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Automania/Repair and Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. My husband was a great mechanic for many years so I never had to worry when car things went wrong. I have a '68 Ford Galaxie, the newest car I ever owned, and it runs great. Like humans, time takes its toll on automobiles, too. My problem is that the left front window - the driver's side - has no more weather stripping and the sealing surface is completely worn out. I have to tape it up to seal it. I also need the felt stripping that guides the glass. I've called all the glass companies and auto parts stores in this area but no one can help me. Do you know of anyone who carries this stripping or can even get it for a car this old? There are several local shops here who would put it in. I will never be able to afford another car unless I win the lottery.
L.R. Sacramento, CA

A. Welcome to the Hobby Car world. You can still get "hard" parts for your Galaxie but cars as old as yours have been out of the mainstream so long that ancillary trim parts and even some expendable suspension parts are almost impossible to find. Fortunately the hobby end of the auto parts business is pretty much all-encompassing and old Fords are pretty popular with hobbyists. I'm sending you copies of 10 pages out of the Ford parts section of the new Vintage Auto Almanac. Prepare a form letter describing in detail what you need (and include the Vehicle Identification Number from the door jamb), make enough copies to send one to every shop on the list (include self-addressed, stamped envelopes) and you may be able to find what you need from somewhere in the country. Let me know what you buy if you win the lottery.

Q. I recently had brake pads put on the front and rear of my '88 Volvo The problem is that they squeal so badly when I put on the brakes that it is embarrassing. The brakes work fine. I even took the car back to the shop that did the job and they roughed up the rotors but it didn't seem to help. Short of having new ones put on (if that would help and I refuse to do that very soon), is there anything else that would stop this annoying problem?
D.D. Onley, VA

A. Brake pads that are very "hard" or very cheap often make that ear-splitting screech you're hearing. Most pad makers supply a kind of "glue" with the pad sets that is to be applied to the metal backing of the pads as they're installed. It dampens-out the high frequency vibration that's causing the noise. It also helps to have the rotors re-machined as opposed to just "roughed-up" but both operations require some additional labor. Get the installer to do both and take a road test with him or her to make sure the noise is gone. You should get what you pay for which is brakes that are as quiet as the previous set.

Q. I own an '87 Toyota Camry (four cylinder) with a little over 30,000 miles on it. Every time I take it to the dealer for service I'm told that the timing belt should be replaced due to the age of the car. The owner's manual recommends replacing the timing belt at 60,000 miles only if the car is driven under severe conditions. There is no mention of replacing the belt if the car is driven under normal conditions. I don't drive the car very much and I realize that short trips put the car in the gray area between normal and severe driving. I'm planning to replace the belt at 45,000 miles just to be on the safe side.
J.M. Eugene, OR

A. Two years ago I got a letter from a Toyota owner who had to replace the broken belt in her Tercel twice in 60,000 miles but it was caused by a water pump problem. The belt is protected from direct sunlight and you obviously don't drive it hard so I don't think the age of the belt should be a factor. They don't have a shelf-life in the dealer's parts room but I think your wise to have it replace at 45,000 miles. It might be interesting for you to look it over after it's removed.

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