Fuel tank shield can be an important safeguard
QUESTION: I have a 2000 Mazda Protege with a 1.6L engine and the car is a complete rust bucket. Recently, part of the fuel tank shield rusted off and as a result it is now partially attached with the other part touching the ground. I was wondering how essential this part is and weather you would advise me to replace the shield or just go without the shield considering the age and condition of the car. John
Answer: There are a couple reasons manufacturers place shields around fuel tanks. One is to protect the fuel tank from the heat of a nearby exhaust pipe or muffler. Another reason is to protect fuel fittings and connections from stones, and the third is to protect the fuel tank itself from impact with gravel and other objects thrown up beneath the vehicle.
I understand you do not want to spend any money unnecessarily on your vehicle, but if the purpose of the shield is to protect the fuel tank from heat, then I would recommend fabricating a shield of some type. If the purpose of the shield is to protect the tank from gravel etc. then you could operate without it, especially if you are driving on pavement most of the time. Old cars in the ‘60s and earlier usually didn’t have any shields and the vehicles worked fine.
Q. I have a bizarre problem with my 1967 Pontiac Firebird, 400 CID, four-speed car. The other day I started the engine, pressed the clutch pedal, (my shifter is a little sloppy) so I usually run it through a couple of gears and reverse to wake it up, and usually everything is ok. Then for whatever reason I released the clutch pedal to do something else for a moment. Then I pressed the clutch down again to put it in reverse to back out of the garage, only to find out it would not go completely into reverse, as it would only grind. So I pulled it out of reverse and went to put it back in first, only to find out the whole shifter was completely inoperable. I couldn’t get it to go into any forward gear. So I tried reverse again and it still would only grind.
So now I’m thinking there must be something wrong in the clutch assembly, but I’m also thinking, why is my shifter screwed up? So I stopped the engine, pressed the clutch and the shifter immediately worked OK in all gears including reverse. I readjusted the clutch pedal and took all the free play out, but that didn’t seem to help. Because the shifter could be part of my problem, I took it all apart to tighten it up Now the shifter feels ok but my original problem is still exactly the same. The shifter gets screwed up and reverse won’t engage after the clutch is released and re-engaged the second time after restarting the engine? Is it possible there is something wrong in the transmission? Denis
A. The symptoms would indicate a clutch problem rather than anything wrong inside the transmission or with the shifter. It could be that the clutch disc is binding on the transmission input shaft but I would expect this to occur even the first time you start the vehicle so it would be difficult to shift at any time. Instead, I suspect you have a bad pilot bushing.
The pilot bushing (bearing in some vehicles) is pressed into the back of the crankshaft and supports the front end of the transmission input shaft. Normally the pilot bushing would allow the input shaft to rotate at different speeds than the crankshaft whenever the clutch is released, but if the bushing is bad, it can seize onto the transmission shaft and turn it even when the clutch is released. This would then make it difficult to engage any gear when the vehicle is not moving. Replacing the pilot bushing isn’t a difficult task but you do have to remove the transmission and clutch assembly to get at it. While replacing it, you can also check the clutch disc for wear to see if it needs replacing.
Q. I have a great 2008 Mazda3 but it left me stranded the other day. I was out in the countryside and had a flat tire. No problem — I know how to change a tire. Well, I got everything ready to change the flat and after I unbolted the wheel nuts, I couldn’t get the wheel off the car. I tried kicking it and banging it but it just wouldn’t budge. I had to call a tow truck and have the car towed to a garage. I have never had this happen before, but am wondering what to do to prevent it happening in the future.
A. The problem is caused by corrosion between the wheel and the centre of the axle hub on the car. The corrosion holds the wheel so tight it is difficult to remove. Manufacturers don’t recommend greasing wheel nuts, studs or contact surfaces where the wheel sits on the hub, but on some vehicles I have found a very light coating of antiseize just on the very centre opening of the wheel will prevent this corrosion and allow the wheel to be removed easier. Jim Kerr is a mechanic, instructor of automotive technology, freelance journalist and member of the Automobile Journalists’ Association of Canada.