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Automania/Repair & Maintenance
AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 45
by Bob Hagin
Q. Is it necessary to change the brake fluid every 30,000 miles for both the master cylinder and the anti-skid brake system as recommended by the manufacturer? I have a 1993 Honda Accord ES with automatic transmission and it now has 30,000 miles on it.
A. When I was a mechanic and doing maintenance services on cars and trucks as a regular thing, I got in the habit of pressure bleeding a bit of brake fluid from each wheel cylinder every couple of years for my regular customers. It got rid of the contaminants (dust, seal residue, etc.) that collected at the wheel cylinders that could cause scoring of the cylinder bores and nick the hydraulic cups and seals. I would also pull out the fluid from the master cylinder and replace it with fresh stuff. I felt this was especially important with drum brakes. Many brake master cylinder are sealed from atmospheric contamination by an expanding diaphragm so water contamination can't get in but not all so it's a good idea to service the brake hydraulic system according to the factory recommendations. Unfortunately a total flushing of a brake system (especially where an anti-skid brake system is involved) is pretty costly. Honda has recommended a purge every 45,000 miles for the past couple of years and our local Nissan dealer does it at 60,000. In checking back through old maintenance schedules, I found that in '74, Volkswagen recommended changing brake fluid every two years. I'm still not convinced that flushing out all the old fluid is an absolute necessity as long as the brake fluid that's added is up to the specifications of the fluid that's pulled out.
Q. Our 1989 Acura Integra now has 102,000 miles on it. It has an automatic transmission and a for cylinder, 1.6 liter engine. It has run very well for us (we bought it new) and we have kept it up very well. Lately it has had a slight problem in restarting once it has been left sitting for as short a time as a half an hour. It has progressively gotten worse (we especially notice it because it has always started so well) and so we took it into our shop (not an Acura or Honda dealer). The mechanic said that it needs a new fuel pump. I've always been under the impression that if a fuel pump goes bad, the car just stops running.
A. That is true in most cases but in the case of a fuel-injected vehicle, it's possible that the pump is simply leaking a bit of pressure when your engine is shut down. It has to deliver close to 40 pounds of pressure (compared to the three to five pounds needed for a carburated engine) and it is supposed to hold that pressure for around 10 minutes. If it ha a slight internal leak, the engine will run fine but restarting is hard once the fuel pressure has bled off. Your mechanic is probably right although your problem could also be a faulty fuel pressure regulator. The tests for both problems is relatively simple and your mechanic should be able to pinpoint the problem pretty easily.
Q. I have a '59 MGA that I've had for many years. I'm retired now and only drive it on the weekends and in good weather. I've been having a lot of trouble with the fuel pump on it and occasionally have to tap the area behind the passenger's seat with a hammer to get it clicking. I've tried to find one through a local parts house but they don't even have it listed in their catalogs. There are no MG dealers left in the US and I don't know who to write to in England to send me one. Are there still MG dealers in England? I want to keep it original.
A. There are MG dealers there but you don't have to go that far. The pages of British Car magazine lists a half-dozen places that can supply you with new or rebuilt SU pumps. Write for a trial copy of British Car to Box 1683, Los Gatos, CA 94023. You might even want to subscribe.
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