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Owners should not mess with a vehicle's emissions equipment

By Junior Damato, February 14th, 2009

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1971 Toyota Corona. The emission tubing rotted and was replaced with rubber hosing. My problem seems to be a lack of gas getting to the carburetor. Is there a way to bypass the emissions to get the car to run normally? Hank

strong>Dear Hank: It is against the law to tamper with an emission systems. You need to have the car checked to determine if in fact there is a fuel problem. If it is a fuel delivery problem, then that might indicate there is a small pinhole in the suction line from the fuel tank to the fuel pump. A good technician can troubleshoot to see if the problem is a lean fuel condition.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2006 Ford Fusion. A clanking sound started at 6,000 miles and my current mileage is 17,000 miles. It started happening when I first step on the brakes when the car is cold. After a few brake applications the noise goes away. The dealer has replaced the front brake calipers and checked the front end. The noise is still there. What needs to be repaired? Jim

strong>Dear Jim: Your complaint sounds like it is brake-related from overnight moisture buildup and a light rust coating on the semi-metallic brake pads and rotors. The coating will cause the brake pads to actually grab with the first few brake applications. The design of brake calipers and pads are free floating and will move with each brake application. On cold days all rubber bushing and caliper slides do stiffen up. This causes a slight grabbing and is transferred to all moving suspension components and bushings. The noise you hear could be brake or front suspension bushing related. I suggest leaving the car on a Friday night so that the car sits a couple of nights and the technician can road-test the car personally on Monday. The problem does not sound like a safety-related issue.

strong>Dear Doctor: Two years ago I purchased a 1999 Corvette and now have 60,000 miles on it. Since I live in Arizona where the temperatures get very hot my local dealer suggested changing all the fluids at a cost of $700. Is the service necessary for preventative maintenance? Charles

strong>Dear Charles: Yes, since your low-mileage Corvette is approaching 10 years of age I would recommend replacement of the fluids. Go ahead and get a couple of additional price quotes. You can always go back to the dealer and ask for his best price.

strong>Dear Doctor: I am the original owner of a 1987 Nissan 300ZX automatic with only 125,000 miles. The problem the car is having is a loss of power/stalling condition. My mechanic replaced the coil last spring and the problem was resolved until December. The next parts to go were a distributor and fuel filter. The mechanic said he cannot check trouble fault codes because the computer is too old. I love this car and want to get it fixed. What do you think? Steven

strong>Dear Steven: The first step is to find a technician who can pull trouble fault codes from the computer in the car. Your mechanic does not seem to have the simple knowledge on how to pull fault codes from your car. Before anyone can pinpoint a problem information is needed. (site for mechanics and technicians) has archives of problems and repairs on many vehicles. I do not know how any quality repair shop can operate without it.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 Ford Explorer. The "check engine" light goes on and off and failed our state auto inspection test. My car mechanic said there is nothing wrong. Can you help? Bob

strong>Dear Bob: "Check engine" lights come on because the computer's signal is out of range. Any light-duty truck or van 1996 or newer has a computer system that can retain trouble fault codes. It takes a good technician and quality scan tools to access the computer's memory

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