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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I bought a used 1997 Dodge Neon from a new car dealer although it doesn't sell new Dodges. It had 43,000 miles on it when i bought it and it now has 50,000. About a month or so after I purchased this vehicle, the paint started peeling off of the driver's side door. I didn't pay too much attention to it at first but now the small spot is getting bigger and bigger, about the size of a football now. On the other door, the paint has also started to peel off. That spot is now the size of a softball. So what can I do to get this problem rectified? Should I go to the place where I bought it or should I go to the manufacturer? A body shop person told me that the paint job is the original factory paint. Neither the Dodge people nor the dealership that sold it to me want to help me. Do I have to have it fixed out of my own pocket?
R.D. Richmond, CA

A. Like tires, original paint is a subject that no manufacturer was to talk about and dealers want to hide when irate customers show up with paint problems. The first place to look for information regarding your paint problem is the original factory which very well may be out of effect now. You probably won't find any mention of defective paint as many G.M. product owner have discovered over the years. Then check the additional warrenty you got from the selling dealer. My guess is that you find no mention of paint problems there either. Chrysler isn't interested because you bought it second-hand three years later and the seller isn't interested because they operate on the credo that you bought it as-is with all its faults. You can try to find a class-action suit on the internet but I think you'll wind up having to pay for it.

Q. I had my 1993 Toyota T100 pickup trucked serviced by an independent shop. It had 90,000 miles on it and among other things, I had the timing timing belt on the camshafts replaced. I had it done although I couldn't see any wear on the old one when it was shown to me. A week or so later I heard a rattling sound coming from under the hood and when I looked at the front of the engine while it was running, I saw that the pulley in front was wobbling. I took it back and the shop owner confessed that his mechanic had not tightened the not that holds the pulley on enough but that it could would be no trick to tighten it up. This was done but the rattle came back a few months later. The shop retightened it again, this time putting an epoxy on the threads. Now I'm afraid that it will happen again. Why does the nut come loose after it's retightened?
F.T. Eugene, OR

A. Among other things, that nut that was left loose secures the relatively heavy front pulley/vibration damper to the end of the crankshaft. The end of the crankshaft and the inside surface of the pulley are precision fits and can't have any measurable looseness. The first time the nit came loose, it let the pulley wobble and grind metal off the surface of the crankshaft and elongate the machined hole in the pulley. The only real cure is to strip the bottom end of the engine down and replace the damaged crankshaft and the pulley. Sometimes the end of the crankshaft can be metal-sprayed and reground to the original size cheaper than putting in a new crankshaft. Whoever does the job should examine everything up front to make sure nothing else is damaged. In the past, I've seen crankshaft pulleys cone off and go through the radiator.

Q. What is meant by "blueprinting" an engine? I've seen the expression used many time in hot-rod magazines.
Q.K. Portsmouth, VA

A. Blueprinting means that the mechanic makes the parts of the engine match each other perfectly. All the pistons, connecting rods, valves and spring are then exactly the same. Factory-built engines are close to the original specs but blueprinting makes them perfect.


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