Where do we begin to look for the source in our leaky Chevette?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

My son purchased a 1979 Chevette for $150 from a friend at school. The body is in fair shape and so is the interior. The motor is another story. We discovered a water leak in the area of the fuel pump. It is difficult to determine exactly where the leak originates, but it is a major leak. Any suggestions?

RAY: Well Jeff, although it has never been given its due credit, the engine in this car happens to be one of the engineering marvels of the 20th century.

TOM: That's right. Through a masterpiece of technical engineering, every important component on this car is crammed onto the driver's side of the engine. There you'll find the distributor, the starter motor, the coil, the steering column, the carburetor...and buried among those pieces is also the fuel pump. So it's no wonder you're having a tough time figuring out where the leak is coming from.

RAY: To find the leak, you're going to have to take it to a mechanic and have him do a pressure test. While the engine's cooling system is under pressure, he can look around with a light and a flexible mirror. That's the only way to see a leak in this engine, because with everything so crammed together, you'll never get your head up there (although my brother has managed a few times).

TOM: If you are extremely lucky, and have led a good, clean life, it will turn out to be something minor like a bad hose. But if the mechanic tells you that it's a head gasket, then you'll know why the car only cost $150.

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