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.