AUTO GURU ANSWERS VIEWERS QUESTIONS

Bb Swami Bob Hagin

Q.   My daughter lives in Florida and recently bought a new Chevrolet
2002 Trailblazer with two-wheel drive. She is now planning on going to 
North Carolina to go skiing. The hotel's owner told her that she needs 
to have chains to get to their lodging. However, here comes the 
problem. In checking with the Chevrolet dealers in Florida and 
Washington as well as on the internet, we found that the Chevrolet 
Trailblazer cannot be fitted with chains.           P.S. Shoreline, WA
                            
A.   Don't always put your faith only in the vehicle maker. I called my
local aftermarket parts house and came up with tire chains for your 
daughter's Trailblazer made by the Security Chain Company. The catalog 
lists three different tire sizes for her Trailblazer but two chain 
sizes fit them all. They're cleverly listed as Large and Small so all 
she has to do is tell the person behind the counter what size tire her 
vehicle has and they should be able to fix her up.

Q.   I want to ask you about the Sterling. I'm contemplating getting a
1988 Model 825 which has 73,000 miles on it. My biggest concern is that 
they no longer make Sterlings, so would it be possible to get parts in 
the event work was needed? And what kind of reputation did the Sterling 
have during its limited production? And why did the car go out of 
production? Was it a British Leyland or an English version of the Honda?                                                S.D. Concord, CA

A.   The Sterling was a product of a joint effort between Austin Rover
of England and Honda of Japan to make Acura Legends in England for sale 
in Europe. The car, a four-door sedan, started out with a 2.5-liter V6 
engine in 1987. It acquired a bigger 2.7-liter engine in 1990 but in 
August of 1991 Austin Rover announced that it was no longer going to be 
imported into the U.S. market. Rover supplied the bodies while Honda 
provided the running gear. Early in 1990, Sterling achieved the dubious 
distinction of offering the largest automotive rebate of all time. The 
company was discounting the remaining '89 cars a whopping $6000. When 
they first came over, they suffered electrical troubles. This was 
ironic because British cars had a reputation for poor electrical 
equipment but as I recall, the Sterling didn't use British electrical 
equipment. The Sterling never sold in very big numbers, so it's 
something of a rarity. Independent shops that specialize in Hondas 
should have little trouble servicing the car because they have 
developed a supply network over the years. But you should always keep 
in mind that you'll be buying an orphan car.

Q.   I have an '84 BMW 318i. The problem is that I don't know anything
about the controls inside or the fuse system. Can you please tell me 
where I can get an owner's manual for such an old vehicle? It runs 
great.                                                W.M. Norfolk, VA

A.   Finding odd-ball stuff sometimes requires a lot of detective work
and after checking out your request, I find that it's easier to find an 
owner's manual for a '31 Model A Ford than for your BMW. Call all the 
dismantling yards in your area, ask if they're salvaging a car like 
yours and if the owner's manual is with it and is for sale. Another 
source for old and out-of-print manuals is Schiff European Automotive 
Literature in Cranston, Rhode Island at 1-888-789-6882. They list one 
for your BMW at $50. I found them on the internet. Hemmings Motor News 
lists Faxon's at 1-800-458-2734 and TMC Publications at 1-410-367-4490. 
You might also try the BMW Car Club of America at 1-800-878-9292. 
Sometimes a single-marque enthusiast club can hook you up with members 
who have hard to get items or know where to find them.
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