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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I recently won a car in a drawing. It is a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis. The current mileage is just over 62,000 miles. It has a 5.0 liter engine with power everything; windows, brakes, seats (very plush and very comfortable) and door locks. It has air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, AM/FM cassette player and an automatic transmission. It's a four-door sedan with a half/vinyl (Landau) top. At first I was concerned about the low mileage since the odometer only has five digits but I have received the title to the car and the mileage is accurate. I was told that an older man had owned it along with several other vehicles so it was never driven a lot which is why it has such low mileage. The car is in excellent condition, inside, outside and under the hood. Is there anything I should know about this car? Is there anything that requires special attention in reference to longevity, or maintenance of major components? Would it be best to take it to a Mercury dealership to have an overall diagnosis done? That way I can show a prospective buyer an expert mechanical evaluation on it.
D.Y. Antelope Valley, CA

A. Winning a '99 Mercury would have been better but you still made a lucky draw. According to the '95 Consumer Reports used car evaluations, the '87 Grand Marquis is a fairly bullet-proof car but sometimes an old-timer drives so little and so slowly that problems won't show up until it's driven normally for a while. If you have the service records available and you want to sell it, park it, find a buyer and let the next owner (preferably someone who will appreciate its historical value) check it out with his or her own mechanic.

Q. I have a '91 Chevrolet K-1500 4X4 with a V6 and a five-speed stick shift transmission. At 69,000 miles, a loud rattle developed in the transmission, especially in first and second gear. It only makes the noise when the engine is warmed up. I took it to a transmission shop and the technician rode in the truck and declared it to be a bad bearing. They kept it for a week and replaced all the bearings and seals and did a clutch job as well for a total of $750 but the noise is still there. I don't hear very well but I can still hear the noise. I called them about it and they said to bring it back. I'm afraid to do this since it might cost me another $750 and still not get it fixed.
L.W. Eastville, VA

A. You've pretty well got to take it back now since you've already invested a lot of money in the job. Before you take it in or leave it, get it all straight with the boss and have him and the mechanic who did the job drive it for an evaluation. Tell them that you'll pay for the parts that have to be replaced this time but that you don't want to pay for the labor twice in order to get the job done right. If it's an up-and-up shop, they won't balk at making good on a comeback. And take someone along that has good hearing.

Q. We have a 1994 Mustang GT with the 5.0 liter pushrod engine and a stick-shift transmission that I bought second-hand from the original owner. I has developed a slight growl in the transmission or the clutch when I run it past 3000 RPMs. I took it to a local transmission shop and was told that the transmission would have to be overhauled. The car only has 55,000 miles on it and I put most of them on it myself so I know it hasn't been abused. Could something else be wrong?
F.Z. Seattle, WA

A. Your problem is very possibly a vibration that comes from the clutch release lever. A Ford dealer should be able to fix it for you by installing a special damper kit that goes on the lever. You'll probably have to pay for it but nothing has to be removed or dismantled to get it on. Ford has had to hang dampers on transmissions to keep them to dampen out vibrations for many years.

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