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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. We own a 1995 Ford Crown Victoria. We bought it new and had it delivered with all the possible accessories. It is a beautiful car and we have enjoyed very much. It now has 62,000 miles and has given us fine service. It has one minor problem that so far no one has been able to find. When I'm stepping on the gas, I hear a slight whine coming from underneath the car. It isn't loud but I can hear it. I've told the mechanics about it when I've had it serviced but after a short drive, they say that it is caused by something in the rear end and that they have to replace a shaft underneath the car. This will cost a lot of money and I want to make sure that it's going to stop the whine. If we don't have it done, will it lead to some sort of big problem?
H.Y. Phoenix, AZ

A. Your mechanic is right about replacing the drive shaft in your Ford in order to get rid of the whine. According to Ford, the noise is coming from the rear axle (your car isn't front-wheel drive) and traveling up the shaft that delivers the power to the rear wheels. The fix is to have the shaft replaced with an updated model that has a vibration damper built into the front end of it. Depending on when your car was built, it may also need a special brace on its frame to further counter the whine. The parts and their installation aren't cheap and I don't think that it will cause any damage although you should have your mechanic check out the universal joints on the ends of your present drive shaft to see if they show any wear. You may want to check with your Ford agency to see if maybe there's a "secret" warrenty that will cover the job.

Q. I have a 1987 Toyota four cylinder pickup truck that has 214,000 miles on it. It has a standard shift transmission and it isn't a four-wheel drive. I keep it in excellent shape and have it serviced regularly. I've had it for five years and the former owner also had it service regularly. It wanders on the highway but not enough to be a problem. A friend has a truck that is like mine except that mine has a camper shell. I drove his on the freeway and it doesn't wander like mine although he hasn't had anything special done to it. What is different about his truck and how can I get mine to drive like his?
T.O. Lubbock, TX

A. When your vehicle has abnormalities such as highway wander, unusual tire squeal on turns, hands-off "pull" to the right or to the left, or abnormal tire wear, the problem can most often be traced to incorrect wheel and/or suspension alignment. Unfortunately most modern cars use MacPherson strut suspension up front (and sometimes in the rear, too) and in most cases, the only aspect of wheel alignment that's adjustable is the toe-in or out. But your pickup is fully adjustable up front and I'd bet that the alignment on your truck has too little caster angle adjusted into it. Have a wheel alignment job done on it (which includes making sure it's at the correct ride height) and your tuck will probably drive arrow-straight.

Q. My bachelor cousin died recently and left no apparent heirs other than his elderly mother. She had no other children so it was left to her to dispose of his belongings. He was a lifelong car enthusiast and subscribed to many auto magazines and saved all of them. He would also buy any old auto magazines that he came across in garage sales and flea markets. There are at several hundred of them in seven large boxes and they go back to the '40s and '50s. How can I find a buyer for them?
C.A. Benicia, CA

A. The Vintage Auto Almanac will give you the names and addresses of nearly 100 business that deal in old auto literature. You can buy a copy at large book stores or order one by calling 1-800-227-4373 extension 550. They cost about $13. It might help if you had all your cousin's magazines on a list but that's a lot of work and may not be worth it.


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