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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. We own a 1998 Honda Accord four-door sedan that we bought new. It now has 61,000 miles on it. We recently moved to the Seattle area from Southern California and we've discovered that when the car is exposed the heavy rain, the rear carpet is soaked pretty bad. We have to park the car outside since the garage at our new house is full of boxes and things that we brought with us and haven't been able to unpack yet. When it rains at night is when the wetness in back is worse. We dry it out as best we can but we're afraid that the floor will rust from the inside. It's also hard to drive at the time because it fogs up the windows as it dries out. The mechanics can't find any holes or cracks in the body work.
P.K. Fenton, WA

A. Sometimes these things have to be ferreted out from unusual sources. I found a factory-fix for the problem in an old trade journal and it seems that the when water flows down the outside of rear windows and through the doors, it's restricted by the lower weatherstripping. If the flow is too heavy as during a heavy rain storm, the water can build up and spill over onto the rear carpet. The cure is to pull off the lower weatherstripping and cut away a small piece of it. I haven't had to do it myself and although it doesn't sound like much of job, you might want to have a professional do it for you. Simple jobs sometimes lead to even bigger problems in the hands of an amateur.

Q. Our Saab 900 has had nothing but trouble with the front brakes for several years now. It is a 1992 model two-door sedan hatchback with a four-cylinder engine and a standard transmission. We bought it new because we felt it was a safe, uncomplicated car that would last us a long time. The problem with the brakes started a few years ago when the front brakes wore out and we had them replaced. A few thousand miles after that, the brake pedal would vibrate slightly when we'd apply light pressure to the brakes when coasting to a stop sign. We took it back to the shop and were told that there was nothing wrong with the new brakes but that the brake rotors were crooked. The shop made them straight again but after several thousand miles the same problem occurred. The mechanic said that the rotors were crooked again and that they'd have to be replaced because they would be too thin if they were straightened again. We had this done and had the brake pads replaced again. Now the brakes are vibrating again and I don't want to have them repaired again until I find out why our front brakes are having so much trouble. There has been no trouble with the rear brakes.
B.H. Berkeley, CA

A. According to Saab, the problem you're having is caused by the fact that your mechanic didn't go deep enough and check everything but it's a common mistake. Some cars have front brakes in which the hub (the part that rotates and carries the wheel) is separate from the brake rotor. If the front brakes get hot enough to warp the rotors, the hubs can warp also. When front brake rotors are machined and new pads installed, the hubs that they ride on should be checked for straightness too. If a front hub is warped or crooked, it has to be replaced since they can't be machined and made "true."

Q. I have a 1967 Oldsmobile that I've refurbished but have been unable to find trim pieces to replace the old ones. Could you give me some ideas where to look?
E.B. Mokena, Il

A. The easiest place to find new and/or old parts for your Olds (or any vintage car, for that matter) is in a current issue of Hemmings Motor News. You can find stuff for everything from Abarths to Zodiacs. The current issue has three pages of Olds specialists. Another good source is Muscle Car Review. Both are available at magazine stands.


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