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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have an '85 Ford Tempo with an automatic transmission and nearly 100,000 miles. About six months ago I started having problems with what I thought was the transmission. It made noise when it changed gears and taking longer to change gears than usual. I took the car to be fixed at a transmission shop and when I drove home, it still made noise changing gears. When I stopped at a signal and waited for it to change, the car started to vibrate. I took it back the next day and they checked it out. They said that it wasn't caused by anything they had done. They said it was something wrong with the engine and I should take it to the garage where I have my work done. My mechanic couldn't find anything wrong with the engine. It is not as bad as it was but occasionally when I stop at a light, the car starts vibrating. I have to put it in neutral to stop it.
J.F. Carmel, CA

A. Coincidences happen but if your Ford wasn't vibrating at stop signals before you took it in for transmission work and it began vibrating when you took it out, the chances are that the problem occurred in that shop. I can't think of anything that would cause an engine to vibrate badly at idle in gear and then smooth out in neutral and at low road speeds. My guess would be a faulty torque converter (the part that takes the place of a clutch in a stick-shift car) that's trying to lock-up. Since the shop you dealt with has washed its hands of the problem, your next step would be to take it to another transmission shop and ask for a written evaluation of the problem. If that shop determines it's in the transmission, your next step would be to return to the first shop for a fix or a possible small claims court action.

Q. I have a Dolphin motorhome built on an '84 Toyota chassis with a four-cylinder 22R engine. I have a friend with a New Horizon, same chassis but his is an '83. Both are very hard to start after they sit for more than a day. A stiff snort of starter fluid into the carburetor usually gets them started right off. After a day or two, the fluid level in the sight class of the carburetor is gone. A local independent mechanic told me that the accelerator pump diaphragm is leaking. I asked him if he could fix it quick so that we could use it. He said he could but that the local dealer didn't have the part. I found one for him (it was a "secondary, auxiliary" diaphragm, Toyota part number 21667-38310) but when I got to the shop, he said that he did a vacuum check on the carburetor and that it was OK, and just changed the plugs. I have since come to think that the choke isn't working as it should when it's cold. If the fuel float chamber is leaking, where is it going?
J.T. Seattle, WA

A. Better stop using much of that starter fluid. It will get almost anything going but I've seen it take the tops off of pistons. You'd be better off using a squirt of gasoline out of a pistol-grip oil can and while you're in there, make sure the choke flap is closing all the way It may need attention. My son Matt says he sold lots of those auxiliary accelerator pump diaphragms during his years behind the parts counter. Your carburetors may be ready for total rebuilds or replacement.

Q. I own a 1966 MGA that I've had for many years. It's been stored at my brother's house but it's been under cover. My sons are growing up and they think it would be great to bring it home and begin restoring it. All the parts are there but they're pretty corroded. It's been a long time since I worked on it and I wonder if parts are still available.
T.H. Portland, OR

A. Parts are so available that you can ship your VIN plate to England and have a complete new car built around it. Magazines like BRITISH CAR list dozens of MG parts suppliers in this country but be ready for lots of rust repairs since MGs are prone to it.

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