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Overcoming Oil-Consumption Problem

December 05, 1985|RALPH VARTABEDIAN | Times Staff Writer

Question: I purchased my six-cylinder 1980 Ford Fairmont new. It now has 40,330 miles on it. Between my previous oil changes, I added seven quarts of oil. Since my last oil change 840 miles ago, I have added three quarts of oil. There are absolutely no signs of oil leakage. And when starting and driving, there are no signs of oil smoke in the exhaust. It has to be going some place, but where?--M.F.M.

Answer: Your oil consumption is abnormally high, and that usually means an engine is burning oil. An engine doesn't usually leak that much oil unless oil is dripping or spraying out in operation and forming small puddles when parked.

Ford has encountered oil-consumption problems on the Fairmont engine and has issued a service bulletin dealing with the valve stem. The valve stem is a problem area in oil consumption because it is one of two key areas where oil can easily work its way into the combustion chamber and burn.

Ford has redesigned the valve-stem seal, and you may want to ask your dealer for an estimate on the job. The job requires several hours of labor, and the cost of the seals is small.

Incidently, the reason you don't have a massive plume of smoke coming out of your exhaust is because modern catalytic converters tend to burn up oil smoke with their high operating temperatures.

Q: Perhaps you can give me some help with the noisy electrical interference coming in at times on my 1985 Toyota Camry LE radio tuner and graphic equalizer. Some of the electrical interference drowns out my AM reception.--A.S.P.

A: All the additional electronic ignition and engine-control gear on newer cars have made diagnosing radio noise a lot more difficult than in the old days of breaker points and generators.

Generally, radio interference is caused either by the charging system or the ignition system. Sometimes, interference is caused by static electric charges that build up in the car frame.

Most radios, certainly one as sophisticated as your $490 unit, contain various filters to prevent problems. The engine also contains electronic suppressors to filter out noise.

The primary point at which AM noise enters a radio is in the antenna area or radio ground. Your mechanic should also make sure the car's hood is properly grounded against static charge. If the noise persists and it can be traced to the motor, it may require new or additional suppressors.

Finally, you may want to have the system diagnosed by a qualified audio shop, which may have better expertise in such matters than your dealer.

Q: In July, 1984, I bought a 1984 Ford Mustang. I have a 12,000-mile warranty and so far have about 7,000 miles on the car. I have returned the car to the dealer four times because it keeps stalling when stopped. Although I am aware of the lemon laws, I don't have enough information. The dealer refuses to to give me any other information except to tell me to return the car for more service. I certainly don't want these repairs once my warranty expires.--L.G.

A: If your dealership service department is unable to solve a problem after one or two attempts, you should request that the manufacturer's representatives be called in to look at the car and diagnose it.

Ford requires every one of its dealers to have a form that requests a factory engineering representative look at the car and assist the dealer in solving a problem. I suggest you fill out the form and call in the experts. They may not solve the problem, but you should take all the normal and free-of-charge steps before you attempt legal remedies.

Ralph Vartabedian cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to automotive questions of general interest. Do not telephone. Write to Your Wheels, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.

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