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Ralph Vartabedian

Question: I find it increasingly difficult to shift into reverse on my 1991 Toyota Camry. The manual transmission just seems to get stuck and won't go into the reverse position; it goes into first without any problem. The dealer said the transmission needs to be pulled out and rebuilt. But I'm wondering if there's another option. The car is otherwise in good shape with 110,000 miles on it, but I don't want to sink more than $1,000 into an 8-year-old car. --J.E.
October 6, 2008 | Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano, Times Staff Writers
John McCain was training in his AD-6 Skyraider on an overcast Texas morning in 1960 when he slammed into Corpus Christi Bay and sheared the skin off his plane's wings. McCain recounted the accident decades later in his autobiography. "The engine quit while I was practicing landings," he wrote. But an investigation board at the Naval Aviation Safety Center found no evidence of engine failure.
July 11, 2008 | Richard A. Serrano and Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writers
Outside her Bel-Air home, Nancy Reagan stood arm in arm with John McCain and offered a significant -- but less than exuberant -- endorsement. "Ronnie and I always waited until everything was decided, and then we endorsed," the Republican matriarch said in March. "Well, obviously this is the nominee of the party." They were the only words she would speak during the five-minute photo op. In a written statement, she described McCain as "a good friend for over 30 years."
November 13, 2009 | Ralph Vartabedian
A sea of ancient water tainted by the Cold War is creeping deep under the volcanic peaks, dry lake beds and pinyon pine forests covering a vast tract of Nevada. Over 41 years, the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads underground at the Nevada Test Site, 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Each explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and, in some cases, directly into aquifers. When testing ended in 1992, the Energy Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation had been left behind, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the nation.
October 31, 2007 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
Question: I am looking to the L.A. Times for help in trying to find out what is causing the orange/yellowish spots that are appearing on our cars in increasing numbers. I have lived here for 24 years and have owned white cars for all of that time. In the past four or five years I have noticed dark orange/yellow droppings on my car, about the size of a pencil eraser. Within the last two years they have increased in number. Once dried, it is very difficult to get them off.
Question: I have a squeak in my car's front end that is driving me crazy. It occurs whenever I turn the steering wheel--but it disappears when it rains. I have had the steering and suspension checked out, and the mechanic could not find loose parts. He said the squeak is coming from a rubber bushing. Is there a way to lubricate this thing? --J.M. Answer: You can lubricate a squeaky bushing, but you need to be careful about the lubricant you use.
Conventional wisdom about broken glass and other kinds of hazards encountered on the road abounds. The sight of smashed glass on the highway prompts most motorists to swerve to avoid damaging their tires. Potholes are generally viewed as obstacles, sort of a test of one's driving skills. Rubbing a tire against the curb is considered unfortunately clumsy, but nothing to worry about. Such thinking is correct in some cases and entirely wrong in others.
May 30, 1985 | RALPH VARTABEDIAN, Times Staff Writer
Question: I recently bought a 1977 Ford LTD. I put the car in park on a steep hill and had trouble releasing the transmission shifter. A couple of weeks later, a grinding noise started. I eventually had to have the transmission rebuilt. Shortly after that, the grinding started again. What is the problem?--M.R.M. Answer: Any time you park a car with an automatic transmission on a steep hill or incline, you are running a risk of transmission damage if you don't exercise a lot of care.
January 2, 1991
Editor: Linda Darnell Williams News Editor: Steven Seiler Artist: Michael Hall Reporters: Jane Applegate Bob Baker James Bates Michael Cieply Alan Citron Bob Dallos Tom Furlong James S. Granelli Amy Harmon Bruce Horovitz Kathy M. Kristof Marie L. La Ganga Carla Lazzareschi Patrick Lee Robert Rosenblatt Stuart Silverstein Ralph Vartabedian George White
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