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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

Auto Questions And Answers For Week 33 Year 2001

by Bob Hagin

Q. I have a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis with 48,000 miles on it. Lately it has developed a shudder in the transmission at about 40 miles per hour. The vibration stops when you step on the gas or let up on it. The dealer wants to change the fluid in the automatic transmission and in the torque converter for $290. I already had to pay them $90 for a checkup when they did a road test. I would like to have a telephone number for Mercury.
G.B. Virginia Beach, VA

A. Changing the automatic transmission fluid and its filter in your Grand Marquis isn't going to grow metal back onto worn parts or tighten nuts or bolts that have come loose. Take your car to another Ford product dealer's shop or to a reliable independent automatic transmission shop. Have the mechanics there check externally for things like a worn drive shaft yoke bushing at the rear of the transmission or maybe even worn drive shaft universal joints. If they drain the automatic transmission fluid, they can check it to see if it's burnt or if it contains ferrous (iron) and/or non-ferrous (brass, aluminum) shavings or particles. These would indicate something is worn and coming apart. Usually problems in the transmission require its removal for a repair, overhaul or replacement. To reach the Ford/Mercury office, call the complaint number in your owners handbook. When you reach someone there, they will refer you back to the dealer. If you have an extended warranty, check it very carefully, especially the small print.

Q. I have a 1988 Chevrolet Caprice with a 305 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor. When I start the engine from cold, it revs to about 900 RPM and stays there. It takes about two to three minutes After I kick the gas peddle before it starts to slow down. After another two or three minutes it's OK again. After the car is warmed up, it just runs as great as ever. The choke outfit has brass rivets so I can't adjust the choke. My pal says that the bushings are worn out on the connector on the carburetor.
D.M. Paradise, CA

A. Those General Motors four-barrel carburetors have some sort of heating device that warms a bi-metal spring that unwinds as it gets hot and opens the choke plate. The heat source is sometimes an electrical heating element or an evacuated tube that draws heated air into the spring chamber. Sometimes it uses both. The tube is down in a heated well in the intake manifold that is heated by exhaust gas running across the bottom of it. The exhaust gas is routed through passage in the manifold and it's controlled by a heat riser at the base of one of the exhaust manifolds. Check to see if the heat riser is working and not stuck open. Hopefully, the cross-over passage isn't carboned-up solid in which case you'd have to remove the intake manifold and boil, chip or burn out the carbon. The reason it takes so long to get the choke to work is that the entire engine has to get hot in order for it work.

Q. I am the original owner of a 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis with 86,000 miles. Since new, the car develops a gas smell when accelerating too quick. It doesn't do it all the time, so it's hard to take to a repair shop to find the problem. I took it back many times while it was still under warranty and many times to other repair shops since. No one can find and identify the problem.
J.B. Waldorf, MD

A. My guess is that the problem is in the fuel evaporation recovery purge system. The system collects excess fuel fumes from the fuel delivery system and dumps them if the system becomes overloaded. This should be easy to check out by looking for fuel stains around the purge tank. Report the problem to the National Highway Traffic Administration. Those fumes are dangerous when they're inhaled. Call 1-800-424-9393.


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