Question - I have an '87 Nissan Stanza with about 65,000 miles on it. It has been a wonderful car and I've taken good care of it. Recently I went in for new tires, and the Goodyear store took me for a ride. After I spent $200, they tried to talk me into spending a similar amount on a new timing belt. I told my regular mechanic about it, and he agreed with Goodyear that it should be done.
After going through my owner's manual, I found nothing about replacing the timing belt.What do you recommend I do? - Nancy
TOM: We agree with the Goodyear guy and your mechanic. So now you have not only a second opinion, but third and fourth opinions, too.
RAY: We called Nissan to find out if there is any reference to a timing-belt change in the '87 Stanza owner's manual. After searching through piles of reading material in every rest room on every floor of the Nissan headquarters building, they finally turned up an old Stanza manual. And you're right, there is no mention of it.
TOM: And that's an oversight, because Nissan does recommend changing the belt. Nissan tell its dealers to inspect the timing belt on the car at 60,000 miles and replace it at 105,000 miles. But we think that's not soon enough.
RAY: Right. A broken timing belt on an '87 Stanza would crush the car's valves and could ruin the engine. A broken timing belt won't ruin every engine, but it ruined yours. You're better off safe than sorry. So I recommend you change your timing belt at 60,000 miles - which, according to my calculations, was approximately 5,000 miles ago.
RAY: It probably will cost you a couple of hundred dollars to get a new belt installed. But if the belt breaks, you'd need to spend a couple of thousand on a new engine. So bite the bullet and do it, Nancy.
Question - As the proud owner of a '57 Chevy pickup, I have utilized and appreciated your technical prowess and humor. Your efforts have helped me, and obviously countless others, deal with the love-hate relationships that are inevitable in motor vehicle ownership. A problem has arisen, through no fault of your own. My local newspaper has started running your column in the weekly Food section, and whenever I read it now, I get hungry. Is there anything you can do? - Harry
RAY: Harry, we were just about to toss your silly little letter into the garbage can. But then we realized that it presents us with a great opportunity to print one of the most tasteless attempts at humor anyone has sent us in weeks!
TOM: And I'm sure that printing it - a "menu" from the so-called Road Kill Cafe - will succeed in suppressing your appetite.
RAY: We should warn all of our sophisticated readers that the following is in poor taste.
TOM: If you are reading this over breakfast, you may want to skip right now to some more-appetizing section of today's newspaper, like "Answers About Acne."
RAY: OK, Harry. According to the menu that one of our alert readers sent us, the Road Kill Cafe serves up Slab of Lab, Shar-Pei Fillet and Poodles With Noodles.
TOM: Rounding out the canine portion of the menu, they've also got German Shepherd's Pie and the ever-popular Collie Hit by a Trolley.
RAY: In terms of wild game, you've got your Smear of Deer, your Smidgen of Pigeon, your Road Toad a la Mode and your perfectly aged Rigor Mortis Tortoise.
TOM: And, if you haven't lost your appetite by now, Harry, why not go for my personal favorite, Chicken that Didn't Cross the Road?!