Email Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org Search our entire Ask Smithy archive at carsguide.com.au
Q I TOOK my 1996 dual-fuel Mitsubishi Pajero wagon to a mechanic to fix a misfire. It was there for two days and had platinum plugs and leads fitted. I was charged $137 for the plugs and $127 for the leads, and then $225 on top of that for labour. Is this excessive for the work carried out on my vehicle?
Tony Snow, Port Macquarie, NSW The cost of the plugs and leads is about right, and the labour charge is about right for three hours’ work. If all he did was fit the plugs and leads, it’s expensive, but if he investigated the cause of the misfire beyond simply fitting those parts, the labour charge is probably about right as well.
Q I’D LIKE to convert my 1994 six-cylinder Ford Fairmont ED Auto to dual-fuel LPG, but I’ve heard that there are different types of systems that you can use. Which do you recommend?
Steve Crouch, email An air-valve system that works much like a carburettor was the system that would have been used back in the 1990s when your car was built and that would be the cheapest system to use if cost is your priority. These systems were fitted to millions of cars over many years and performed well. Injection systems are the alternative and these drive and perform better than the old air valve ones, but they’re quite a bit more expensive. I would choose an injection system for the performance and driveability, but go for the air valve if you want a more affordable system.
Q THREE months ago I had to replace a cracked radiator in my 1994 V6 Toyota Camry. We found that the water was dark brown and there was sediment 2cm thick in the reservoir. My mechanic told me to flush the system with clean water every week until no more dirt was coming out and then put in coolant and leave it. Two weeks later I began to have problems starting the engine. It was running roughly a lot of steam was coming out of the exhaust. This time the mechanic told me to flush the water and put Chemiweld on for two weeks without coolant, then flush it out and replace it with fresh coolant. Now the engine is not running roughly and there is less steam, but the water is still dirty and forms a sediment.
Pantelis Natis, email I’d say you have an engine problem, perhaps a cracked head. Chemiweld is mostly used for a temporary repair to seal a crack in the cooling system without tearing the engine down and doing a proper fix. It has worked to some degree in that the engine is no longer running roughly and less steam is coming from the exhaust, but the problem still appears to be there. Pull the engine down and find the real cause.
Q SOMETIMES I can hear a violent clunk coming from under the rear of my BF Falcon MK2 SR when the auto transmission kicks down at around 90km/h. It’s as though the trans is snapping back to second with no give, and winding up the driveline all the way back to the diff. I cannot reproduce it for the dealer, because it only does it after it’s been running for a while and when you overtake. Any ideas?
Murray Cox, email It’s something we’ve heard about before. It was debatable whether it was the transmission or the diff, and Ford
Cost: Did I pay too much to fix a Mitsubishi Pajero misfire problem?