward either a vacuum leak (not likely, but modern turbocharged and direct injected mills got plenty of plumbing) or a refrigerant pressure problem. If you used a cheapo A/C recharge kit (again, not likely) get a pro (or professional gauges) to test the actual pressures: maybe your expansion valve (some cars use an orifice tube) is blocked and causing pressure issues that’s driving the engine computer bonkers.

But this is a direct injected motor! Fouled spark plugs and coked up EGR passages/combustion chambers (though high mileage suggests otherwise) could exacerbate the poor idle when the A/C compressor starts churning. So replace the plugs, but put a scope in there before installation: do you see significant carbon buildup?

Hopefully not, but if the plugs give you no joy, maybe it’s time to de-carbon the engine as per Hyundai specifications.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Autoguide]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
6 of 48 comments
  • Raevoxx Raevoxx on Dec 21, 2018

    It's for this reason, that I will be installing dual catch-cans in our Elantra GT Sport, this Spring.

    • MBella MBella on Dec 21, 2018

      I've been planning on doing the same with my Silverado. I want to prevent the carbon.

  • Hummer Hummer on Dec 21, 2018

    Direct injection and turbos are like diesel emission equipment, you know your getting into a headache when you buy it, but unlike diesels, DI is never really worth the hassle of dealing with.

    • See 2 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Dec 24, 2018

      @SC5door Has anyone had issues other than the Germans and Toyota? I mean real issues...not "my cousins friend's dad works at a shop and he says them directly motors is bad" issues. I have gotta think that if any of the domestic makers were having these issues I'd hear about them at least 42 times a day.

  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
  • Master Baiter "I like the Earth."The idea that modern combustion engines are incompatible with the ongoing survival of the Earth, or of humanity, is breathtakingly stupid. Climate alarmism is akin to a religion--one to which I do not subscribe.
  • Skippity Key takeaways.Toyota is run by competent businessmen.Art doesn’t like Toyota.
  • MaintenanceCosts Audi has been a full player in the German luxury club for 20 years. It started to get there with the first A4, which was a 500-foot home run, and then achieved full recognition with the spectacular D3 A8.