- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Doctor: I own a 1965 Pontiac GTO 389 cid. I had the engine rebuilt, and it now has 3,000 miles on it. After driving the car for half an hour or more and then shutting it off, the hot engine does not restart for about 15-20 minutes. The engine cranks very slowly. I have replaced both the starter and battery. When the engine is cold, it turns over fast and starts right up. What is my next step? Gary

Dear Gary: Both battery and starter have to be in good condition. If the rebuilt engine tolerances are too tight, then this condition you describe of a starting fault will occur. And if the ignition timing is too far advanced, then a hard crank condition will also occur. There are a lot of possibilities to consider.

Let’s take a look at the easy items. Go back and recheck the condition of the base ignition timing, battery cable and proper gauge cables. Make sure the battery has 1,000 cold cranking amps and a good high-performance starter motor, not a cheap rebuilt. Companies such as Summit and Jegs sell new - not rebuilt - high-performance starters and kits to relocate the starter solenoid power supply. These companies also sell new 100-plus amp alternators that will replace the old factory 37-amp alternator.

Dear Doctor: I own a 2002 Ford Escape with 103,000 miles. I have always used full-synthetic oil, and now wonder if I should continue, or change to a synthetic blend? I looked for high-mileage full-synthetic, but the store did not carry it. Dennis

Dear Dennis: I am an advocate of full-synthetic oil and use it on all my vehicles and yard equipment (even against some manufacturer’s recommendations). Some oil companies do make high-mileage full-synthetic oil. I would recommend you use the full-synthetic high-mileage if you can find it in your area.

Dear Doctor: I read your column faithfully, and learn a lot from the answers, even if the vehicles discussed are not identical to mine. I own a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara with 16,000 miles on it. I took it to a local, national lube chain, which did an oil change and replaced my oil with Mobil 1’s synthetic oil without my authorization ($30 more). Am I stuck for the life of the Grand Vitara with synthetic oil, or, can I go back to regular oil on my next oil change? Will synthetic hurt the engine this early in its life? RJ

Dear RJ: I get this question often. You can change from full to synthetic blend or back to regular petroleum oil at any time and/or add either to the engine at any time. There will not be any damage to the engine.

Dear Doctor: I own a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix. When going up a hill under light acceleration, there is a bucking, like a misfire. I can make the miss go away by stepping down on the gas pedal. I went to the dealer, and they checked for fault codes and said there were none.

They said a possible full-engine tune-up would be needed, and may fix the miss problem. I spent just over $1,000 for the tune-up, but still have the problem. The dealer now said it could be a transmission problem. The cost of the transmission overhaul is $2,300 with no guarantee this would fix the problem. What should I do? Stu

Dear Stu: The first step is to have the technician hook up a fuel-pressure gauge and professional scan tool and take the car up an incline and observe fuel pressure and all scan-tool information. When an engine is under a light load with part throttle, fuel trim is lean, the EGR valve may be partly open and any ignition or fuel problem will be noticed. It could be dirty fuel injectors, ignition module, or transmission torque converter. This is why a road test with a professional scan tool is needed that will show and record actual road-tested recorded data.Dear Doctor: My wife and I leased a Buick LaCrosse with the front-row bench seat, cloth interior and the column shift. We are considering another Buick if we can find one with cloth seats and another column shift, but are concerned about GM going bankrupt. SY

Dear SY: The interest in the old column shift has diminished over the years. The problem I see with the floor shift is the loss of seating for three people up front. There still are a few models with both cloth and column shifts. I would not be concerned about purchasing a GM vehicle, particularly a Buick.

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail questions to [email protected]

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