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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have been looking for a store, company or mail-order outlet that sells a wood paneling kit for the dashboard of my 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix two-door sedan. I have contacted one of the makers of these kits who advertises in the back of several of the auto enthusiast magazines but I haven' been able to find anyone who makes a wood paneling kit for my car. Do you know of anyone who could do customize this job?
G.T. Scotia, NY

A. I never cease to be amazed at the scope of products made by members of the aftermarket auto parts industry and how popular auto dress-up items are with the public. I'm told that there are three manufacturers of these types of kits in the U.S. and another is going into production in China. None of them make a kit for your '95 Grand Prix and none of them could definitely tell me why. They did volunteer the theory that either you're Pontiac wasn't popular enough to warrant setting up to make a kit for it (they're made on a lazer cutting machine that's computer operated), or there are too many compound curves involved. They make them for other Pontiacs of different years but your particular year and model isn't on the list. The only wood-grain customizers I found are craftsmen who do hand painted restoration work on vintage, custom or exotic cars and you would have to take your car to them.

Q. My 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser has a total mileage of 62,980 miles on it. My problem is that it starts normally and runs fine until it the engine gets hot, say after 30 minutes or so of highway driving. After I restart it, it runs but as soon as I take my foot off the accelerator, it stalls and dies. A mechanic rebuilt the carburetor because he said that the seals were leaking but the job didn't cure the stalling. The car has been back to the shop six times and the mechanic checked for foreign material in the fuel tank and blew out the gas lines. A person I met said he had an '84 Land Cruiser with the same engine and he had the same problem. He said that the problem was caused by a broken spring in the dash pot on the carburetor. He pointed to the dash pot on my carburetor and it appeared to have some vacuum lines running to it.
C.L. Kill Devil Hills, NC

A. The engine in you're '84 Toyota Land Cruiser is actually a vintage Chevrolet straight-six and was used in Land Cruisers for many years. They were (and still are) famous for developing vacuum leaks in areas like the interface of the intake manifold and the cylinder head and the base of the Japanese-built carburetor. If the engine runs well when its cold, it indicates that it's working best when the choke is closed which would compensate for a pretty good sized vacuum leak somewhere. The fact that the engine quits at idle when it's warmed up (choke open) but goes good at higher revs also points to a vacuum leak. It's easy enough to check out by closing the choke when it's in the hot idle mode. If it runs better, start looking for a vacuum leak. This assumes that everything else (ignition, pollution control systems, etc.) have already been checked out and are OK.

Q. My 1992 Ford Explorer has 78,000 miles and a V6 engine. Recently it started making a muted roaring sound when the engine is started. I've raised the hood when the engine is making this noise and it seems to be coming from the fan. My mechanic says the device that disengages the fan when the engine is cold is at fault and is working all the time even when the engine is not hot. He says it won't hurt anything to leave it.
M.M. Seattle, WA

A. Hopefully it won't hurt anything but I'm leery about problems involving a thermostatically controlled fan clutch. If they're overworked, they can come apart and put the fan through the radiator or even the hood. I suggest you get it repaired.

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