Technical aspects of automobiles

Archive for February, 2010

Ignition Switch Removal

This is addressed to all the former car thieves and repo men on the net.

Does anyone know how to remove the ingition lock assembly (tumbler)
from an ’83 Honda Civic Ignition switch?

My son removed his faulty ignition switch and replaced it with
one from his parts car.  Trouble is, he now has two keys.

I tried the old "paper clip in the little hole" trick I used to use
on my old GM cars but that didn’t work.  The switch assembly has two
small holes located on opposite sides of the lock assembly, so I
assume they have something to do with the lock portion.   I usually
assume that, if something seems impossible to take apart, there’s
probably a trick to it.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

          Al Gonsalves


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Plug fouling


I have a 1981 Plymouth Reliant 1981 with 103K miles. Ever since I have it, it
has been badly fouling the plugs with black carbon deposits (not oil). This
evidently points to an overly rich fuel mixture. I changed the air filter and
put in new plugs with no effect.I have two theories about this problem
and I would like to seek the advice of the net.

a) A sticking/malfunctioning choke. However the car runs fine, except just
after starting, when it idles roughly and throws out a lot of black smoke/
carbon particles through the exhaust.

b) Bad regulation of the mixture/air ratio in the carb.

My specific questions are:

Would the car run fine when warmed up if it had a sticking choke?
How could I see if the choke is sticking? (I looked inside the
carb and saw nothing, BTW it is the 2.6 engine).

Should I mess around with the air/fuel mixture or can I screw up more than what
I can improve? Should I have it done at a mechanic? How should I check it?

Are there any other common causes for the symptoms described?

e-mail answers preferred, I can summarize if there is interest.
Thanks in advance.


|Jorge Pullin                              |  pul…   |
|Department of Physics, University of Utah |  pul…@utahcca.bitnet          |
|201 JFB, Salt Lake City, UT 84112 USA     |  Phone/Fax: (801) 581-5395/4801 |

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What is a dashpot for (in a VW BUG)?

I have a 73 VW bug and the "dashpot" (next to the carb) seems busted
(it doesn’t act springy at all).  I know that a dashpot provides some
type of damping, but does anyone know what this piece is specifically
for and what the symptoms are when it doesn’t work?

- Bill

Bill Schilit
Columbia University Computer Science Department

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Backpressure and the like.

There was a neat thread about mufflers and backpressure going on here for a
few messages, but it died before I could ask the following question….

        We pretty much know too much backpressure is bad, and some isn’t that
good either.  A little, fine.  So, if I wanted to swap mufflers on my 1.6 liter
car for a low-restriction (read : performance) muffler, what kind would be best
to get to avoid sounding like (to borrow another post’s words) a jet landing?



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hp ratings

I tried to post this before, but it didn’t seem to work…

What is the difference between hp and bhp, if any.  In addition, what are
the other ratings used in other countries (like kw, etc..)?

E.g. is 100bhp more or less power than 100hp?

Andrew Lavigne

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HELP! -> where's my blower resistor

        I have a 87 Camry, and I think my Blower resistor is
        faulty.  I have purchased a new blower resistor, but
        I couldn’t find where it’s located!!! ( checked in
        the shop’s manual )..
        Could anybody assist me the location of the Blower
        resistor on my car???????


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Jeep Commando suggestions please.


I bought a 72′ Jeep Commando with the I-6 232 motor.   The Jeep looks 20 years
old but it runs alright.  The steering is sloppy and the exhaust manifold has a
crack in it.  Since the previous maintenance history is unknown, I’d appreciate
suggestions as a list of "things to do" to prevent problems. (like change the

BTW, I thought I heard a bit of valve clatter but the exhaust leak made it
difficult to tell. I’ve read that this motor has no adjustments to the valves.
A friend told me if you stand in front of the motor, plug your ears with your
fingers and open your mouth like an ‘O’, the backround noise will be muffled
and you should hear the valve tapping.  I haven’t tried this yet, I think I’ll
do it a night when no one can see. :-O  


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87 Caravan & no heat


   My father has a 87 Dodge Caravan with basically no heat.  He has just changed   the thermostat and also the heater valve.  This van has pushbuttons for the
   different climate controls and we are thinking the problem may be related to
   this.  Also what about vacume(sp) lines.  I(we) would appreciate any help as
   to what may be the cause of this.  Also if it matters it is a 2.6liter engine   with around 80,000 mi. on it.

                                           Thank you

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GM Brakes

Hello all you brake experts!

I am looking for some advice on how to correct what I feel
is a design problem with GM rear brakes.

I own a 1983 Pontiac 6000 (purchased new) which exhibits dangerous
characteristics under normal to heavy braking.  A friend who owned an
’84 6000 also experienced the same problems.

Whenever moderate to heavy brake pressure is applied, at any speed, the
rear wheels lock.  On slippery roads, the slightest pedal pressure causes the
rear end of the car to "exit stage right", which is really hairy in
heavy traffic.  The only way to stop in a straight line is to shift into
neutral before hitting the brakes and then pump the pedal quickly.  I’d
rather not do this at 50mph with an automatic.

It does this whether the pads/shoes are new or old.  I recently turned
both drums and rotors – no change.  The car is on it’s third set of pads
and second set of shoes.  The struts and shocks were recently replaced
as well, but it did this before they were replaced.  It occured with
Goodyear Eagle GT’s and with the BFG Radial TA’s that are on the car now.

Another wierd symptom is, when creeping forward at idle speed, and when
the brakes are cold or damp, as the car come to a complete stop,
it……well….sort of……….squats.

Yeah, that’s the only way to describe it, like a dog taking a …….. .

The rear end of the car drops a few inches while the front stays at the
same level.  It makes me laugh every time it happens.  I have been able
to reduce this behavior by manually adjusting the rear brakes to keep
shoe travel to a minimum.  This fix only lasts for a few months.

Are there brake shoes available that will not grab as effectively as the
replacement pads I get from NAPA?

If this is a design problem, GM hasn’t gone out of their way to let me
know about it.  It sounds a lot like the problem they used to have with
their X-body cars.

Why isn’t the fix as simple as replacing the proportioning valve with
one that forces the front discs to do more of the braking?

If anyone has heard of a fix for this, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Oh no, It’s snowing……..

       Al Gonsalves

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Tires for 68 Camaro

I am trying to decide what kind of tires to buy for my 68 Camaro.  I have       decided between tire sizes of 225/60/14inch,235 or 245.  I would appreciate
advice on choosing between an H or R rating.  I will not be driving the car in
the winter and am leaning toward the H tire if it will make a large difference
in handling.  Possible tires I am looking at are Pirelli P6, Falken, & Michelin
all are H rated.  And for R rating B.F. T/A’s, Widetrack Radials(sold at Fleet
Farms), and Dunlop Qualifers.  Any other suggestions will be happily welcomed.


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