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CAR’S SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL HAS OWNER SINGING BLUES

SHARE CAR’S SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL HAS OWNER SINGING BLUES

Question - My 1991 Camry must have been built by Jerry Lee Lewis, since it sure has a "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On" when I sit in traffic or at a red light. Using the air conditioner really aggravates the vibration. My mechanic is a Patsy Cline fan, since he tried to give me "Sweet Dreams" by turning up the idle. This helped somewhat, but the car would then get up to 25 mph without stepping on the gas pedal! The dealer likes Patsy, too, since he said my mechanic was "Crazy." He said cars the age of mine all vibrate (so much so that my purse on the passenger seat does the "Shake, Rattle, and Roll"). The car vibrates less when I put it in Neutral or Park while waiting in traffic.

I guess you could say I'm an Everly Brothers fan, since all I do is "Dream" about my car running smoothly again. Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! I need Tom and Ray NOW! - Janice

RAY: What an inspired letter, Janice. It's letters like this that make us wish we had inspired answers!

TOM: Actually, we'll have you singing "Danke Shoen" to us in no time, Janice.

RAY: All four-cylinder Camrys shake in Drive at idle. It's a characteristic of the car. It has to do with several things, most notably the stiffness and damping abilities of the motor mounts (the large rubber bushings that hold the motor in place).

TOM: Some of these Camrys shake enough to make you think you're what the Allman Brothers referred to as a "Rambler Man."

RAY: That's "Ramblin' Man," you knucklehead, not "Rambler Man."

TOM: Anyway, since your shaking has gotten worse lately, and your car feels like it's singing "I Fall to Pieces," my guess is that one of your motor mounts has gotten weak or broken. And rather than replace it with an old-style, 1991 motor mount, you should ask your dealer to install a "vibration kit," which includes softer, more energy-absorbent motor mounts used on Camrys made after January 1994.

RAY: If he says "whadda ya tawkin' about, lady?" just refer him to Toyota Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) EG-94-002. He'll be so pleased you know more about this than he does, that he'll almost certainly walk away singing "Ain't She Sweet."

TOM: That may not make it perfect, but it should help a lot, Janice. At least, as the Beatles say, you'll have to admit "It's Getting Better." Good luck, Janice.

Question - What kind of trouble will I have if I don't fix the CV boot on my Plymouth Voyager? The outside boot has torn and left the joint exposed. I'm in a bit of a financial fix right now, but I should have about $300 coming in in a couple of months. Can I leave it for now? - Bill

TOM: You're in great shape, Bill. In a couple of months, you'll have $300, which is enough to replace the CV boot and the CV joint. And that's probably what you're going to have to do at that point.

RAY: Here's why. The boot costs about $100 to replace. But after you've driven around with it torn open, and lots of dirt and grit have gotten in there, the CV joint itself will be ruined - or well on its way to being ruined.

RAY: It's kind of like a toothache, Bill. You can bite the bullet and get the cavity filled right now. Or you can have a root canal at your convenience.

TOM: But what are you going to do? If you don't have the money, you don't have the money. I think you're just going to have to wait it out and spend the $300 later on.

RAY: Right. We'd send you to our cousin, Louie the Loanshark, to borrow 100 bucks. But that'll cost you $300 in a couple of months, too!

TOM: 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.