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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. We have a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis, 5.0L engine, ADO transmission. It has 110,000 miles. Recently when my wife and I drove our car on a trip the car simply shut off after driving 50 miles. It didn't start up again until 45 minutes later. Five miles further we stopped for lunch and it wouldn't start again. This pattern repeated itself all day and finally we made it home. My wife drives the car around town and five miles to work but when she stops to shop or for an appointment, she has to wait 15 to 45 minutes before it will start again. Could it be a faulty sensor that stops the flow of gas to the carburetor? I ruled out ethanol as a factor as it was a cool day. I was told the gas lines might be too close to the engine or the alternator could be the problem.
B.K. Apple Valley, CA

A. I don't think the problem is fuel-related since it went many years without manifesting itself. Ford products of that era use a 2"X 3" sealed ignition module that is heat-sensitive and fails randomly. There's no easy way I know of for a mechanic to test it except to start the engine, apply heat to it from a hair dryer or heat gun and hope it fails in the shop. In the trade, there's a test for a suspected faulty part called "Replace with a known good unit" and in the school shop where I taught we kept a couple of good ones we scrounged from wrecking yards. There were several different models so if you go parts-hunting yourself, take the original to make sure the connector jack is right.

Q. I bought a '98 Ford Ranger pickup truck in March and I drive it every day from my home to the shipyard where I work. From the first day, I've checked the oil level and added a little each week. When I had 3000 miles on it, I found that I'd added a quart. I wasn't worried because I thought it was part of the break-in period and once I changed to 5W30 everything would level out. I always change the filter when I change the oil. I continued to check the oil level and found that in 1500 miles, it used a half-quart. I went to my selling dealer and complained about having to add oil between changes. They checked over the engine and found that everything was tight. The service manager said that it was normal for a '98-type engine to burn oil and that the engine held 4.5 quarts and that it would safely run on three. He told me to bring the truck into his shop for the next oil change and they would add oil if it was low between changes. He said that Ford would do something about it if it burned a quart every 1000 miles on three different occasions. I told him that I got rid of my '86 Ford because I got tired of adding oil between changes. Is all this normal for a '98 2.5 liter Ford engine?
P.P. Shawboro, N.C.

A. In my files I have a memo from Ford that says cars and trucks in normal service should get at least 900 miles per quart after 7500 miles of service. It also says that if the vehicle is exposed to severe duty, oil mileage may be lower. Follow the instructions that your shop has laid out and see what happens but according to your letter, your truck is already getting more than times the oil mileage that Ford considers a reasonable number.

Q. Not long ago you answered a letter regarding the restoration of an old Chevrolet Nova and listed a couple of companies that sold specific books on these cars. I'm mildly interested in getting into the hobby. Can you tell me where to start?
P.H. Seattle, WA

A. There isn't enough space here but Hemmings Motor News puts out a promotional "quicky" booklet on the subject. Write to Hemmings care of Terry Ehrich at Box 100, Bennington, VT 05201 for a copy. It's supposed to cost three bucks but I got one free. The pictures are neat and it won't tell you more than you need to know to start.

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