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Automania/Repair & Maintenance
Auto Questions And Answers For Week 38 Year 2001
by Bob Hagin
Q. My problem is with the black plastic hub cap nuts that affix the caps to the factory chromed steel wheels on my 1999 GMC Sierra half-ton pickup. These plastic nuts screw over the steel lug nuts and are continually working loose. I had the dealer where I purchased the pickup torque them several times. In fact, they replaced all four caps with new ones at one time. The last time, they replaced all the plastic nuts. You can only tighten them over finger tight or they will slip around and never tighten. I check them frequently and will find two or three of them completely loose. I'm very concerned that one cap will fly off on the highway and into someone's windshield. The pickup has less than 7000 miles on it and the dealers have done everything they know how to fix it but the nuts keep working loose. Have you heard of this problem and do you have any suggestions? The nuts can not be cemented on as they have to be removed for tire rotation, etc.
A. I haven't heard of the loose nuts problem but I'm sure it's happened before. It's another case of styling taking precedence over good engineering. There's lots of different types of automotive "cement," and while some of them set up very hard, others don't require a lot of force to break loose. NASCAR race teams use one to temporally "glue" lug nuts onto fresh tires and wheels when they make those 15-second tire changes. The Loc Tite brand is what most of us use and it comes in several degrees of hardness. Check them out in your local auto parts store, pick the one that seems like it would work in your situation and try it on one of the loose nuts.
Q. I have been looking for a right-front turn signal, lens and the bracket that holds it for a 1978 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. I can't find one in any junk yard around here. I just read your column in the local paper and wonder if you can tell me or give me any information on where I might find one.
A. Please don't call them "junk" yards. It's a multi-billion dollar industry so "recycle," "salvage" or "dismantle" yard is more apropos. Hemmings Motor News is a good source of information regarding businesses that sell new and used parts for veteran cars, but its readership is mainly enthusiasts. You can order a copy by calling 1-800-227-4373. The internet is also a good resource for parts for old cars, but you have to be patient. Sorting out the sites is tedious. At 23, your Oldsmobile has passed from the realm of being just an "old car" into being a road veteran that's going to require some work to keep on the road.
Q. I own a '90 Toyota Camry V6. I don't really have much problem with the car except when the temperature gets really hot here in Sacramento. The car starts fine but after driving it for a while and you park and leave it for a few minutes, the car won't start. I have to let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes to get it to start. I already changed the battery but it still does the same thing. I know of 4 other people who have the same problem. One of them drives a '98 4-Runner with the same problem. It happens most of the time during summer when the outside temperature is really hot. Is this a known issue with six cylinder Toyotas? Where can the problem be coming from?
A. My source of Toyota information says to check for a lack of spark at the plugs as soon as it quits and before it cools off. If there's no spark, it could be a bad ignition coil, ignition pickup coil or igniter. There's an outside chance it may be a bad cold-start time switch, too. None of there are parts that the average home mechanic can test for and replace. As a car ages, these are the kinds of electrical and electronic parts that fail in the heat and then "reconnect" when they cool off.
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