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I have a Buick Century with a four-cylinder -liter engine...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I have a 1986 Buick Century with a four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine and
130,000 miles. On occasion, when I attempt to accelerate on the open road
when in fourth gear (overdrive), the speed will not go above 50 mph. It
seems like depressing the accelerator just makes the engine labor. If I
stomp on the gas, it seems to shift briefly into second gear, then third,
and then will pass 50, eventually shifting back to fourth. Even normal
acceleration in this car is sluggish with this four-cylinder engine. Any
suggestions? -- Bob

RAY: Well, cutting off the back half of the car may improve your
acceleration, Bob.

TOM: My guess is that your engine is worn out. This was not a great engine
to begin with (it is essentially the same engine General Motors has been
using since the 1960s). And with 130,000 miles on it, this thing probably
has barely enough compression to get out of its own way. And certainly not
enough to accelerate in fourth gear.

RAY: So, if you can stomach some bad news, you should go ahead and get a
compression test. But be prepared for the worst, Bob. Your choices will
probably be a replacement engine from a junkyard (oops, I mean an
automotive recycling center) or a complete engine rebuild. Neither of which
is cheap.

TOM: Of course, that, in turn, will raise some deep philosophical questions
like: Should I spend a thousand bucks on this heap?

RAY: So if you're not prepared for all of the ramifications of a
compression test, just keep driving and stay off the interstate. That'll
work, at least for a while, Bob.
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