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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I bought a '96 Toyota T100 SR5 4X4 new and at about 550 miles I found a bad vibration in the truck at 50 to 55 MPH. At that time I called the dealer and he said to bring it in. They rotated the tires and balanced them but it didn't work. Toyota said to bring it to the tire dealer to see if the tires were good and they were. Toyota has spent a few bucks trying to fix the truck with new tires and rims, new left rear spring and checked the drive shaft and axles for balance. I took it to a specialist who said there was a problem but he couldn't find it. I told Toyota I wasn't satisfied and they said they would fix it. At 71,000 miles and a lot of vibration, the truck still isn't fixed. I'm trying the Lemon Law and have also hired a lawyer when it had 36,000 miles. I'm still waiting for an answer from Toyota to make up its mind. I need to know if other Toyota T100's have this problem.
W.H. Moyock, NC

A.My two sources of Toyota lore are guys who have worked on them at the dealer level for a long time and they confirm that the early T100 4X4 with a five-speed has a vibration problem and it continues to even the newest models. One says his company has had luck with replacing the Goodyear tires with similarly sized Firestones or Michelins. I've heard of balance weights being attached to the rear leaf springs and these are used to dampen out intrinsic vibrations that are otherwise incurable. Ford used to hang balance weights off the tail housing their transmissions with the company's four and six cylinder engines. If they were left off, the vibration would put your differential to sleep at 50 MPH. I'm sure the factory technicians have tried this, so your best bet might be to change to a different and possibly smaller set of tires.

Q. I've wanted a sports car since I was a boy and when Mazda introduced the new Miata in October, I knew my wait was over. I love it! I keep it in a garage and only get to drive it on weekends. With summer upon us, I'm concerned about the tan top. I've talked to my dealer as well as detail shops and can't get anyone to commit to a product. I thought that Mazda itself would have endorsed a product and I'm aware that the top will become a bit darker. Off the record, if you were to treat the top of your own new Miata, what would you use? And while we're at it, how about the leather interior, tires, alloy wheels and dashboard? Do you have a favorite wash/wax product? .
J.M. Virginia Beach, VA

A. On or off the record, I never endorse any kind of consumer product for obvious reasons. All the car care products on the market claim that they're the best but personally, I don't think there's a lot of difference between them. If you want information on what works good on the Mazda Miata, I can put you on to the national club and from there, you can network with lots of other owners. Jay Lamm wrote the book on the subject (literally) and he gave this name and number to me. Miata Club of America and the phone number is 770-205-8832. A club of kindred auto spirits is handy whether you're driving a Miata or a Maserati.

Q. We have a 1993 Honda Accord and it has gradually begun to be very sluggish during acceleration. It has 61,000 miles on it and when it started getting sluggish, it also developed a "buzzing" sound under the hood. Our mechanic says that the buzzing sound is coming from the distributor and since the ignition system on the car is computer- controlled, we have to install an expensive new distributor.
K.B. Monterey, CA

A. If the buzz is coming from the distributor, chances are its upper bearing is worn out and your mechanic can verify this on an oscilloscope. The quickest and most cost-effective fix is to replace it with a rebuilt unit but check with your local Honda dealer first. The factory is picking up the tab on many of them up to 75,000 miles.

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