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Automania/Repair & Maintenance
AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 12 YEAR 2001
by Bob Hagin
Q. I have a '95 Mitsubishi Eclipse and at 101,000 miles I had to replace the transmission. Now i worry that the engine may go too. I don't know if I should sell it at a loss or hope it will last four years until it's paid off. It has 105,000 on it right now. I love the body style and hate to get rid of it if it is going to last. What test can be done to assure that it will stay in good condition. If I did end up replacing the engine, what would it cost?
A. You don't say if your Eclipse has a naturally aspirated engine or if it's turbocharged, or if it has a stick-shift or an automatic. You also don't say if you've had the car maintained on a regular basis, how you drive the car (mostly around town or lots of highway travel) or any of the other factors that have an effect on a vehicle's longevity. Turbos don't last as long. Since your Eclipse is a sports model, I assume that you bought it as much with your heart as your head and drive it in a "spirited" manner. As a rule of thumb, the harder you drive a vehicle, the more often it should be serviced. The Eclipse from '93 to '96 doesn't have a great reliability record so you should be religious in your maintenance. Things like the camshaft timing belt and other disaster-prone items should be changed ahead of schedule. The only "test" that can be done to evaluate future problems is the attention paid to your car by a conscientious service mechanic. The only way to find the potential cost of a replacement engine in the event of a mechanical catastrophe is to ask the shop mechanics at the shop where your car is serviced.
Q. I have a 1985 Lincoln Town Car which I bought new in the fall of 1984. It now has 135,000 miles on it and it still runs very well. When I check the engine oil, there is a lot of foam on the dipstick. At times there is so much foam that I have trouble seeing the level of the oil. What is causing this and does it present any problem that needs correcting?
A. If you find anything but oil on your dipstick, it's bad news. Modern motor oils all have an anti-foaming agent added to prevent the oil from frothing up due to the whipping action of the crankshaft and connecting rods in the crankcase. The only thing that can get into the oiling system and into the oil sump that can make to oil on the dipstick look "funny" is the coolant in the cooling system. It's usually made up of 50-percent antifreeze and 50-percent water and when it gets pushed into the lubricating system, a lot of it gets pulled into the intake manifold as a vapor through the positive crankcase ventilation system and gets burned in the combustion chambers. What remains can "emulsify" with the oil by being pressed into it in the oil pump. When this happens, the lubricated parts of your engine are being partially lubricated by antifreeze and/or water. Have your cooling system pressure tested for a slow internal leak when it's hot. Then flush and change your coolant as well as have the motor oil and filter changed. If you have a coolant leak into the engine, have it repaired or it might cost you and engine.
Q. Is there an organization that is dedicated to the history of the automobile? I'm not interested in cars per se as a hobby but I enjoy reading about them in magazines like Special Interest Autos. I'd like to be in an organization that does in-depth studies on the subject.
A. The only organization I know that's dedicated to the subject is the Society of Automotive Historians at 307 Kingston Dr. Douglassville, PA 19518. Its website is www.autohistory.org. It's stuffy but informative.
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