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Automania/Repair & Maintenance

Auto Questions And Answers For Week 34 Year 2001

by Bob Hagin

Q. The clutch on my 1990 Mustang was slipping so bad that it would hardly move so I replaced it with the help of a friend who had taken a year of auto shop in high school. We did it in his garage at his parents house and it was a terrible hassle. We didn't have the clutch lined up and couldn't get it bolted in. We took it out twice and then went back to the parts store where I bought it. The clerk sold me a lineup tool and explained how to do it. We finally got it in and now it works but it vibrates really bad when I first let out the clutch.
M.C. Lubbock, TX

A. A little knowledge can be dangerous. No doubt the flywheel is scored and must be resurfaced or replaced. It's also possible that you bent the clutch plate or the throwout bearing fork when you botched the first attempt. Buy a comprehensive repair manual on your Mustang, start over and hope that your friend's parents are patient and understanding.

Q. I have a 1988 Ford Tempo with only 67,000 miles on the odometer. I've had my Tempo for 13 years. It was just a year old when I bought it. I want to keep my car until it falls apart. What do I need to do to keep my car in good running condition? I only drive it three or four times a week. Would you keep a 1988 car with these miles on it? I don't want to have a mechanic see me come into his store and try to clean me out of my money. I love my car and want it to last a long time, I am a woman and don't know anything about a car.
E.B. Norfolk, VA

A. You're starting out on the wrong foot if you're afraid that auto mechanics are out to cheat you. Most mechanics who have been around a while work on cars and trucks because they like the business and can make an honest living. I hope that you've followed the factory service schedule during the 13 years that you've owned it. Short hops around town are hard on a car and such items as brakes and automatic transmissions take a beating. Cars with up to 300,000 miles on them aren't unusual in areas where rust isn't a major problem so at 67,000 miles your Ford is relatively young. To find a reputable auto service shop, ask your friends or co-workers and if they like "their" mechanic, they'll tell you so. Those big ads in the Yellow Pages aren't certifications of quality so shop for quality and not a deal.

Q. I own a 1990 Dodge Dakota. I bought it new and currently 123K miles rolled up. Since about 23K miles, it has slowly gotten a vibration that occurs when the vehicle is in a near neutral torque or driveline mode position. It particularly occurs when at high speed in cruise control on a slight downgrade. If the engine is under load either acceleration or deceleration, it doesn't manifest. It feels like a driveline "cross" does when it's failing. I had them replaced and the driveline balanced. I have tested the vehicle with all accessories disconnected but it still occurs. The transmission self-destructed at 70K miles and was replaced complete with torque converter but it still occurs. It can get horrendous after a long drive. I have had it into several Dodge agencies and independent shops but no one can pinpoint it. It is equipped with a locking differential.
R.A. Cameron Park, CA

A. You don't state if your Dakota has a four, V6 or V8 cylinder engine or if it's a 4X2 or 4X4 or which wheelbase it has but I assume it's a two-wheel drive with a V8 and a short wheelbase. Sometimes the cause-and-repair of a problem is specific to a particular combination of mechanical parameters. It's hard to second or third-guess a "cruise" vibration but I've had to replace differential pinion gear bearings that went bad and vibrated. Drop the rear end oil and use a magnet to check for ferrous chips. Sometimes those locking differentials come apart without making a lot of noise in the process.


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