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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I must soon do its first valve and rig job on our 1986 Toyota pickup. It has the 22R four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. It only has 352,609 miles on it and it still runs in daily use. I have carefully maintained it as per the factory recommendations including changing the oil once every 10,000 miles. What am I doing wrong? Why do other car makers require oil changes every 5000 or even only 3000 miles?
S.P Brooks, CA

A. I detect a note of levity in your letter but it brings up a serious question. If all owners maintained their vehicles "as per," they'd check the level of fluids in their cars and truck on a regular basis and know if their oil levels were dropping or other discrepancies that could lead to bigger problems. Oil doesn't wear out but no one I know outside the aircraft maintenance field does lab analyses to determine the level of contamination in a lubricant. Some engines do use oil by design or fault and/or wear out earlier than others. The 22R Toyota engine doesn't do either and is known for its longevity and stamina. On the other hand, the 3.0-liter V6 in the early T-100 pickups and other Toyota vehicles was a nightmare of problems and even if the owners stayed on top of them, they lost head gaskets, pitted cylinder heads, etc. The secret to keeping an engine together isn't necessarily changing the oil frequently but to make sure it's clean and topped up as well as making sure that the coolant and other related items are still doing their jobs. "Maintenance" doesn't necessarily mean "replace."

Q. I've owned a 1967 Austin Healey MkIII since 1973 with 26,000 original miles on it. It has always been babied and garaged. The engine runs smoothly and has tremendous power on command. My problem is that it burns a quart of oil per 100 miles and smokes. After spending $4800 on the engine with a local mechanic and achieving no success, I shipped the car to Chicago where an Austin Healey expert did extensive engine work with documented pictures (invoices enclosed) that cost me $10,000 and my Healey still smokes and burns oil.
Charleston, SC

A. Since the Big Six in your Healey isn't very exotic, conventional tests should pinpoint the problem. A cylinder leak-down test or a dry-and-wet compression test should tell you if the rings aren't sealing. I always preferred to rebuild those engines with cast iron rings (not chrome) and power-hone the cylinders to a rough, quick-seat finish. If it's the rings not seating, you're due for another tear-down. In your invoices, I noticed extensive valve guide work but no mention of intake valve stem seals. If a car smokes on decompression, oil may be going sucked past the intake valve guides. I'd have "knurled" the guides or installed bronze sleeves along with heavy-duty seals. If it has an early- type positive crankcase vent system, make sure it's working right. There's no magic in doing an engine rebuild whether it's a 3.0-liter Austin or a stove-bolt Chevy. The principles are the same.

Q. I need our 1986 Ford Escort to drive to and from my job since there is no public transportation available from our home to my job. My son does as much of the routine services as he can like change the oil and the filter. Recently something started squealing under the hood when I stepped on the gas and he determined that it was the fan belt. He squirted some oil on it hoping it would fix it but now it just smokes and is crumbling away.
P.M Cleveland, OH

A. Never put oil on any underhood belt. It ruins them. There's products that can stop the squeal for a while but it's too late now. Buy your son a book on maintaining your own car and another on your Escort. I admire his willingness to do his best but he needs more education.


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