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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I recently purchased a 1994 Eagle Vision. It's a truly beautiful car with very low mileage and all the bells and whistles. The only problem I have is that I didn't get an owner's manual with the car and I can't seem to find any information on it. Are they still being made? If not, when was the last one built? I know that the company was bought out by Chrysler but there my information stops. I would appreciate any help.
B.W. Springfield, OR

A. The Eagle name was inherited from the old American Motors Corporation (AMC) when Chrysler bought the company from Renault of France in 1987, essentially to get the lucrative Jeep line. Immediately previous to that, the Eagle was, in reality, a line of Americanized Renault 21 and 30 front-drive cars that had counterparts in France and Chrysler continued this Franco-American midsized sedan and station wagon for a while. In 1993 it switched the name over to a somewhat upscale and supposedly more "Euro" version of the successful "cab-forward" LS line that included the Chrysler Concorde and the Dodge Intrepid. Your Eagle Vision had marketing problems because Chrysler had to "invent" the Jeep-Eagle line for dealers who held Jeep franchises but needed a passenger car line to be able to stay in business. The Eagle as a separate marque bit the dust in 1996 and Jeep dealers had to scramble for some other brand if they needed new passenger cars to sell.

Q. I have three vehicles and I would like to get their engines cleaned but I have not been able to find any professional cleaners in my area. Everyone I've talked to said to buy some engine degreaser, use it and then wash it off with water. I would do so except that I do not believe it is wise to spray water all over the electronic components on modern engines. In the past I've used perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning non- flammable solution but that's expensive. Can you recommend a procedure to follow to clean my engines and protect against water damage?
S.T. Waterford, NY

A. The underhood electronics of modern vehicles has to be capable of withstanding underhood heat as well as the inevitable moisture that finds it way in during wet weather. The problem areas for water intrusion and corrosion are the mechanical parts. If a car or truck has a distributor with a mechanical advance system, water used to remove spent degreaser can find its way in if the unit is subjected to a direct blast at household water pressure. I mask areas that I think might be a problem with small plastic freezer bags and I dry off everything with compressed air when I'm done. Your major problem may be what happens to the degreaser and the stuff it carries off. I hate to think of it going into the ground where it can contaminate the environment. Many do-it-yourself carwashes have engine cleaning functions.

Q. I bought a '98 F-150 4.6 V8 4X2 new and it now has 38,000 miles. I've maintained it as per the maker's manual. Recently it started running erratic and misfiring. The dealer's shop said I needed new sparkplugs and wires for $480. My manual makes no mention of spark plug service until 100,000 miles. The mechanic explained that the plug is seated in a valley that can fill with water which finds its way under the wire boot. Eventually, it shorts the plug and causes it to foul and he said that it could happen again. There was no way I was going to pay for a flawed design on a truck just 2000 miles out of warranty, so it was reduced to a $50 co-pay. I have a '99 Crown Victoria with the same engine. Have you heard of this? Can I prevent it from happening again?
D.F. Chesapeake, VA

A. I'm surprised that water trapped in your engine doesn't evaporate as it gets hot. There are spray sealers available on the market but the first thing to do is figure out how and when it got there.

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