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RE: Ack! Questions about pro maintenance...

Ben wrote:

	>Anyway, he replaced the battery.  It 
	>was down to half its normal fluid level.  He claims that this
kind of 
	>problem could not happen over a short timespan without making
	>cabin stink to high heaven.  Why didn't Reitmeir's catch this
	>on their numerous battery checks?

There's a vent hose that should be connected to the nipple at the
battery - if it is, the fluid could have leaked through it without
stinking too much. On some maintenance-free batteries it's actually
impossible to check the fluid level (black case, no removable caps, no
inspection window). However, very low fluid level results it severely
reduced battery capacity and starting current - these problems should've
been revealed by a competent workshop.

	>He reported that the brake fluid was "black", although
	>claimed that they replaced it recently, and there doesn't seem
to be a 
	>Could the 
	>brake fluid he put in be _meant_ to be black?

All brake fluids that I've seen in my life were either clear or green...
never heard about black one.

	>George called my attention to the fact that if the timing belt
is in 
	>the shape that the other belts are in, I could be in big
trouble (is 
	>this really a turbo interference engine?  He said it is).  I
don't see 
	>any timing belt replacement in the service records (after
	>miles) but I could have missed something.  I sure hope so!

If the belt has 126k miles on it you are in _big_, _big_ trouble. It's
fairly easy to remove upper timing belt cover to inspect the condition
of the belt.

	>The fuel pump is making quite a loud whine.  George said that
	>probably OK for now (it's been replaced once).  His assertion
is that 
	>the fuel pump can die if you just let it suck on air for a
short while 
	>(running the tank empty, or even running on a quarter tank if
you go 
	>over really steep hills, because the fuel can slosh away from
	>intake).  Is this really true?  It seems inconceivable that
	>could design something so ridiculous as a car that
self-destructs if 
	>it runs out of gas.

The electric fuel pump is both lubricated and cooled by fuel, so it can
be damaged if run dry. This precaution applies to all fuel-injected cars
using Bosch-like fuel pumps ( for example, Renault 21 owner's manual
says that driving the car with the fuel gauge needle in read area can
lead to damage ). I don't find it ridiculous - just never allow the car
to run out of fuel and you'll be fine. You could as well complain that
the car breaks if it runs out of oil.

Aleksander Mierzwa
Warsaw, Poland
87 Audi 5000CS turbo (mine)
88 Renault Medallion wagon (mom's)
91 mountain bike (just in case both cars broke at the same time :-)