They Don't Run Well

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

On the F250 from last week. About the catalytic converter, I don't have one. It's to old. I said this one was a poser. Next suggestion. It has been upgraded too, it starts right off, it idles great, give it a little gas and it misses so bad it will hardly move. This last came out of a clear blue sky yesterday morn 12/30/96. No reason, just did it.

Hmm, I thought that in 1974 an vehicles were required to have cats... maybe trucks got a reprieve for a few years... anyway, is your car supposed to take leaded fuel? Now that you are talking about miss fires, it sounds like it could be a timing issue. the issue being that is not advancing. To check, do these. 1) set base idle. okay 2) rev up the motor and see what you get (should be in the 30's) now disconnect the vacuum advance. should drop but still be high than base. if any one of these check did not work, then there is a problem in the distributor or in the vacuum system. and since you state that there is a definite problem at speed, let me take a guess here, does your carb have vacuum secondaries? if so, I bet they are not opening and that points to a vacuum problem.

Hi Bob,
I have an 1990 Chevy Astro Van. We are trying to decide if it is time to trade in. We don't like the idea of higher payments but we have several concerns. Hope you can help.

First, I just recently heard a newsclip of a woman who won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Chevrolet because the 90 Astrovans had a steering defect that they knew about and didn't fix. She was horribly injured. Do you know anything about this and how can I find out more?

Second, the first start of every day produces a cloud of white smoke. Is this cause for concern and what can be done about it?

And finally, the van has what my husband describes as a shimmy around 40 to 45 miles and hour. The time of day and weather does not seem to have an effect. The car has to be put into a hard overdrive to speed up and smooth out. It will not smoothly change gears at that speed. It also has a hard time on hills, no matter what the speed. I can have the cruise set at 70 on the interstate and as soon as we hit a hill the van slows down 5 to 10 miles an hour and then it kicks into overdrive to try to compensate. This seems very hard on the engine. Any ideas?

I have been pretty faithful about having the oil changed regularly - besides that, what sort of things need to be done on a regular basis to keep the van in good shape? And how long is it reasonable to expect it to keep running well? Is there a life limit or is it based on the care the vehicle receives? We currently have over 125,000 miles on the van and we love to travel. Any help or advice you have will be appreciated.

Well Jen,
At 125k seems to me like you got your money's worth! To answer your question and one that others have been asking, I personally think that this is a classic example of when to put that old beater to rest. They don't make cars like they used to, it is very rare to see a car hit 200k, but since you turned 100k, I think you did well. Now lets see, a 90 astrovan, I bet it has a 6 cylinder in it, and probably the 3.8l. In my experience with these, they just seem to quit after 100k... something about oiling problems... not your fault, the oil pump just gets tired and looses pressure. as far as the WHITE smoke, white is okay as long as you are sure it is white and not blue-ish. For everyone who wonders what the colors mean, here we go:

  • White is water vapor this is okay.

  • Blue is oil this is bad and sometimes costly

  • Black is incomplete combustion and the poor car is probably in dire need of a tune up!

Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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