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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. Now that the price of gasoline is going through the roof, I'm inclined to pursue my long-time dream of making my own electric car built out of some kind of small sedan. I've read that all the major manufacturers are abandoning electrics except for fleets and airport rentals so doing it myself it the only thing I can do. Is there a non-commercial electric auto group?
T.H. Portland, OR

A. The address for the Electric Car Owners Society is 167 Concord St, Brooklyn Hgts, NY 11201. E-mail is given as according th the latest Vintage Auto Almanac.

Q. I own a 1984 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau that came with a 305 cubic engine. Last year I had a new 350 cubic inch engine installed at the local Chevrolet dealership who in turn rebuilt my original carburetor. Last week I failed the emission test. I took it back to the shop and he said he had it running rich. He adjusted the carburetor and I passed the second time around. I have talked to four different auto dealers and they told me that the 305 carburetor is underpowered for a 350 engine and must be re-jetted. What does this mean and what does it entail? Are these other dealers correct in assuming that a 350 carburetor should have been installed or rejetted at the time of the rebuilding of the carburetor and the 350 engine was installed?
J.N. Seattle, WA.

A. I'm surprised that the Chevy shop that installed the new 350 engine in your Caprice overhauled your original carburetor rather than install a rebuilt unit from an outside supplier. After that many years and mileage, it's tough to get all the internal passages really clean and free from varnish buildup. Rejetting a carburetor consists of replacing the jets and metering rods that control the amount of fuel that gets pulled into the carburetor where it's mixed with air and sucked into the engine. There's not much to adjust on a later model carburetor and when your rebuilder made your car run leaner (the opposite of "rich"), the idle mixture screws are the only ones he could have worked with. I think that a carburetor designed for a 350 CID replacement won't make your car run any better of give better mileage.

Q. I have a a '97 Nissan two-wheel drive pickup with a 2.4-liter engine, a five-speed transmission and 31,000 miles. I bought it new. At 6000 miles the clutch acted up and was replaced at 10,000 miles under warrenty. At 16,000 miles acted up again. Sometimes it was fine but other times it would judder harshly. A couple of times it almost stalled the engine but most of the time it was mild. The clutch felt like it had a definite "engagement" point when the pedal was released. This only seems to occur only in first and second gears when the vehicle is cold. I took it in many times but the shop couldn't duplicate the symptom but it finally did it for them at 29,000 miles. Again it was replaced under warrenty and the factory rep said the disk was worn unevenly. They replaced the clutch disk, pressure plate and throw-out bearing. The clutch was fine but now at 31,000 miles, it's beginning to grab again.
C.A. Citrus Heights, CA

A. Many years ago that I worked in a Datsun (Nissan) shop and the clutches on pickups had problems even them. Some of the time-consuming things that should be checked are crankshaft/flywheel run-out (done with the gearbox and sparkplugs out, a dial indicator gauge rubbing against the flywheel and the engine rotated slowly by hand), the transmission input shaft checked for disk hangup (I've had to "lap" them in) and concentricity of the back of the block and the bellhousing. All of these things take time and I'm not sure that Nissan will go for it. I assume motor and transmission mounts have already been checked.


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