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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 5 YEAR 2000

by Bob Hagin

Q. My vehicle is a 1984 Chevy Celebrity with a V6 engine, automatic transmission and 184,000 miles. The carburetor choke sometimes stays closed and the car won't start until I put a screwdriver or something in it to hold it open. Sometimes once is enough but sometimes it will stall after starting and it has to be done again. After the engine is warmed up, it's OK most of the time. I drove cross-country so there shouldn't be any carbon, the idle is OK and it has new plugs. I cut the rivets on the choke spring and turned it some in the right direction to soften its tension and it helped some. These computer-controlled carburetors are so high-priced that I'd hate to buy one. My grandson is using the car to go to college. I have overhauled everything on the older cars and trucks but I don't know about the computer stuff.
R.P. Lincoln, CA

A. They say that when all else fails, read the instruction book so I'm sure you could figure out computer systems. I don't think your problem is related to the computer control system, however. Clean up the area around the choke-plate shaft and bi-metal spring housing with a pressurized can of parts cleaner/gum cutter. Also make sure that the choke plate hasn't been dragging on the sides of the carburetor and "etched" a slight notch in it for the choke plate to hang up on when it's cold. On a couple of occasions, I've come across carburetor choke cross-shafts that have become slightly bent due to several violent backfires through the air horn. I don't have to warn you about messing with the carburetor with the air cleaner off since I'm sure that you know that the other name for the air cleaner is "flame arrestor." I lost a couple of eyebrows that way when I was young and felt bulletproof.

Q. In April of 1989, I purchased a used 1988 Mercury Cougar. On each side-bar of the roof there is a medallion that reads "E & G Designer Series 2456." Is there any way you can tell me how many of these "designer series" Cougars were made? Can you also furnish me with an address for the company where I can write to find out more about this vehicle? The car still runs great and it is a genuine pleasure to drive. I did write to the Mercury division at one time but I never received a reply. The car is red with a half-top and it has less than 50,000 miles on it. I drive short distances only with a rare long trip or two.
A.L. Elizabeth City, NC

A. The Lincoln-Mercury division of Ford Motor Company recently moved its entire operation, design offices and all, to Southern California from Dearborn so your query may have gotten lost in the mail. These things happen. I've passed your request on to the public information department down there and hopefully someone will get back to you. I'm also sending you copies of a couple of pages out of Hemmings Vintage Auto Almanac that lists several Mercury owner's clubs. Tracing down specific information on somewhat unusual models like yours requires some sleuthing.

Q. We have a '98 Pontiac TranSport Montana with 23,000 miles> It has automatic load leveler, ABS and traction control. Our problem is a scraping noise coming from the rear of the vehicle when the brakes are applied. It sounds exactly like a wornout brake pad rubbing on the brake drum. It does it backing up or going forward. We've had it to the dealer twice and they've checked everything and we still have the problem. We don't want to wait until the warranty expires to get this corrected.
R.M. Bolingbrook, IL

A. Make sure you have documentation (repair orders) on the problem and that the Pontiac shop can't cure it. Then ask for an inspection and analysis by a factory field rep. There's no magic to it and if the mechanic would pull off the brakes, springs and all, he'd find it.

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