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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. Six months ago I purchased a used 1989 5.0 liter Ford Mustang LX with paint that was peeling. The previous owner informed me that Ford was experiencing a problem with peeling paint in that model year. I have also heard stories of other individuals who have experienced the same problem with their used Fords and after persistent complaining, were able to get Ford to repaint their cars. They claimed that it was a factory defect that caused their paint to peel. If all this is true, can you please inform me on how to best remedy my paint problem? I would much rather have Ford repaint my car so I can keep my money.
S.P. Dumont, NJ

A. Unfortunately, the folks at Ford would rather have you pay for your paint job yourself. The company did, indeed, have problems with paint not sticking to their cars in those days but I'm not privy to information regarding which assembly lines they came off of or what was the exact problem. The company did repaint or sometimes just "spot-in" some of the affected vehicles (trucks were involved too) but it was on a "squeaky-spoke" individual basis. It the owner complained loud enough and in the right places, Ford put oil (or in this case, paint) on that spoke. But that was many years ago and I think that you'll have a tough time getting Ford Motor Company to spring for new paint on an a second- hand machine that's seven years old. If it was so, I'm pretty sure that the guy you bought the car from would have had it done when he owned it.

Q. I'm the original owner of a 1968 Ford Mustang with the 289 V8 engine, two-barrel carburetor and an automatic transmission. It has 90,000 miles. In hot weather it heats up going fast up hills. I had a heavy-duty radiator put on it some time ago and it has been rodded out since then. It didn't help. I've also changed the thermostat to one that gives 180 degrees with no help either. I replaced the water pump 30,000 miles ago, checked the ignition timing and change the coolant every two years using half antifreeze and half water. Still it heats up but only in hot weather.
F.H. Quincy, CA

A. Check the systems that control the vacuum advance on the distributor. If the emissions control system is retarding the timing or if the diaphragm in the distributor vacuum advance unit is misadjusted or ruptured, the timing will be retarded under a load and the car may overheat. If all these systems are OK, check for is a slight combustion leak from the cylinder head gaskets. A small leak of burning fuel into the cooling system will produce overheating, especially when you put an uphill load on the car. A dye-check is the most efficient method. This system bubbles whatever gasses are present in the top of the radiator through a blue fluid. In the case of a major combustion leak, the fluid will change to yellow instantly. If the leak is slight, the fluid will slowly go from blue to green and then eventually to yellow.

Q. My mother is a widow and lives alone. She is elderly and doesn't get out very much but she insists on driving her own car. She sees very well and she is a good driver, having driven for almost 50 years. The problem is that she doesn't drive her '85 Oldsmobile Ciera very often or very far, maybe as little as 2000 miles per year. She believes in the maintenance schedule that's in the owner's manual but I think her car should be serviced more frequently.
O.L. Eugene, OR

A. The petroleum companies categorize driving only short distances as "severe service." The engine never really gets hot enough to operate right to rid the impurities that build up in the crankcase. Change the oil in her Olds every three months and do the car a favor by taking it for a good highway run once a month. The transmission and the rest of the driveline needs to be "exercised" once in a while, too.

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