Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

About the Maintenance and Repair Message Board

bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Posts: 115
edited April 2014 in General
This Conference is the place to talk about your
maintenance tips and any problems you are
experiencing, or have experienced, with your
vehicle. Share your skills, questions, and
resources with us.

While we can't offer a guaranteed fix for every
problem that's posted, it is the Conference's goal
to help steer people toward a solution.

So, first introduce yourself and your vehicles.
Tell us a little about what you're looking for from
this Conference, and stop by this topic regularly
to help each other find the right topic for the

Bonnie Rick
Town Hall Community Manager, 


  • will be gus. Those of you who have been part of our Town Hall Community know him from our Welcome Conference, which will be closing soon.

    Assisting him, as needed, will be Mr_Shiftright, soon to be formerly of the Smart Shopper Conference, and now the Host of Sports Cars, (formerly Coupes and Convertibles) as well as Classic Cars.

    Phew, try saying that, three times, fast... And now, a word from your Host...

    Bonnie Rick
    Town Hall Community Manager,
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Hello all! I posted a blurb in Topic #2 without even looking at the Topic List (oops), and that message was probably more appropriate for this topic. At any rate, I'm looking forward to helping others and learning from others as well.

    A little about myself. I'm currently employed as a mechanic at an auto repair shop in the San Francisco Bay Area that specializes in Volvos and Toyotas. I've also had a bit of experience with Nissans and Mazdas, but not too much. I prefer to work on Vovlo 240s, but I have owned a 122, several 140s and a 164, so I know something about those models as well. My work also allows me to work on Vovlo 740s and a decent selection of Toyotas. My wife and I currently own a 1993 Toyota Corolla and two Vespa motorscooters (I'm still trying to figure those things out). The Corolla is a great car (I'd recommend it to anyone) and the scooters are, in a word, interesting (easy mechanics, confounding electrics).

    Why do I work on cars? Well, I didn't really ever want to, but it just sort of happened. My father and his business partner opened a shop in 1981, when I was 12. During the summer of '82, when I was between seventh and eighth grades, my father encouraged me to go out and find a summer project. We discussed the idea of a summer project on the first Sunday of summer. He said that he'd give me a week to find a project, or else I'd have to work for him at the shop that summer. Well, on Monday evening, when dad got home from a long day of working on cars and running a business, I was still in my PJs watching television. He saw that I really hadn't been focusing too hard on finding a summer project, so guess where I wound up on Tuesday morning? Yup, you guessed it. At the shop.

    I worked at the shop every summer thereafter until I graduated college (1993). For the entire year after I graduated college, I worked at the shop--it wasn't a job in my degree field, but it was a job! After that initial year, I quit working on cars and took a desk job at the San Francisco International Airport. After a year and a half at the Airport, I quit and returned to work for my dad and his partner. I've been working on cars continually for the past two and a half years.

    I look forward to seeing old faces and meeting some new ones!
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Gus, for those of us moving up the corporate ladder, who will at least have the opportunity to buy those expensive machines sometime, could you summarize briefly what's in a Volvo, and what Volvo means? Swedish cars are still kind of a mystery to me.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Well, guitarzan, thanks for asking! Volvo, in Latin, means "I roll." Volvos are known for their safety, and depending upon who you ask, their reliability. The former has always been a feature of Volvos (a Volvo engineer designed the three-point safety harness), and the latter has always been pretty much the case, with a few notable exceptions--the later 140 & 160 models, and the 260 & 760 (non-turbo) models. Volvos have the reputation of being underpowered tanks that start to break in at around 100,000 miles. I've only had the opportunity to look under the hood of a Saab once or twice, but I get the impression that the two cars are not all that similar in terms of engine design (maybe Mr. Shiftright can shed some light on this matter).

    Despite their "luxurious" reputation, Volvos have not traditionally been categorized as "luxury vehicles" in the same way that such cars as Mercedes' or Jaguars have (it's mainly a price thing). A good many used Volvos are available at reasonable prices.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    It has always been my impression is that Volvos are for Swedes who don't like to drive and Saabs are for those that do....both tough cars in their own way, but neither one is a Benz or a BMW...not yet, anyway...long may they be the "other European cars"--variety is nice.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    I always figured 'Saab' was Swedish for 'Fiat'.

    But seriously,...

    I don't know which of these categories tp put this in, so I'm placing it here.

    My '95 Civic EX coupe is vibrating. Feels like a cv joint. I replaced a pair of wheels hoping it might be a bent rim (and it still could be). I don't regret this. The worst that could happen is that eventually I'll have 4 good redundant rims for snow tires. I probably should have figured it's not the wheels, since the speed of the oscillation doesn't seem to vary with the speed of the car.

    The question is, how much money would you expect the work to cost? I ask this so that they don't surprise me with a bill 3 times larger than it should be.

    Oddly, the factory manual has very little about changing cv's, or I might be tempted to do it myself.

    PS to Gus:
    '88 760 Wagon for $4500. Let's assume reasonable mileage and maintenance. Any thoughts about the car? Strengths/weaknesses, etc. You like the 6cyl?
  • gusgus Posts: 254

    First question: Are you thinking of having just the CV joints replaced/repacked, or are you thinking of getting new axles (w/new CV joints attached)?

    Second question: Don't bother with the wagon. The Volvo six-cylinder engine was a dog. I believe it was engineered by Renault. Recurring head gasket problems and timing-cover leaks made the 260s and 760s real problem cars. You don't see many 260s or 760s on the road anymore, and there's a reason for that! A 760 Turbo (which has the 4-cyl turbo engine) is a good car, worth considering.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    That's very surprising about the Volvo straight 6. Have you seen that small-block chevy V8 conversion for the 200-series that's been written up in the magazines? That'd be a trip.


    I didn't know that repacking was an option. Also didn't know that new axles might be necessary. Is it common to need new axles when a cv gets to the point of noticeable vibration? Axles sounds expensive. Repacking would be great if that'll do the trick.

    What I had in mind was 2 new cv's and whatever ancillary junk you need (seals, boots, I don't know).

    What are the criteria that a mechanic uses to tell whether it'll require repacking, new axles, or something in between (aside from his fiscal needs at the moment)?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    C13---I think he means that it may be cheaper in the long run to buy the "kits", which are rebuilt CV & axle all in muss, no fuss, you just bolt the whole thing in and save all that labor time. Problem is figuring out which one to replace...usually, it's the inboard CV that goes, but on which side? Sometimes you have to break them down to see the damage, and with all that effort you might as well just replace both sides and be done with it for the next XX thousand miles.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Interesting. Thanks.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Mr. S is correct about the CV joint question. If your CV joints become too worn out, it's worth it to get a new axle (with rebuilt joints already in place). As far as criteria for replacement are concerned, you should consider whether or not the worn CV joints are causing any damage to other components, say the wheel hubs/bearings or the transaxle, or brake rotors. In most cases, this isn't a problem. I think safety is the primary concern with worn CV joints. You don't want the joints to become so worn out that they'll tear apart and cause you to lose your steering, or a wheel or something like that. I should hope that the vibration and noise would be so bad that you'd replace them before they become that unsafe, though!

    As far as Volvo stuff goes: The engines in the 260 and the 760 were V-6 engines. The problem with the head gaskets was that there was coolant/oil interchange, and the oil would gum up and screw up various engine functions such as the crank case ventilation system. For a Volvo straight-six, you'd have to go back to the 164 (last produced in '74, I think). I've heard that Volvo may be putting a twin-turbo straight six in some of their upcoming (or present) models.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    Wasn't that engine the one they used in the Delorean?

    Yep, volv's got an I-6 in there already, transversely mounted, which is, I believe, a first.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Jeese, reminds me of my 1980 Olds 307's crankcase ventilation and egr, which never seemed to work right. It was like an experimental green car with emissions idiocy written all over it. Even the block couldn't be tweaked to produce much more power :(

    Well, I knew all about Volvo's long established safety. I was hoping you were going to tell me that these new, somewhat stylish Volvos (relatively speaking :) ) were as exciting to drive as the cars Mr. S. pointed out. As I read through your post, and the word "boring" got permanently tattoo'd in my mind, I realized how wrong I was.

    OK Mr. S., how about the gist of a new Saab. Yes, the reliability probably isn't proven yet, right? (Same thing that scares me from VW's still, which I can actually afford :( ) Saabs are fun to drive, I test drove many models while valeting cars. (No, I only got one paycheck, and no bonus for the "testing" part.) Aren't the Swedes engineering marvels, sometimes upstaging Germans? How long do the brakes last? Electronics well built? Turbos cooled and lubricated well enough to last a good long time? And what is unique? (I noticed the body shape, hehe.)
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Guitarzan, go to the Volvo showroom and take a spin in one. Volvos have traditionally been underpowered tanks, but I think that Volvo has been trying to beef up its cars' power plants in order to make the newer models a little more interesting. I seem to recall Edmund's giving the C70 a fairly decent review. Since I work at an independent shop, it takes a while before we get the newer models in to work on--their owners are usually waiting for the warranty period to end before taking them to an independent shop.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    For me, what's appealing about a Saab comes down to three things and three things only:

    Lots of practical space
    great, reliable turbo I-4 engine
    Weird enough to be different than the common herd.

    Is it as "good" all-around as a German car...that is, could it score as high in all relevant areas, rather than excel in a few?, I don't think so. It's not the best handler, doesn't have the best fit and finish, and has not yet demonstrated the best reliability.

    I'd put it over a Volvo, though, at least the S70 and S80, haven't a clue about the C70, so will reserve judgment. The S70 in particular, needs to go back in the barn for a re-do.

    I'd expect Saab maintenance costs to be average or higher than average.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • ljd2ljd2 Posts: 1
    My daughter is 16 and will need a car this summer to get her to a job. We want a car that will last three more years of high school and 4 years of college. I found a 1992 Honda Accord LX 4 door with 48,000 is really great shape. They want 8,500 for it. My husband knows a guy at work that knows a women at his church that has a 1989 Mustang that has always been kept garage for 2,500 and has 75,000 miles. I don't know which 89 model it is but I don't think it matters cause I think it isn't the best deal. What do you think?
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Mr. S. and Gus, I really appreciate your inputs!

    Ljd2, the newer car, with fewer miles, and better reputation seem to be a better choice for me.

    Of course, if the Stang had a 5.0 liter, the excitement factor could sway me.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Hi, can't create a topic now, so thought I'd try here. Anyone know where I can get the part number for a front end clip for my Acura? It got cracked pretty badly during the bad weather. :( Is there an online reference for this?
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    The Alldata CD rom kit gives part numbers, but they're not always right--and that is the CD rom version--I don't know if an online locater exists. You might just try calling the dealer and asking for a number by application, that is, by giving them as much specific information as you can about the part, beginning with year/model/etc. If you have the clip in hand, you can even describe it to them, as well. I know, it's not online, but it works!

    Good luck.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Thanks Gus, I think I will call the dealer. I have a supplier for the part, but he needs the right number. I didn't know if the dealer would simply give it to me, we'll see.

    In hand? I mean the ENTIRE front clip :(
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    No, you don't want to give a 16 year old a 5.0 Mustang...I'd go with the Honda but it is priced too high...more like $6,500-7,000 tops. They're asking $1,000 over retail book!

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • Hello everyone. You'll usually find me in the smart shoppers conference(I should be in the dumb shoppers conference). Anyway, I bought a 93 firebird with some problems. (suspension, mainly, pretty hard to spot when looking over the car.)And I found out the cruel reality that some places just don't inspect the vehicles very thoroughly. I have two questions: Right lower ball joint needs replaced. How difficult is it? Costly? Left front wheel bearings also need to be replaced. Again, how difficult is it, and how costly? Thanks.

    P.S. My father is so happy. Now I don't have to bother him every time my car goes doink or clink!!
  • I am new to this place, and I am not sure if this is where I should put my question, but here goes anyway.

    I have a 97 Plymouth Breeze. The thing idles so rough that I feel like my teeth are going to vibrate out of my head. I took it to the dealer and they said that it was normal. I don't think that could possibly be right. Any ideas???

    I also have a problem with it starting. Sometimes it just won't do it. Up until yesterday, it would refuse to start for a few tries, then it would start right up. The check engine light would come on and stay on. Again, I took it to the dealership. They plugged the computer check thing into it, and it read Ignition Coil. They kept my car for a week and then told me that it only needed a tune-up. I got the tune-up done, and $150 dollars later took it home. I got in the car to go back to work and guess what. It wouldn't start. It only happens if the engine is warm. It is usually after it has only been sitting for a few minutes. It cannot be the spark plugs or wires because they were just replaced. I had to have it towed yesterday because it refused to start for over an hour, and I figured that it would just not start at all. Needless to say, when it got to the shop, it started just fine, so they can't figure out what is wrong with it.

    Somebody please help me. I am at a loss. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    Dear's quite difficult to diagnose car problems on a modern automobile from this distance away (it's difficult when you have it in the shop!) but this does sound it could be a defective ignition module that is failing when heated up. Since Jeeps are notorious for this and it's made by the same company, who knows? The vibration is another matter entirely, and may be tuneup related or emissions related.

    Guess what? The dealer guessed wrong and you should have them take that coil right outta there or not charge you for it if it didn't correct the problem...ask them to swap it for an ignition module in their shop and then try the car over there. If it starts, problem solved and you're not out any more money.

    Jerry--no, a lower ball joint and a wheel bearing are not big repairs per se, but they may require some disassembly and special tools, depending on the car and depending on whether it is an inner or outer wheel bearing. I'd figure a couple hundred bucks at a reputable shop. The wheel bearing diagnosis is based on what? Noise? How can they know a wheel bearing is bad when they can't see it? (at least a ball joint can be loaded and jiggled around and judged by eye).

    So I'd do the ball joint and get another opinion on the wheel bearing, unless it's making quite a bit of noise or they can show you the bad bearing.

    good luck!

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Mr. Shiftright is right about the wheel bearings, although sometimes they make a rumble (which is hard to differentiate from tire noise), and you can key in on that. If you have someone do the repair, ask them (beforehand) to save the parts for you, and ask them, after the repair, to show you what was wrong. If the shop knows, going into the job, that you're interested in seeing the parts, they may be just a bit more careful in their inspection. Who knows, they may find that your bearings were not so bad after all!
  • Mr Shiftright and Gus,
    thanks much for the quick response. The mechanic is very reputable, my family has used him for years. He once saved me 2000 on an engine replacement when I drove a quad 4 and he found a minor problem that he fixed for 60 bucks. Anyway,
    he literally tore the car apart. How exactly he found the wheel bearings were bad, I don't know. I assume he saw something or heard something. He did tell me that he could visibly see that the lower ball joint was shot. How do you find out if wheel bearings are bad? Is it extremely noisy or just ride funny?
  • In reference to my previous post, it was the dealership that I was referring to, not my mechanic, as far as shoddy inspections go.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    I know some people who can hear wheel bearing noise really well. I'm not one of those people. As the bearings get progressively worse, you'll hear more noise. Inspection of bad bearings reveals metal flecks in the grease and along the sides of the bearings, and pitting/scoring on the bearing races (the solid part of the brake disc or drum that spins around the bearings).
  • pjs01pjs01 Posts: 1
    Hi Gus and Mr. Shiftright-

    This is my first visit to this site and I'm really impressed! It's great to have this info online!
    I have a question for you...
    I own a '94 Nissan Sentra, 71K miles - runs great. I just moved to a new area of town and my old mechanic who I trust completely is now too far away to go to. I went to a new shop and had the oil/filter changed etc. My question is this-
    I was informed that my Sentra would/could possibly develop an oil leak in the front casing around 100k-110k miles. To the tune of $1000. to repair. Any truth to this?? Is this problem inherent to this model? Any info would be great!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,338
    Yes, PJS, there could be a problem with the Sentra...the front timing case cover is GLUED to the engine I believe, and behind that case is some kind of O-ring that leaks. Nissan was fixing these under warranty up to 70K miles, so you may be able to go in and have it done...presuming it's leaking....and it may be already, you should check.

    The reason it's expensive is that it is a bear to get in there and remove the cover! I believe you have to drop the engine off its mounts to do that, along with all the belts and pulleys and accessories and oil pan, etc.

    So I think they were quite right in warning you...this will probably happen, but of course it doesn't always and I hope you're lucky! By the way, the leak is really obvious, we aren't talking a drip here, so there will be no doubt in your mind when it happens.

    Mr. Shiftright

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

This discussion has been closed.