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Automania/Repair and Maintenance
AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 40
by Bob Hagin
Q. I own a 1992 Geo Metro that is capable of carrying about 660 pounds inside the car. I purchased it used in 1995 and would like to pull a travel trailer behind it but I need some information. The only book I have on it is a 1993 version of the owner's handbook. What type of travel trailer hitch would I need to tow a 12 foot light-weight travel trailer? Could a Geo Metro pull a trailer up to 15 feet long? I will have to carry an additional 350 pounds of luggage, (clothes, boots, etc.) inside the car or the trailer.
A. I called our local Draw-Tite dealer and was told that the company didn't list a permanent hitch for a Geo Metro. I then called our local Chevrolet dealer's parts department and the counterman I talked to was very apprehensive about the ability of a Metro to do any towing at all. He felt that the primary concern was that the brakes wouldn't be up to the job, especially if you were going through any mountainous terrain. I looked up your car in the press kit that the factory sent out on the Metro and it stated simply that "Trailering with Geo Metro is not recommended." The only positive response I got was from our local U-Haul franchise. I was told that U-Haul has a temporary hitch available for your car and that its absolute load limit was 1000 pounds. You don't mention the engine in your Metro but the only one listed has three cylinders, is only one liter in displacement and puts out 55 horses. As I recall, the standard gearbox on the Metro is a manual five-speed and I don't think that the clutch, the transmission and the engine are up to the job of towing anything. The Metro was designed as an around-town "scooter" and doing any towing with it would be courting disaster.
Q. While looking through a scrap yard for replacement doors for my 1971 Toyota, I came across a tiny two-door sedan that looks like it was built in the '30s. It is very small, has a cloth center in the top, the steering wheel is on the left side and the doors hinge at the rear. It is badly crumpled on the left front fender but everything seems to be there except for the hood. Is a car like this worth restoring? What would be a fair price for an unknown car like this? I'm enclosing a snapshot I took of the car and the scrap yard would like to sell it.
A. This is a tough one. I've searched "The Encyclopedia of Motorcars - 1880 to Present" without success. The car looks like it could be a mid-'30s English sedan or even an early Datsun except for the left-hand location of the steering wheel. It doesn't match any of the American Austin or Bantam photos since they all seemed to have doors that hinged at the front. It could be something continental (German, Italian, French, etc.) but it's beyond my expertise. I'll send a photocopy of the photo to readers who send me a letter marked "Mystery Car" on the outside and contains a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Maybe one of them can identify it. Then comes the mystery of how it got into that scrap yard.
Q. We have a 1988 Dodge Omni that we recently bought for our daughter to use as she goes to college. We bought it from an elderly couple who put very few miles on it but finally got too old to drive it because of its manual transmission. After we bought it, we found that the clutch was noisy but only at fairly high speeds. We asked the former owners about it but they said that they never drove it as fast as our daughter does. Is the noise something to worry about?
A. The noise is caused by a faulty clutch release lever and it's prevalent only when the clutch is depressed at engine speeds around 3000 RPM. You can have it replaced without removing the transmission.
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