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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. We bought a second-hand 1994 Ford Taurus that has a V6 engine and an automatic transmission. It has around 90,000 miles on it and the former owner showed us receipts where she kept it up and had it serviced according to the factory schedules. Although she claims that she never noticed it, there's a very slight squeaking noise coming from under the hood when the engine is idling and already warmed up. I only noticed it after we bought it and had the hood up when the engine was running. We took it to the Ford dealer's shop and were told that the valve rocker arms will have to be replaced.
T.H. Norfolk, VA
A. Try a Ford product called Break-In Additive or its generic equal from an aftermarket parts store. After a couple of hundred miles, change the oil and the oil filter and hope for the best. If it doesn't work, the only cure is replacing the rocker arm and fulcrum assemblies.
Q. I have a 1994 Buick Regal four-door sedan LS model. The engine is a 3.8-liter V6. Starting in 1997, the remote door lock mechanism hasn't worked on my car. The selling dealer hasn't been able to find the receiver for the system or even if that is the culprit. I wrote to the factory for help but their response was that I should take it back to the dealer's shop. Is there a manual or schematic that I could use?
W.R. Canajoharie, NY

A. I'm sure that there are diagrams and schematics around that can help your Buick but on an ancillary unit like the remote door locks, they may be hard to come by. If your system is original equipment, the chances are that it's the same on other cars of the same age and the same general design. Before you start taking things apart yourself, check with Oldsmobile, Chevrolet or Pontiac dealers in your area for repair help. Don't be surprised if it's an expensive operation at an authorized dealership shop. Sometimes independent shops are good bets since they can usually afford to take the time to analyze the problem before they pull things apart.

Q. Our daughter has just entered college and drives to school every day in a red 1997 Jeep Wrangler which we bought second-hand. It was her graduation gift. Several of her friends also drive to college in Jeeps. We're not wild about the thing since it has a cloth top and the doors are very tinny and are removable. It's a very crude vehicle to be driving around the streets but what we are really curious about is its name. Jeep doesn't seem to be someone's name and it certainly isn't very glamorous. Where did it come from?
S.L. Los Angeles, CA

A. Having had to drive one (not by choice) for 11 months, I speak with some authority although a reader in Seattle sent me a comment on the subject a few years ago. The ubiquitous "Jeep" of military fame was and is a four-wheel-drive four-seater that isn't a truck or a passenger car but instead was originally designated as a General Purpose (G.P. or phonetically, "Gee Pea") vehicle which was quickly shortened to "jeep." When I was a boy in the '30s, Popeye (as played by Robin Williams in the '80 movie of the same name) was a comic strip character who had as a companion, a little animal that was dog-like but stood on its hind legs. It's name was Eugene and the only thing it could say was the word "jeep," hence Eugene the Jeep. When the General Purpose (G.P.) vehicle entered full-time military service, the jeep name entered into the international automotive vernacular. It acquired the capital "J" when it became a "civilian" and was made by Willys starting in '56. The Jeep name is an icon world-wide (it's licensed to be made in several other countries from India to Argentina), and it was The Jewel in The Crown when Chrysler bought American Motors in '82.

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