Q: I have what you
might call a classic vintage car, a 1988 Lincoln Town Car. When I
was returning from the store about a month ago, I heard a loud
screech from the engine. I turned the key off, but it kept
screeching. About a quarter mile later, the noise stopped. I had it
towed to a shop where they replaced the starter and solenoid and
everything was fine for about two weeks, but the problem came back.
I opened the hood and smacked the solenoid with the handle of a
screwdriver and the noise quit. Do you think the repair shop left
the old solenoid in the car?
ó J.G., Chicago
A: If the solenoid
looks old and cruddy, yeah, they probably didnít change it.
However, even a new component can be faulty. Give the shop a chance
to make it good.
Q: We have a 1980
Lincoln Mark VI. Everything checked out fine during a recent tune-up
except that it blows black smoke. The mechanic canít find the
problem. Any ideas?
ó E.L., Allentown,
A: We donít often
have an opportunity to answer questions about classic cars, but two
in a row and both Lincolns? Wow. If memory serves us, the engine in
that car had a variable venturi carburetor. Thatís right, an old
fashioned carburetor. It needs attention. Black smoke indicates
excessive fuel being incompletely burned. By the way, blue smoke
comes from oil, not gas.
Q: How do you clean
an engine compartment?
ó B.R., Yorktown,
A: You could have it
professionally steam cleaned, but if you want to save some money,
clean it yourself. You will need an engine cleaning product and
there are plenty on the store shelves. After spraying it all around,
and waiting the prescribed time, rinse it off with water. If you
have a pressure washer, all the better. Just avoid any electrical
connections. You donít want water to get inside them.
Q: Have a wedding and
need to drive five family members and luggage 850 miles. Two are
seniors and Iím looking for comfort for the 14-hour drive.
Obviously a minivan will do, but when in 7-seat mode, the luggage
space is often small. Small SUVs seat five, but have little luggage
space. Larger SUVs seem to be what I want but there are a lot of
models. Plus it seems the luggage space can be an issue if all three
rows are used. Iím confused. So I thought perhaps youíd have an
opinion on some ďpremium SUVĒ or ďlarge SUVĒ models that
would fit the need. Give me something to use as a baseline to judge
the offering of the rental car company.
A: We donít do car
reviews, but three SUVs come to mind: The Chevrolet Suburban, Ford
Expedition (especially the EL version) and Toyota Sequoia. The
standard Suburban seats eight. It also has about 40 cubic feet of
cargo space. The seats in the Expedition will accommodate seven. The
Sequoia seats eight, seven with the second-row captainís chairs
which may suit the elders. All have adequate luggage space unless
grandma insists on bringing her steamer trunk.
(Editorís note: I
do car reviews, and if you donít want a full-size SUV, the Chevy
Tahoe and GMC Yukon are large; the largest midsize SUVs with three
rows are the new Chevy Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas.)