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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

B. My cat has sprayed on the hood of my 1996 Ford Taurus which has 50,000 miles on it. The spray went into the cowl area and now when I use the air conditioner unit, the fan pulls the odor into the car. What can I do to get rid of this smell?
J.B. Suffolk, VA

A. In my career as a mechanic and used car lot owner, I've come across two vehicles that have had those kinds of pungent biological odors inside them and it both cases it was impossible to deodorize them. They wound up being scrapped but they were more catastrophic than you problem. At 50,000 miles, your car is too new to send to the scrap yard although that would be the driver's first inclination. I've had that cat problem in my home and I used a concentrated liquid that I got from a pet store. The problem here would be that after you sprayed it into the vent pickup and ran the a/c it for a while, you'd have to be careful to get deodorizer fumes out of the interior. Big used car operations have commercial-strength vacuum cleaner systems that they use on vehicles that have been used by heavy smokers so you might be able to rig up something similar on your Ford. There are auto deodorizer sprays on the market but I'm not sure that they'd be strong enough to handle your problem. The next step is to make the hood of your car unattractive to your cat so that he won't repeat his territorial marking program.

Q. Why do we have right-hand and left-hand drive vehicles? Where did this design idea first originate and why? Vehicles in several nations drive on the right side of the road while others drive on the left. Why is this.? The drivers in each case are on the inside of the road. Is the intent to give them a better perspective of danger when meeting oncoming traffic? I wonder if this plan originated with horse-drawn carriages. If the right-hand drive idea originated in Europe, why did American cars come out with left-hand drive? Conversely, if the left-hand drive idea originated in America, why did other nations go to right-hand drive? I'm not losing any sleep over this but I don't know where to go for answers.
V.Z Seattle WA

A. In the U.S. and most other countries of the world, vehicles travel on the right-side of the road and the driver sits on the left side of the front seat. In many other countries (Japan, the British isles, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, etc.) vehicles travel on the left side of the road and the driver sits on the right side of the front seat. I've read that the original idea was for mounted noblemen and knights to bear to the left side of the road while passing so that they could draw and uses their swords and lances without having the horse's neck get in the way. In horse-and- buggy days, I don't think it mattered much which side of the road the apparatus was driven on since horses have more sense than to run into each other. Originally, most American cars had the steering wheel on the right side but the change-over to the left was pretty much complete by 1914. The subject is covered extensively in Peter Kincaid's 240-page "The Rule of the Road" (published by Greenwood Press of New York) but it may provide more than you want to know about the subject. The Society of Automotive Historians (open membership - Box 432, Bedford MA, 01730) is my major source of historical auto stuff.

Q. We have a 1994 Camaro that we recently bought. The a/c is noisy and doesn't work right. Is there an inexpensive way to fix it at home?
P.K. Pleasant Hill, CA

A. Your problem is most likely caused by the premature failure of the shaft seals on your a/c compressor which lets PAG oil leak onto its clutch. It's possible that a new set of seals will cure it after the clutch surfaces are cleaned up but if its face is badly burned, you'll need a new compressor. Unfortunately the job can't be done at home.

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