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Automania/Repair and Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have a Datsun Deluxe model 210 two-door sedan made in 1980. I have only put 73,000 miles on it in all these years because I just use it to drive around town on shopping trips and to church. The car runs better than some of the new ones but I have been told that Nissan (the new name of the company that made my car) does not make parts for this car any longer. Can you tell me if and where I can locate parts for it? They still make parts for other models of the 1980 Datsun line according to our mechanic and I wonder if some of these parts are adaptable to my model 210. I was told that I might have to get parts from a junk yard.
L.J. Athens, GA

A. The rule of thumb is that auto makers provide parts for their products until seven years after the year of manufacture but like any other business, company will continue to make an item as long as there's a significant consumer demand for it. "Hard" parts like engine bearings, transmission parts, etc. are still available through Nissan dealers although some of them are in such little demand that a dealer's parts department may have to order them from the a central warehouse or even from the factory in Japan. Most of these same hard parts are also made by aftermarket parts manufacturers and available through independent parts stores. You may be out of luck if you need small trim parts like plastic dashboard parts, door hinges, etc. and these may only be available from a dismantler. Involving as much money as they do, I hate to refer to the used parts sold at a dismantler's as "junk."

Q. I own a 1990 Eagle Talon TSi (turbocharged model) which is in perfect condition inside and out. Since buying the car new I've been meticulous about changing the oil, doing tune-ups, etc. I want to keep this car for a long time since it only has 65,000 miles. My problem is that I'm going overseas next year and I can not take the car with me. I expect to be gone at least one year and maybe as long as three. How do I prepare a car for long-term storage? Should I drain all the fluids, disconnect the battery and put it on jacks or should I get someone to start it up and drive it for a few miles on a regular basis?
M.W. Seaside, CA

A. If you're going to be gone for a year, get someone to drive it around every week or so to keep things "limber" but caution them to keep the fuel level low and to put in a small amount of fresh gasoline occasionally. Gas goes stale if it sits around too long. Also caution them to let the engine idle a half-minute or so as they shut it down to let the turbo cool off and stop spinning. If it's more than a year, change the oil and filter, drain the gas tank (some guys even run some "white" gas through the system), remove the battery, put the car up on jack stands in a garage with the stands under the suspension units (keeps the strain off the body and doors), leave a window open a bit, put some silica in a pan inside the car to absorb moisture and cover it with something that won't stick to it in the heat, and cover the tires with blankets. When you're coming back, drop me a note ahead of time and I'll tell you how to mobilize it again.

Q. I have my 1993 Ford Taurus taken care of by the book although not by a Ford shop. The last time the car was up on the rack, the mechanic noticed that the rear tires were wearing on the inside edges more than on the outside. He says that the suspension may be out of alignment but isn't sure that it's adjustable.
M.H. Seattle, WA

A. This has been a problem with front-drive Fords and in order to cure rear suspension systems that are out of specifications, the company sells a adjustable suspension kit for the Taurus and Mercury Sable built from '86 to '95. It consists of a package of nuts, bolts, washers and an instruction sheet. It allows a technician to adjust the rear suspension.

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