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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

Auto Questions And Answers For Week 30 Year 2001

by Bob Hagin

Q. I have a 1986 Honda Accord. It is a four-cylinder model. in excellent condition and it runs like new. Its mileage is only 73,000 miles. My mechanic tells me that it is now time to have a valve adjustment job done. The motor sounds fine to me. Should I have this done? Will it lead to complications? It is a very expensive job.
R.S. Virginia Beach VA

A. The only complications that might arise would stem from not having the valve clearances checked and adjusted if necessary. Some engines don't need valve clearance adjustments because the valves are operated by hydraulic "lifters" that are self adjusting. But in engines like your Accord, the clearance between the end of the valve stem and whatever pushes the valve open (rocker, cup, etc.) the clearance has to be within certain limits measured in thousandths of an inch. The clearance tightens up with use and if it's less than minimum, the valve run the risk of being too tight and not fully closing against its seat. The least detrimental result is that some of the combustion pressure escapes and the engine loses some power. A worst problem occurs when the burning gasses actually burn a notch in the valve and in its seat. Then the head has to come off and repaired. If the valves have too much clearance, they're noisy and it's not a major problem but you don't "hear" tight valves and when they burn, it's too late. It's a lot like changing the cam timing belt on schedule. It's big trouble if it breaks.

Q. I bought a used 1998 Toyota Corolla four-door sedan with aN automatic transmission and air conditioning in July of 1999 from an auto rental company. It now has 37,000 miles. During the summer, ,there seems to be a musty, moldy odor coming from the vent system whether the a/c was on or not. When it began again in the sporing of 2000, I called both Toyota service departments in the immediate area and they both said that the smell was common for all Toyotas. They both explained that the material in the air conditioning was prone to form mold and bacteria and the only treatment is to spray Ozium through the vent system, have it run for two hours and always use outside air. I have only used outside air since then. One of the service people even said that he had a Toyota from the '80s and that and he used Ozium every time the odor came back.That seemed to work all summer last year. The odor came back two weeks ago and they put it on the Ozium machine and they put it on the machine and also sprayed the vent system. The odor came back yesterday. Last fall I had pneumonia and was off work for three weeks. When the odor comes back, I drive with the windows open which is hard when the temperature is over 100 degrees. I find it hard to believe that Toyota is still manufacturing cars that have this problem.
B.G. Sacramento, CA

A. All Toyotas don't develop that moldy smell but many do. General Motors cars have the problem and I'm told that the reason is that the vanes in modern a/c evaporators are more closely packed and develope a medium that is conducive to mold and bacteria. Ozium is the best known strap for the problem although there are many others on the market. If you want to do it yourself (it's cheaper), check with any auto parts store and see what they offer. I'm told that the only sure semi- permanent cure it to dismantle the system and manually clean and disinfect the parts that are in the air flow.

Q. Our '98 Ford Windstar makes a squeaking sound whenever I stop or start. It seems to be coming from the interior but I can duplicate it when the van isn't moving.
D.S Tampa, FL

A. Ford says the there's too much clearance between the seat track and the bolts that hold it. Ford's Seat Track Repair Kit will fix it but the company won't do it on a warrenty, hidden or otherwise.


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