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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have a 1963 Mercury Monterey four-door sedan which I have just repainted in the original factory two-tone colors. I would like to continue restoring the car and wonder if you know where I can find some of the chrome molding. I need it for the sides of the doors and the panels and also for the tops of the doors. I'm also in need of an original hubcap and several other small trim pieces.
C.C. Flagstaff, AZ

A. It's interesting to me that like many other auto hobbyist, you are restoring what used to be considered a parts-car for the restoration of more desirable models like the Muscle Car versions or the convertibles. But as those cars become scarce or priced so high as to be unobtainable, the more common old cars are becoming restoration projects. Since you've now entered the ranks of amateur auto restorers, you'll need to network with shops, dismantling yards and clubs that specialize in this field. The Vintage Auto Almanac is published every couple of years, Hemmings Motor News comes out monthly and Old Cars Weekly is, as the title implies, a weekly periodical. All of them (as well as a couple more) cater to us owners of vintage iron and you should at least peruse their advertisements at your local library if you don't want to subscribe. Musclecar Review is another monthly and its ads are for shops that specialize in cars of the '60s and early '70s. Old iron is under attack by government agencies that claim they are a major source of air pollution and should be scrapped. It would behoove owners of oldies-but-goodies to keep them up, register them as collectible cars with their state departments of motor vehicles if possible and join old car organizations that have developed some political clout.

Q. I recently had the automatic transmission on my 1988 Buick repaired. I took it in to have the automatic transmission fluid changed and its filter replaced. It had a leak at the seal and in the line going up to the radiator. I didn't notice any slippage but I was admonished by the mechanic. He said that I'd better have it checked or there would be a breakdown that would damage the differential. Checking it cost $385. After it was taken apart for inspection, I was told that there were many things wrong with it and I agreed to have it fixed. The final cost was $2,174. Now that it is fixed, it makes a noticeable clunk when shifting from one gear to another. I was told that it was normal but this didn't happen before it was rebuilt. I feel like I got something fixed that wasn't really broken.
L.M. Roseville, CA

A. You may be right - but it's too late to do anything about it now. Getting your car fixed is like going to a doctor: if you're not familiar with him or her and major surgery is recommended, you go get a second opinion and you should do the same with your car. You're entitled to be given all the broken parts but they're probably in the scrap pile by now. Take you Buick to a couple of other shops and ask for an analysis, then take it back to the folks who did the job. You can check with the state bureau that controls auto repairs to file a complaint and go to small claims court too, but if you signed a repair order authorizing the job, I don't think you haven't got much hope of winning.

Q. I recently had the front brakes replaced on my '90 Chevrolet Camaro because a screeching noise came from the front wheels. It has a V6 motor, an automatic transmission and 108,000 miles. My boy friend did the job but now the brake pedal pulsates when I step on it lightly. He says the brakes are OK and doesn't know what to do next.
D.H. Wolf Creek, OR

A. Your front brakes are like the brakes on a bicycle. Two pads "pinch" a rotor that turns with the wheel and those rotors are warped. The cure is to remove both rotors and have them machined straight.

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