Dear Tom,

I have a '91 Chevy Lumina with about 95,000 miles. Twice last summer and once last week it stalled while driving. I took it to my mechanic who didn't find anything wrong with it. What could cause the stalling? Do you have any suggestions? I hate to spend a lot of money throwing parts at the problem. I would appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks.
Mark in MN


I understand your concern about replacing unnecessary parts. Diagnosing symptoms that are intermittent is a difficult undertaking. I wonder if your problem may be the result of poor maintenance. Have you had the vehicle maintained over the years, according to the manufacturer's specifications? If not, the problem could be as simple as worn sparkplugs/wires, or a dirty air filter, or a dirty fuel filter. Replace them. Many vehicle problems like the one you are experiencing are often the result of poor maintenance. Proper maintenance is NEVER a waste of money! I can't emphasize enough the value of keeping your vehicle in top running condition.

If you have been maintaining the car, than have the computer scanned to see if there are any trouble codes. If no codes are found and the problem still exists, you could have a flight test done. During a flight test, a handheld computer scanner is hooked up to the vehicle's performance system. The technician is able to monitor the data stream while the vehicle is being driven. Sometimes a driveability problem cannot be detected without a flight test. I wish you success!

Dear Tom,

The tail lights don't work on my 1988 Nissan Maxima (all the other lights work). I need to know the location of the fuse for these lights. The fuse panel box located to the left on the lower dash does not include a fuse for the tail lights. Could you please tell me if it's an in-line fuse somewhere that controls these lights? Thank you very much.
Ann from Ventura, CA


Fuse # 5 in your fuse panel is for the tail light circuit. If the front marker lights are working as you say, than the fuse is fine because this fuse supplies power to both the front and the rear marker (tail) lights. Assuming the fuse is good, then you probably have a wiring problem affecting the rear circuit. The problem could be caused by a bad electrical connector, or a broken wire, or a bad tail light socket. I would contact your local auto electrical shop to have them check it out for you. This should be a fairly easy problem to track down.

Dear Tom,

I recently bought an old dune buggy with a VW engine. The engine is rusted solid and it won't turn. I was wondering if there is anything I could do to get it running?
Chris from Garland, TX


A lot of penetrating oil, emery cloth, and patience (and a whole lot of luck wouldn't hurt). Worse case scenario? Replace the engine. I'm sure there are a lot of old VW Beetles in their final resting place (junkyards) in Garland TX!

Dear Tom,

I have an electrical draw problem on a '66 Mustang I am restoring. Is there a test I can perform to locate the problem? I think it comes from the horn switch, which was "Mickey Moused" by the previous owner. Thanks.
Bob from Stoughton, MA


Disconnect the negative battery post. Then hook a voltmeter between the post and battery cable. If there's an electrical draw, it will show up on the meter. You want no more than 0.5 voltage. Start eliminating each circuit by removing fuses and unplugging the alternator, starter, etc. until you find the electrical draw. Good Luck!

Dear Tom,

I have a 1998 Buick LeSabre 3.8L with 44,000 miles. Sudden acceleration from a full stop causes loud and violent vibrations. This response is worse if the wheels are angled slightly (as in trying to enter an adjacent lane). As soon as I let up on the accelerator, it stops. Other than this problem, the car handles well. What could be causing the problem? Could it be that a CV joint has failed on one of the drive axles? How dangerous is this situation? Should it be repaired ASAP? And approximately how costly will it be to repair?
Denis from Memphis, TN


It sounds like you have a CV joint problem, although it's unusual to have this type of problem with such low mileage. If the joint is bad, the proper way to repair is to replace the complete axle assembly. The job will probably cost between $280 and $350, including parts and labor (at an independent repair facility). Repair as soon as possible because it could cause damage to the transmission. The best to you.

Dear Tom,

What is your opinion of the manufacturer's 5W20 oil requirement? How about in Florida in summer heat? Will it protect as well as a 5W30?
Joe from Birmingham, AL


Carmakers recommend 5W20 because of the tight engine tolerances used in late model engines. To achieve low emissions and high output, carmakers utilize much tighter bearing/piston/ring-to-cylinder tolerances. Introduce heavier oil into this equation and you have inadequate lubrication and thus premature engine wear. My opinion? Use 5W20 oil when recommended by the manufacturer.

Dear Tom,

I need to 'set' the car radio in my 1996 Chevy Lumina. This car was willed to me and the radio does not work because of an anti theft device. What should I do?
Debbie from West Bend, IN


You must get the code from the radio manufacturer. This might require removal of the radio so you can find out the manufacturer, serial number, and model number. Call the manufacturer and give them this information so they can retrieve the code.

'Til next time ... Keep Rollin'

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