T Nation

Need Some Thoughts on Car Repairs...


Ok, I will admit up front, I am an overly-sentimental girl.

Here's the deal. I drive a 2000 Mercury Sable LS-premium. Bought the car new. I am very attached to the car, emotionally. It now has almost 216k miles on it. It is starting to have some mechanical problems. I know, I know...dump the car, it is only a thing. As I said, I am overly attached to the car. I drive a minimum of 110 miles a day to and from work, and she has always taken good care of me.

Four years ago we put in a new transmission and suspension. Last summer I put in a new radiator. It still runs strong, burns a little oil, but not a lot.

The power steering is starting to fail; the fluid occasionally boils over. No leaks that we can find. Probably either the power steering pump, or the rack. Pump I would be willing to repair, but the rack is a very pricey fix.

So what's the question?

The most annoying mechanical problem is the fuel tank. There is something wrong with it. When you go to pump the gas, you have to trickle it in or the pump kicks off. I have done a little research, and it seems that there might be a problem with a pressure gauge of some sort. This bites, especially when it is cold, because it takes FOREVER to fill the tank.

Any of you guys (or handy girls) have any experience with this sort of problem? I can't seem to get a good estimate from a mechanic, even having it in the shop, because they won't know what is wrong until the get in there. I think that simply replacing the tank is a relatively easy job, but don't know what is involved with the rest.

Logically, I know that eventually I will have to replace the car. Right now, I am trying to hold off until I can better afford it. I am still recovering financially from my husband's cancer treatments and his funeral, and my own medical bills last fall, plus an unexpected move in April.

I do have access to a decent auto repair database, but I am not mechanically inclined enough to have the right vocabulary for querying the thing. If I knew what I was looking for, the database will give pretty accurate assessments for times a job will take.

Sorry, more thinking outloud than anything...


It's funny how attached we get to our vehicles. I have a '93 K1500 blazer (like a 2-door Tahoe) and am seriously bucking the thought of having to get rid of it. I have nearly always had Chevy full-size vehicles.


I'm not an auto mechanic -- for what it's worth I am a certificated aircraft mechanic but haven't done it for more than 20 years -- but I would think your gas tank problem is simply one of the vent being clogged.

Perhaps if you could find something moderately flexible and narrow enough, you could try pushing it down the vent and clear it yourself. For example maybe the nylon cord sold for weed whackers. But you might well have something already on hand.


In this case, my late husband bought the car, and was so pleased with it and the deal he got on it. Part of me balks at buying a car by myself....silly, I know.


In those circumstances, I'd likely hang on until it was rotting in the back yard. It's not silly at all.


"Try turning the nozzle 90-120 degrees off of vertical when you fill it. (In other words, rotate the pump nozzle so the handle doesn't point directly toward the ground) I know a few people who have this problem, and sometimes that works for them. You have to experiment to find out what position works best.

And throw some Lucas in to the PS reservoir. It's worth taking a gamble on the $12 to see if it fixes the boil over problem."


There most likely is nothing wrong with the tank. There are alot of parts that hang off the tank with today's emissions there is what is called a Canister, Solenoid, and a fuel tank pressure sensor. One of these will be the problem I would say it is probably the pressure sensor but could be the Canister since that is where the vapor goes and if its clogged up the vapor will stay in the tank.

As for your steering try changing out the fluid first and see what happens old fluid will not do will with heat most problems with pumps or racks you will hear a noise when you are turning the wheel.