Time to trade in that lurching Ford Tempo.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive an '85 Ford Tempo (it's not funny!). For the past year, it has had the most annoying lurching problem. I have had a new clutch installed, but it made no difference. Is it the clutch? What else could cause lurching? I have had so much bad luck with this Tempo. Please give me some good news about my car for once!

RAY: Well, Stephanie, first we have to get our terminology straight. You say the car is "lurching." We looked up lurching in the AMD (the Auto Motive Dictionary), and this is what we found: Lurch: noun. A slow, repetitive hesitation that can last as long as a second or two. e.g. "lurch... pause... lurch... pause... lurch... pause." See also: Addams Family.

TOM: Then there's "chattering," which is what my brother does all day while he's supposed to be working. Actually, "chattering" is a much faster type of hesitation. If your car were chattering, you would feel the jerky movements several times per second, rather than once every couple of seconds. It would be more like a quick "bububububububububu."

RAY: If the car were chattering, my guess is that a new clutch would have fixed it. And since the new clutch made no difference, your car probably IS lurching.

TOM: That's what she said, you knucklehead. And that would suggest that the problem is in the engine. And there are lots things in the engine that can cause lurching. One of them is incorrect engine timing; timing that's either too advanced or too retarded.

RAY: Another possibility is that your Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve is faulty. If the EGR valve is working intermittently, you can get a condition known as "trailer hitching."

TOM: Trailer hitching is exactly what it sounds like. It feels as though you're trying to pull a heavy trailer, but keep getting yanked back because of the slack in the trailer hitch.

RAY: So what's the good news, Stephanie? I'd say it's the age of your car. Once you fix the lurching, I'd say you're completely justified in trading this baby in.

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