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The Yankee Express

August 27-September 24, 2021

Q.
I have a 1974 Chevy Camaro that I have owned the last 43 years it has been sitting in a garage idle the last 15 years. What are your thoughts on it?

A.
The 1974 Chevrolet Camaro is not the most collectable Camaro. Even the most collectible 1974 Z-28 was underpowered compared to other vehicles of the time. Someone I know had had almost the same car that sat for just about the same time, and because of sentimental value decided to restore it. Every rubber seal needed replacement, the engine and transmission needed rebuilding, there were rusted out floors and the car needed a complete repaint. All of the brake system as well as steering and suspension parts needed replacement. Plus, the interior was moldy and needed more than cleaning. When it was done it came out great, but realistically the cost of restoration was twice the value of the car. Because he had the money, and it was his high school car he thought it was worth it. To me he is going to need to keep it another 40 years to see any return on his investment. At this point I would have it towed to a restoration shop and have them evaluate the entire car and give you an idea (and it will only be an idea - there is always hidden damage/rust/mechanical issues) of what it will cost. 

Q.
I have a new Mercedes Benz E63 AMG and recently I lent the car to my brother. When he returned it, he had it washed and filled the gas tank. After driving the car for a few days, it started to run rough, and the check engine light came on. The dealer told me it was because my brother used regular not premium 93 octane fuel. The dealer needed to clean out the fuel system and replace all the fuel injectors (at my cost). I don’t blame my brother, but can just one tank of 87 octane fuel cause this much damage?

A.
It is important to use premium fuel in cars that require it, but one tank full is not going to cause a problem. Here is what is stated in the AMG owner’s manual: as a temporary measure, if the recommended fuel is not available, you may also use unleaded regular gasoline. I believe the issue was not the wrong gas but contaminated gas. I would go talk with the gas station where your brother filled up. The contamination would not be just your car, I’m sure there are others.
 
Q.
I have been hearing about the new small truck from Ford, the Maverick. What do you know of it and what do you think? Is it really “Ford Tough?”

A.
I have always been a fan of true compact trucks, and I think there is a market for a somewhat basic truck that can handle day-to-day driving, is easy to park, can handle trips to the home improvement center and is not outrageously expensive. The Maverick is front-wheel-drive (all-wheel-drive is optional), with a fuel-efficient hybrid engine all for about $20,000. Regarding “Ford-tough” time will tell but Ford is confident this latest Maverick will not disappoint truck fans.  I was able to look at a very early production Maverick recently and based on what I saw, Ford will sell as many as they can make. 

Q.
We have a 2001 Toyota Corolla with 170,000 miles on it and some minor rust and some city dents, and only one speaker for the radio and only AM works. Other than that, it’s a perfect car for me since I like the way it drives. The check engine light has been on for over a year and the car won’t pass inspection next January. Do you think it’s worth it to have that fixed or should we just donate the car? If we can get the check engine light off, any thoughts about the radio?  

A.
I would certainly get an idea of what the problem is. At 20 years old and 170,000 miles, the car could be at the end of its life. Since the car runs well it is possible the issue is with the evaporative emissions system.  This is very common for the Corolla that the purge valve fails. When that system has an issue, the engine will run fine, but the check engine light will be on. Now, of course, this is just one possibility. At this point I would want to get a diagnostic check of the car as well as an overall evaluation. If the car looks like it is safe and can be repaired for $500 or so it may be money well spent. As far as the radio goes, mount a Bluetooth speaker and listen to music from your phone - it is the cheapest alternative to a new radio and speakers.