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I own a Toyota Camry that has never been any...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I own a 1991 Toyota Camry that has never been any trouble until lately. Whenever
the weather is humid or wet, the car won't start. At first it just stalled. But
now it cranks and won't start at all. I should note that I've made a number of
maintenance adjustments in the past year. I've put on a new timing belt, new
spark plugs and new spark plug wires. I fear I may have done something to break
the car in the process. Did I? -- Pete

RAY: I doubt it. This is one of those good news, bad news scenarios, Pete.

TOM: Yeah. The good news is that you didn't do anything to break the car. The
bad news is that it might be cheaper if it were something you HAD screwed up
yourself.

RAY: Based on the age of the car and my vast (or half-vast) experience, my guess
is that you have a bad coil in the distributor. The coil is bad, so the spark is
using the moisture as a conduit and is going directly to ground, instead of to
your spark plugs. And we've discovered that the best remedy for this is to
replace the whole distributor.

TOM: And a distributor for this car costs about $400, plus labor. You could just
replace the coil. But if the coil is bad, then other parts of the distributor
are probably going to fail soon, too. And by the time you've replaced them
individually, you'll spend more than 400 bucks on parts.

RAY: But it just wore out, Pete. Unless you dropped the old one or smashed it
with a hammer while you were under THE hood, you had nothing to do with this.

* * *

What's one secret of financial success? Driving a used car! Read How to Buy a
Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. You can order it by
sending $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Used Car,
PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

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