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Automania/Repair and Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have restored a '70 Olds V8 Cutlass four-door sedan. One problem I'm having with it is trying to get it started after it sits for a while - particularly after it sits overnight. I always have to do a lot of "toe-dancing" with the gas pedal before it finally gets going.
F.T. Norfolk, VA

A. If you didn't rebuild the Rochester carburetor when you went through the engine, better check it out. It sounds like the fuel is being siphoned out of the float bowl when you shut it down and it's possible that the siphon-break passages are plugged. If the carburetor is a Quadrajet four-barrel, it's possible that the plugs on the bottom of the main discharge tube passages are leaking. It's pretty common and it's simple enough to seal them with epoxy and the unit doesn't have to be dismantled to do it but it does have to be pulled off the manifold and cleaned up.

Q. I drive my 1989 Ford Mustang convertible from April through October since I live in an area where the winters are sometimes cold and snowy and then take the car off the road. I would like your advice on storing the vehicle outside. Should I cover the car and if so, what type of cover should I use? I have a nylon cover that it not waterproof. Will this help or hurt the paint? How should I protect the convertible top? What is best for the car's paint? I try to put a good coat of wax on the car prior to storage but I wonder if it's worth the effort. I put gas stabilizer in the car and run it prior to storing it. What else I should be doing? It's nice now but winter is just around the corner.
R.W. Bridgeport, CT

A. Storing a convertible outside for six months in the snow and rain might qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Heavy waxing is good, especially around the windshield frame, etc., where moisture can stand and cause rust. Disconnect the battery, too. Hopefully your Ford will be parked on a hard surface and if so, you might want to jack it up and put jack stands under the front and rear suspensions. Don't put the jack stands under the body or it might take a "set" and the doors won't close right. The nylon cover is good but in addition you might also consider constructing a PVC pipe tent frame and covering it with a plastic tarp. These tarps come in various sizes and last a couple of seasons. If you build the tent frame around the dimensions of a tarp that's big enough to cover your Mustang, you can dismantle it (as long as you don't glue the joints together), fold up the tarp and store the whole thing under the house. I left the ends of mine open so moisture wouldn't build up under it. You can buy ready-made car tents but when the covers age and tear, you have to buy a whole new one because new covers aren't sold separately.

Q. We have a 1987 Jeep Cherokee that we bought second hand and it has very low mileage on it - around 60,000 miles. Since we bought it, we have found that it has a very high-pitched brake squeal that comes from the rear brakes. It happens almost all the time and while it doesn't have any effect on the performance of the brakes, it's very annoying. We asked the former owner about the noise and he said that it has been there since he bought it. He also said that the dealer he bought it from couldn't cure it.
K.P. Boise, ID

A. Sometimes you have to do a bit of historical research to find the answer to a car problem. I checked some vintage Jeep service bulletins and found that the problem only showed up in some Cherokees, Comanches and Wagoneers of that year. It was traced to a vibration in the rear drum brake backing plates on some of the rear ends used in Jeep products in '87 and '88. Jeep dealers have access to a weight kit that bolts to the backing plates and it cures the problem.

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