Mo­tor­mouth: Smack­ing the en­gine won’t fix that noise. For long, any­way.

The Day - - WHEELS - By BOB WE­BER — E.L., Al­len­town, Pa. — B.R., York­town, Va. — Anony­mous

Q: I have what you might call a clas­sic vin­tage car, a 1988 Lin­coln Town Car. When I was re­turn­ing from the store about a month ago, I heard a loud screech from the en­gine. I turned the key off, but it kept screech­ing. About a quar­ter mile later, the noise stopped. I had it towed to a shop where they re­placed the starter and so­le­noid and ev­ery­thing was fine for about two weeks, but the prob­lem came back. I opened the hood and smacked the so­le­noid with the han­dle of a screw­driver and the noise quit. Do you think the re­pair shop left the old so­le­noid in the car?

— J.G., Chicago

A: If the so­le­noid looks old and cruddy, yeah, they prob­a­bly didn’t change it. How­ever, even a new com­po­nent can be faulty. Give the shop a chance to make it good.

Q: We have a 1980 Lin­coln Mark VI. Ev­ery­thing checked out fine dur­ing a re­cent tune-up ex­cept that it blows black smoke. The me­chanic can’t find the prob­lem. Any ideas?

A: We don’t of­ten have an op­por­tu­nity to an­swer ques­tions about clas­sic cars, but two in a row and both Lin­colns? Wow. If mem­ory serves us, the en­gine in that car had a vari­able ven­turi car­bu­re­tor. That’s right, an old fash­ioned car­bu­re­tor. It needs at­ten­tion. Black smoke in­di­cates ex­ces­sive fuel be­ing in­com­pletely burned. By the way, blue smoke comes from oil, not gas.

Q: How do you clean an en­gine com­part­ment?

A: You could have it pro­fes­sion­ally steam cleaned, but if you want to save some money, clean it your­self. You will need an en­gine clean­ing prod­uct and there are plenty on the store shelves. Af­ter spray­ing it all around, and wait­ing the pre­scribed time, rinse it off with wa­ter. If you have a pres­sure washer, all the bet­ter. Just avoid any elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions. You don’t want wa­ter to get in­side them.

Q: Have a wed­ding and need to drive five fam­ily mem­bers and lug­gage 850 miles. Two are se­niors and I’m look­ing for com­fort for the 14-hour drive. Ob­vi­ously a mini­van will do, but when in 7-seat mode, the lug­gage space is of­ten small. Small SUVs seat five, but have lit­tle lug­gage space. Larger SUVs seem to be what I want but there are a lot of mod­els. Plus it seems the lug­gage space can be an is­sue if all three rows are used. I’m con­fused. So I thought per­haps you’d have an opin­ion on some “pre­mium SUV” or “large SUV” mod­els that would fit the need. Give me some­thing to use as a base­line to judge the of­fer­ing of the rental car com­pany.

A: We don’t do car re­views, but three SUVs come to mind: The Chevro­let Sub­ur­ban, Ford Ex­pe­di­tion (es­pe­cially the EL ver­sion) and Toy­ota Se­quoia. The stan­dard Sub­ur­ban seats eight. It also has about 40 cu­bic feet of cargo space. The seats in the Ex­pe­di­tion will ac­com­mo­date seven. The Se­quoia seats eight, seven with the sec­ond-row cap­tain’s chairs which may suit the el­ders. All have ad­e­quate lug­gage space un­less grandma in­sists on bring­ing her steamer trunk.

(Ed­i­tor’s note: I do car re­views, and if you don’t want a full-size SUV, the Chevy Ta­hoe and GMC Yukon are large; the largest mid­size SUVs with three rows are the new Chevy Tra­verse and Volk­swa­gen At­las.) ABOUT THE WRITER Bob We­ber is a writer and me­chanic who be­came an ASE-cer­ti­fied Mas­ter Au­to­mo­bile Tech­ni­cian in 1976. He main­tains this sta­tus by seek­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ev­ery five years. We­ber’s work ap­pears in pro­fes­sional trade mag­a­zines and other con­sumer pub­li­ca­tions. His writ­ing also ap­pears in au­to­mo­tive trade pub­li­ca­tions, Con­sumer Guide and Con­sumers Di­gest.

Send ques­tions along with name and town to Mo­tor­mouth, Rides, Chicago Tri­bune, 160 N. Stet­son Ave., Third Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 or mo­tor­mouth.tri­[email protected] com.

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