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Your Wheels

A Second Opinion May Help Improve Mileage

January 08, 1987|RALPH VARTABEDIAN | Times Staff Writer

Question: We bought a 1985 Oldsmobile Regency Brougham with a six cylinder engine. No matter how hard I try, I can't get better than 14 miles to the gallon. The dealer checked it but said the car runs fine and charged me $39. Is this normal gas mileage around town?--J.B.

Answer: If your driving is confined exclusively to city streets and you're constantly jamming your accelerator to the floor, it's conceivable that you could be degrading your fuel economy that badly.

But in any normal use of your car, only 14 miles per gallon would be unacceptably low. The car should get 28 to 32 miles per gallon in open highway driving at 55 miles per hour. You may want to find another dealer or mechanic with better diagnostic skills and one who isn't ready to do a useless check for $39.

Q: I bought a Toyota Camry in 1984, only because of Toyota's reputation for reliability. But the car has one major defect in that the engine has cut out several times and will not restart. The conditions are the same each time: outside temperature is more than 80 degrees, four passengers in the car, air conditioner on and at least a 45-minute trip at 60 miles per hour. After about 15 minutes with the hood up, the car restarts, but runs for only five minutes. I would appreciate your response.--C.Z.

A: In most cases of intermittent stalling, a motorist almost never gets to the bottom of what is causing the problem, but in your case you should be able to get it fixed once and for all.

Although the problem happens only infrequently, it is caused by a defective rubber seal in the Camry's fuel pump.

The defective seal allows gasoline to leak internally inside the pump, causing a flow between the suction and discharge cycles of the gas pump. It usually happens only under hot conditions and when the engine is under a heavy load.

The result is an inadequate volume of gasoline and fuel pressure, which creates vapor lock inside the fuel system. A vapor lock occurs when the gasoline boils inside the fuel system and prevents the proper flow of fuel to the carburetor. It can stop a car dead. The reason the car recovered after 15 minutes is that the engine cooled and the vapor lock subsided.

Toyota has developed a new fuel pump that corrects the problem.

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