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Automania/Repair and Maintenance

AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 16

by Bob Hagin

Q. Why is it that when there is a hard, prolonged rain, the carpeting under the driver's seat on my car gets soaked. I've taken it to the selling dealer's shop twice but the soaking still occurs although the area that gets wet has been reduced. The carpet used to get wet under the dashboard clear back to the rear seat carpeting. Now it only gets wet under the dashboard. My car is a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais.
J.J Norfolk, VA

A. Finding an interior leak is tough and requires getting under the dash with a flashlight to check for signs of leakage under the insulation. It's time-consuming and a shop charges just as much for chasing leaks as it does for doing jobs that require a skilled technician. There's a couple of ways that rain water can be getting into the interior of your Oldsmobile. It's possible that one or more of the drains under the hood are plugged up with debris in which case the only way to fix the problem is to do a thorough underhood examination and use compressed air to clean out the area really well. The other possibility is that some of the body panel seams aren't sealed well and that rain water is being driven through the cracks by the wheels as they're rolling along. This is equally as hard to find since the car has to be put on a lift and sprayed down while a second party if inside watching for the leak. It might pay you to have an underseal job done paying special attention to the front wheel wells and the area under the front seats. This situation is common when there's been body damage that hasn't been sealed up after the repair job.

Q. I just bought a 1993 Chevrolet Indianapolis Pace Truck that has a lot of special graphics on it. I wonder how many of these trucks did Chevrolet make in 1993? Did the company do anything special to the 350 cubic inch V8 engine to make it more powerful? How much extra did the Chevrolet dealers charge for the Pace Truck package? What is the life expectancy of the 350 Chevy V8?
F.B. Danville, CA

A. Information on your special truck is very sketchy. It appears that while the actual trucks that were used at the Indy 500 in '93 were modified somewhat, the pickups that were sold to the public were only changed cosmetically. This is often the case, the purpose being to capitalize on the exposure at the time. Take special care of the graphics on the truck because I'm told that replacements aren't available. My source of Chevrolet sales information also tells me that if they got anything extra for an Indy Pace Truck, they were doing good. The 350 V8 Chevrolet engine is an ancient design and has been in service for a couple of decades. Its longevity and reliability depends a lot on how it's taken care of. Change the oil every 3000 miles, make sure it doesn't develop coolant leaks and it should go well over 100,000 miles. If it's gotten over the 30,000 mile mark by now, it's past the critical period.

Q. Our 1992 Pontiac Sunbird makes a funny squawking sound in the rear brakes when I come to a relatively slow speed stop. It also gives a funny pulsating feel to the brake pedal as it's happening. It's been doing it for some time now and the dealer's shop says that it needs a new set of brake linings and brake drums. They say that the brakes were used too hard and that they overheated, cracked and glazed the brake drums. We don't use the car that hard and I wonder how this is possible on a car with relatively low mileage?
L.R. Seattle, WA

A. In 1994, the rear brake shoes and drums on the GM cars that share the chassis "platform" with your Achieva were changed because of this problem. In order to make your brakes "right," the shoes and drums have to be upgraded to the '94 specifications.

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