About two weeks later, it had to be towed for the second time. This time, they put another distributor in it. I picked it up on a Monday and the following Saturday it wouldn't start. I let it sit for a while, and it finally fired up.
If you could help me by telling me what you think it is, I would be very thankful. That way, when I take the car back, I'll at least have some information to give them.
Answer: Your engine is recurrently running short on fuel or spark, and the question is which, and what's causing it.
Pat Cassidy, service manager at Magarity Ford in Chestnut Hill, says the first question on the troubleshooting checklist is this: Did you have an aftermarket alarm system installed on this car? If you had such a non-Ford system put in, he thinks that could be causing an electronic malfunction.
If you don't have an aftermarket alarm, a problem like yours is tough for the dealer to diagnose if it doesn't happen when the car is in the shop. But, Cassidy adds, it is possible that the malfunction tripped a code in the computer and thus left its footprint at the crime scene. So, have your dealer check the codes if he hasn't already.
Q: I own a 1993 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue that I purchased new. I've been having a problem with it for the past two years, and repeated trips to dealers have done no good. The problem is this: At 65 to 67 miles an hour, the steering and the car itself start shaking. If I drop below 65, it stops. Efforts to fix it included a couple of alignments and new tires.
A: According to a technician at Golden Chrysler Plymouth Jeep Eagle in Roxborough, the prime suspects are worn tie-rod ends, constant-velocity joints, or ball joints. Have these suspension and drivetrain components checked by a good mechanic.
Q: I'm considering buying an old Porsche 944 as a second car. What do you think of them?
A: I have a much higher opinion of them than many Porsche purists, who seem to think any modern Porsche but a 911 is an exercise in fraud and sedition. In fact, the 944 is handsome, lively, and a good everyday driver, and the price is right. You can pick up a very clean, 1987 rendition of this sporting coupe for less than $10,000.
Q: If I put snow tires on my 1994 Honda Accord this fall, can I get away with just putting them on the front wheels?
A: Your car will be safer and better handling if you put them on all four wheels. Having four identical tires on your vehicle is almost always a good rule to follow. The only exception I can think of is a handful of rear-drive, high-performance sports cars designed to use wider tires in the back.
Send your automotive question to Al Haas, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101.