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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I used to prime my oil pump and filter after changing the oil and filter by cranking over the engine with the coil-to-distributor wire removed until the oil pressure light would flicker or go out. This was with carbureted engines with the choke not engaged. Can this same technique be used without really flooding the engine and causing more harm than good with a fuel injected engine? I now own a '99 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with the 2.4 liter engine.
E.O. Sacramento, CA

A. There used to be an aftermarket device available that would automatically "prime" an engine's lubrication system when the ignition key was turned on but I only heard of one being sold. I used to prime systems on British cars the way you describe but only because the rod bearings on many of them would "rattle" when I'd start them up. The lubrication system on your Toyota retains enough oil on the pistons, bearings, camshaft and valve gear to actually run quite a while with no oil at all without doing damage - but don't try it. Toyota truck engines serviced without oil priming easily go two to three thousand miles with no discernible wear on the lubricated parts - especially so if the schedule of oil and filter changing takes place around 3000 miles. I'd be more worried more about the effect on the computer-controlled ignition system than the potential wear on the moving parts.

Q. In July of 1995 we bought a new Buick Century from a local dealer. After about two years, one of the horns quit and was replaced under warranty. About two weeks after the warranty ran out, another one quit and I paid to have it replaced. Then this spring I had the same trouble and the Buick dealer said I'd have to pay for it. I said no way, since I still had one horn. But a week later the last horn stopped operating nd the car had no horns at all. I called Buick Public Relations on their 800 number Hot Line to no avail. In less than four years and in less than 14,000 miles, my car has gone through four horns. The dealer's shop mechanics said that they checked all the circuits and that they were alright. I paid the $213 to replace both horns. I've driven for over 60 years and I've never had a horn quit working on any of my cars.
J.B. Renton, WA

A. I've owned lots of cars that had no horns, but usually I got them second-hand and with lots of miles on the odometer. I haven't had complaints of G.M. horns failing nor have I seen shop bulletins on the subject. I'm not surprised that the Buick hot line was of no help. It may be that the original horns were of a poor design and the new horns will last. If it happens again, take it to an independent shop, as the dealer's guys haven't been able to analyze if it was a failure of the horns themselves or the horn circuit was overloading them. I hate to bring up the question of whether you're over-using them since your driving and horn-using pattern is pretty well set after 60 years.

Q. We have a 1994 Plymouth Voyager SE with a V6 engine and an automatic transmission. It now has 65,000 miles on it and ever since we've had it, we have heard a slight scraping or knocking noise when we're carrying a particularly heavy load or more than our usual number of passengers. It's particularly noticeable when we go around a corner. We've had it inspected at the quick-lube shop that does our routine servicing and the technician says that the front springs on both sides are scraping a little against the inside of the fender. We had the alignment and suspension examined for bent or broken parts, but everything seems OK.
T.B. Cleveland, OH

A. Chrysler's high-tech repair for this problem is to pull the suspension struts away from the fender wells and beat the sheet metal back from the strut towers with a big hammer. It then suggests that the "modified" areas be repainted or coated with underseal to prevent rust.

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