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When is it a good idea to swap cars with your mechanic?

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I own a 1982 Volkswagen Quantum. It now has 120,000 miles on it and has been a very reliable car. Since it was a year or two old, the car has had difficulty starting whenever the outside temperature is less than 25 degrees Fahrenheit. My mechanic installed an engine block heater which helps considerably, but if I forget to plug it in, the car barely catches. I have a new battery, and a tune up makes no difference.
Joe
East Lansing, Michigan

TOM: I've never studied Quantum mechanics, but I would have to guess that the problem is with either the cold start injector or the warm up regulator.

RAY: The cold start injector is a fifth fuel injector which sprays for a few seconds to get the car started. The warm up regulator alters the pressure to the fuel injectors when the engine is cold in order to richen the fuel/air mixture. Both of these could cause the symptoms you describe.

TOM: More importantly, you have to leave the car with your mechanic. I'll bet you haven't left it with him for longer than a work-day, right? Trade cars with him and have him take your car home for a week. Let him figure out how to get to work when it won't start on a cold morning. He'll either get tired of walking to work and fix it, or he'll fall in love with it and buy you a new car. Either way, you won't have to trudge out and plug in your car every night next winter.

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