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Cirrus Maintenance and a Problem

Q. I own a '95 Cirrus. No serious maintenance work has been performed on it, only the oil, tires and battery have been changed. Its almost at 60,000 miles and I was wondering what you would recommend on getting replaced or looked at to get a longer, better life out of the car.

I also have one specific questions. Occasionally when driving, the car will not rev when the accelerator is pushed. The rpms stay at idle for a short time, maybe a few seconds, and then they will shoot up to 3 or 4. My thought is that either the PCV valve is broken, or the fuel filter is clogged. What do you think is happening.

Thanks for your time

A. One thing I always stress is maintenance. There is nothing that will keep a car running for many, trouble free, years like regular maintenance. Change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles and the engine will last forever. I have a 1987 Nissan Van with 187,000 miles and the old oil comes out almost as clean as it went in. The owners manual always has the regular maintenance schedule for your car. Most manufacturers recommend what is known as a major service. That includes:

  • Complete tune up with a new distributor cap, rotor and ignition wires.
  • Scope and scan engine.
  • Oil and filter change and complete front end lube.
  • Transmission fluid and filter change.
  • Tire balance and rotation.
  • Anti-freeze flush and refill
  • Brake service, including brake fluid flush, refill and bleed.

I always recommend replacing the timing belt every 60,000 miles. A timing belt stretches out over time and could break at the worst possible moment. As it stretches, the engine slowly goes out of time resulting in decreased engine performance and lower gas milage. This happens so slowly, you probably wouldn't notice it. If the timing belt breaks, the camshaft will stop turning in time with the engine while the crankshaft continues to turn for a short time until the engine dies. In that short period of time major engine damage could occur such as bent valves, broken valve guides or a broken camshaft.

There are two types of engines, one is an "Interference Engine". In an interference engine the valves and the piston occupy the same place in the cylinder at different times. If the timing belt breaks in an Interference Engine, major damage will occur. The other type is a "Non-Interference Engine". In this type of engine the valves and piston do not occupy the same place. Should the belt break in an Non-Interference Engine, a new timing belt is all that will be needed.

Bent valves will require removal of the cylinder head, and a few hundred dollars, to replace.

While you are changing the timing belt, this would be a good time to look closely at the water pump. There is a vent hole in the bottom of the impeller shaft. If there is any sign of anti-freeze tracks, then replace it. Of course you may wish to replace it anyway, especially if it is one of the harder ones to get to. Some applications require the removal of the water pump to replace the timing belt, if it needs replacing, now is the time to do it. There will be little, if any, labor cost involved and only the cost of the new pump.

Look at the engine drive belts. You may have 3 or 4 V-belts or one large serpentine belt. In either case look at them closely. If they have cracks, pieces missing or cords hanging out, replace them. They are good candidates for breaking and it seems like they always decide to break at the worst possible time.

At 60,000 miles a good technician will give the car a good, hard look for any abnormal wear. A complete service like this can run from $250.00 to $500.00 without the timing belt. Figure another $250.00 to $300.00 with the timing belt and water pump.

As far as the hesitation goes, chances are the 60,000 mile service or the timing belt replacement will cure this. Just be sure to note it when you bring the car in so they will know to look for it. Another possible cause is a dirty throttle chamber. Over time gunk builds up on the throttle plate and shaft and causes it to stick. In order to clean it you need to remove the large air hose leading in to it. If it's positioned right, you will be able to see the throttle plate. Using a can of spray carb cleaner with a "straw" attached to the nozzle, clean all around the plate where it meets the throttle chamber and spray around where the shaft goes through the chamber. Open the throttle and get as far behind it as you can. Let it air dry for a few minutes and reconnect the air intake hose. Start the car, and with all the cleaner in the intake it will act like it's flooded, and let it run at about 1500 to 2000 rpm for 2 or 3 minutes to clear out all the cleaner. This will help your hesitation problem

Keep up the maintenance and you'll have a long and pleasurable driving experience.

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Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2008 Vincent T. Ciulla

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