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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. We have a 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Elegante which has a problem that we have not been able to solve. Fuel is getting into the oil pan. We have been told that it's possible that as we drive around town, our car uses a normal amount of oil but the crankcase is filled up with an equal amount of condensation and fuel and thus appears to be full. Then when we run it hard on the highway, the fuel and condensation in the crankcase is boiled off and the car appears to be down two quarts of oil. We first installed a rebuilt carburetor which didn't reduce the fuel in the pan. We then had a second one installed and that didn't work either.
E.V. Kill Devil, NC

A. Two quarts of gasoline in a crankcase that holds maybe five or six quarts of oil is very dangerous. One of my students had this condition years ago and his car utilized a "restricted flow' crankcase ventilation system. Showing off in front of the school one day, his engine backfired, set off the gas/oil/air mixture in the crankcase and blew off the pan. Another less spectacular problem is that gasoline doesn't lubricate or cool moving parts very well and washes off the oil film that has to be there. Gasoline can get into your oil pan a couple of ways, through a leaking engine-mounted mechanical fuel pump, through a carburetor leak caused by high fuel pump pressure and/or an incorrect carb float level. If the gasoline is getting into the pan through a leaking carburetor, it's dripping into the cylinders and leaking down past the piston rings. Before you have the oil changed again, take a sample to an oil testing laboratory (there's usually one near an airport) to find out just how much gasoline it contains.

Q. We own a beautiful Zimmer classic automobile and we have heard that they are now making them again in Ft. Lauderdale or Pompano Beach in Florida. Can you check this out?
E.G. Bakersfield, CA

A. The Zimmer is what's referred to in the trade as an "era" car. Era cars were built up from readily available parts (VW or Sprite convertible body, Corvette suspension, Buick/Lincoln/Chevrolet engines, etc.) and made to replicate the long hood, exposed headlight, side-mount spare tire look of the classics of the '30's. All the parts were either new or completely rebuilt to be better than new. There were several brands made (Excalibur, Clenet, Tiffany) and they were all made to the same formula. They attract attention on the street like no other type of car and shouldn't be driven by those who are timid or shy. Through Hemmings Motor News I found Art Zimmer at New Times in Syracuse, NY. He's the "official" contact for the Zimmer Motor Car Company. Call him at 315-422-7011 or fax a request of information to 315-422-1721. .

Q. We have a 1993 Ford Taurus that has the 3.0 liter V6 engine and an automatic transmission. It has just 31,000 miles on the odometer .We bought it second hand from a used car dealer about six months ago and it has given good service until now. A few weeks ago it started running poorly and has a stumble in the engine when I'm accelerating hard. It seems to be getting worse and our local service station mechanic says that when he checks it out on his diagnostic machine, everything checks out OK. I'm beginning to be apprehensive about driving the car for fear that it will quit running on me altogether and I'll be stranded.
T.C. Lafayette, IN

A. If everything else checks out OK, have your mechanic check the fuel delivery system. Some Ford Taurus and Mercury Sables of that year had fuel tanks that were sloppily welded together. Sometimes tiny hunks of weld "splatter" came loose in the fuel tank and got into the fuel pump which then wore out. If this is the case, the only cure is to remove the tank, clean it careful and replace the pump.

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