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Automania/Repair and Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I own a 1993 Ford Ranger 4X4 Supercab XLT pickup with a 4.0 liter V6 engine and an automatic transmission. It now has 113,000 miles on the clock, and I had a 75,000-mile extended service plan, but it seems that everything held together until the plan expired. At 83,000 miles I was told that it needed a new pinion seal which I had put in. At 101,000 miles, I was told that it was gone again. I just got a major tuneup at 113,000 miles and part of this work was to replace the pan gasket and rear main seal. When I talked to the mechanic regarding the pan gasket and the rear main seal, he told me that this was something that seemed to occur in a lot of Rangers with the 4.0 liter V6 engine.
D.F. Elk Grove, CA

A. If you didn't notice any oil leakage spots on your driveway, I hope that you took the time to have the mechanic raise your truck on a rack and point out where the leaks were taking place. The usual cause for seal failure is the wrong or poor quality seal, incorrect installation, or a rough surface on the shaft that it's sealing. I always make sure the surface is clean of varnish buildup, un-nicked and that the seal was well-lubricated with grease and oil before installation. The second seal should have at least lasted as long as the first. The pan gasket may have simply shrunk up, since the original equipment is built to a price and not always top-quality stuff. By "rear main seal" I assume that you mean that the rear crankshaft main bearing seal was leaking. That's a really big job that involves pulling the transmission and dropping the crankshaft a bit to get the seal out. It's not a cheap or easy job and before it's done, it's a good idea to check it out very carefully since a misdiagnosis is expensive for the owner.

Q. I've bought and sold a lot of cars and I'm thinking of going into the sale of used cars as a business. Is there any literature available on how to get going? I've already located an empty used car lot.
F.W. Tacoma, WA

A. Start with your state's department of motor vehicles for the licensing and insurance requirements, but the rule of thumb is that the major cause of new business failures are undercapitalization and inadequate record-keeping. The only understandable book I know of on the subject is Automotive Business Management and Expense Control by Fred Winger, a 50-year veteran of the trade. Fred sells them himself and you can contact him at Box 60531, Bakersfield, CA 93386.

Q. Is there any car designed for the comfort and safety of short drivers? Since I am only five feet tall, I have to put the seat fully forward so that I can reach the gas pedal in my Ford Tempo. In this position I feel too restricted and cramped to feel safe. When I fasten the seat belt, they are too tight and the shoulder harness across my throat has me pulling it away with my right hand and driving with my left. If I slip out of it, I'm breaking the law and it encumbers my left elbow as well. The frames between the doors makes a blind spot and traffic coming up on either side from the rear surprises me. I'm too restricted to look back over my shoulder, so I only drive on country roads. City traffic and freeway on-ramps are not safe for me, either. I removed the headrests and that helped. In the two years since I bought this car, I've always felt that I could be killed by strangulation or by having my head cut off in a serious collision.
F.Q. Creswell, OR

A. My short friend who advised me on this said she first looks for a vehicle that has adjustable shoulder harness pillar anchors and a tilt steering column. Some of the newer cars also have front seats that are adjustable for height, too. I once had to put pedal extensions on a car for a small driver, so there's that custom option too. In retrospect, I don't think that you took that Tempo on a long enough test ride.

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