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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 44

by Bob Hagin

Q. I am told that there is a radiator cap either on the market or soon will be, that has a wire attached that reaches into the radiator water and prevents ionization or chemical reaction, in order to prevent deterioration of the radiator. I have a 20-year old Lincoln Continental that is in good shape. The radiator holds pressure with no problem and, of course, it has no leaks - so far. And yes, I do use antifreeze. Could you suggest how or where I could purchase one of these caps and if you do or do not think it may be a worthwhile?
O.A. El Sobrante, CA

A. The device you're referring to is on the market and works great. In essence, it's a small magnesium sacrificial anode attached to a radiator cap by a short chain. When hot water is in contact with dissimilar metals in the cooling system (such as the solder in your radiator), they set up a low-voltage "battery" action that reacts on the soft metals and eats away at them. When the sacrificial magnesium anode is introduced into the hot coolant, it gets eaten up instead of the parts that would normally be affected. These caps are particularly useful on engines that have aluminum heads and/or blocks, especially now that such engines with up to 200,000 miles are common. I've dismantled many aluminum cylinder heads that would otherwise be usable as-is but their water jackets had been eaten away where they contact the iron block. I've also seen iron parts in the system eaten away by this galvanic action. You can get the name of a local dealer by calling 1-925-689-6214.

Q. I bought a new Toyota Avalon in September of 1996. About a year later I noticed a hair-line crack in the windshield. About a week later the crack had extended and I felt it had to be replaced. As I had comprehensive insurance, I had it replaced for the deductible. I went to a glass shop referred to me by my insurance company. The car is now less than three years old with 30,000 miles on it and I notice that another hairline crack is appearing in the corner of the windshield. I was just wondering if this is a common occurrence in Avalons. I have dropped my comprehensive insurance which was probably stupid, and will have to bear the entire cost.
P.E. Eugene, OR

A. I haven't had any queries to this column on cracking windshields on Avalons of any year nor am I aware of any factory recall programs on your problem. Toyota is usually pretty good about rectifying common problems on its products. If the new crack is in the same location as the first one, contact the glass shop that replaced the original and ask if they can think of a reason it originally happened. Since you Avalon was relatively new when it first happened, it may have been replaced with factory glass rather than an aftermarket piece and they may have been flawed when they were made. In my opinion, comprehensive insurance is a waste of money - until your windshield gets broken.

Q. I bought a '99 Nissan Sentra GXE from a local dealer in January. When I bought it, I thought all the items that are listed on the window sticker are what are supposed to come with the car. The Limited Edition Package is on the window sticker and everything was there except the cassette player. The dealership was sold but is still in business. No one there will answer my inquiry and neither will Nissan. I talked to the auto dealer's board and our local BBB but neither helped.
J.B. Chesapeake VA

A. I have a copy of your window sticker and your problem may be one of semantics. Under Comfort & Convenience items is an AM/FM Cassette Stereo w/4 Speakers - standard stuff. In the Limited Edition Package list is an AM/FM/CD Stereo but no cassette player. I think the Limited Edition Package eliminates the cassette player. The Nissan factory folks are looking into it for me but I think you literally got what you paid for.

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