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Hi, all. Last weekend, I replaced the plugs, distributor rotor, distributor cap and air filter, as well as cleaned the IAC valve and throttle body, added Techron concentrate and topped off fluids, in an effort to (hopefully) alleviate an intermittent engine surging/bucking/stalling problem. Well, I didn't do a lot of driving this past week, but did notice a marked improvement in performance after the tune-up with what driving I did do.

HOWEVER, yesterday I drove to my brother's house in Fort Worth (roughly 50 miles round-trip) for assistance with replacing my fuel filter, and my "coolant low" light came on en route. I let the car cool for about an hour, checked the coolant level and added about 1/3 gallon before I noticed white splash spots on the lower radiator hose. So, I'm thinking, "Aha! Here is the culprit." Well, I replaced the lower radiator hose and added two gallons of coolant and checked for leaks. Well, by the time I got home (@ 25 miles), the reservoir was almost empty of coolant -- which might be normal when one considers the amount of coolant that goes into the engine -- but there were no signs of leakage.

This afternoon, I make a trip to O'Reilly's for R134 so I can recharge my A/C, topped off the gas tank, and picked up something to eat -- probably five miles driving roiund-trip. While stoipped at a traffic signal, the engine appeared to lunge forward for just a moment. Once I made my left turn onto a straightaway, it did it again. I was probably doing about 35/40 mph. Well, I open the hood when I get home to add coolant, and I notice some oily-looking fluid on the little ledge underneath the lower radiator hose. Also, the hose looked a little bulbous to me. So I'm thinking, "crap -- I have a leak afterall." Also noticed what appears to be coolant dripping (literally a small drip) from a location almost 1-1/2 feet to the rear of the lower radiator hose, underneath the engine. I'm now waiting for the engine to sufficiently cool so I can try and adjust the hose I replaced yesterday, praying that this is the source of the problem.

Second, my A/C is only blowing HOT air. I purchased a recharging thing called "Measure and Charge R134a Refrigerant and Oil." I am assuming that the little valve sticking out between the radiator and battery is where I check the pressure and recharge? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. It was 82 degrees here today, and we're only at the beginning of April. If recharging doesn't do the trick, is repairing the AC a DIY job, or something better left to an expert?

Finally, if the tune-up did not resolve the engine surge/buck/stall problem, and it is not related to the lower radiator hose issue, any suggestions as to my next place to look? I didn't replace the fuel filter because once I got under the car, I took a look at the fuel (?) lines attached to the filter and became terrified that I would screw something up. You know, that "small little voice" that says "danger?"

Anyhow, any guidance would be greatly appreciated. I could not have done what repairs I have done already without the help of the members of this board.

Thanks,

Francine
 

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Hey Francine- tough break with the stumbling still being there. I'll give you some details on the fuel filter procedure, it really isn't as scary as it looks (except for the gasonline being there). First you start with the fuel system depressurisation: Open the fusebox that is on the driver's end of the dash. Pull fuse 32 (make sure I'm quoting the right fuse number by checking that sheet of fuse listings on the access panel. #32 should be listed as "fuel pump" or something like that. Next, turn the ignition key and crank the engine. If it starts and runs, allow it to idle until it stops through fuel starvation. This should not take more than a few seconds. Try to start it two more times to ensure that all pressure has been relieved. Now we move onto the filter: Since you know where it is located, great. I've actually found I can managed to do this without the car jacked up, so whatever you're comfortable with, get it set. Have a suitable container ready to catch the dripping fluid. Safety goggles may be advisable. Rags are handy to have around too. If I recall correctly, I had no spray when I did the job, just dripped out of filter. Ok, now onto the procedure: Pull the plastic guard from the fuel filter if fitted and clean the filter around the inlet and outlet unions. Loosen the screw that holds the filter in place. TAKE NOTE OF WHICH DIRECTION THE ARROW ON THE FILTER POINTS (the filter thats still on the car that is). Then remove the banjo bolt that holds the fuel lines to the filter using a wrench on the filter (you can see its set up like the head of a bolt) and then another wrench on the banjo bolt. Once you have those undone let the fuel drip down into the container. Undo the remainder of the screw on the mounting bracket and pull the old filter out. Note: when the filter comes down and out of the car, it will still have some fuel in it. Now install is reverse of removal: Fit the new washers on the banjo bolts, get the filter up into the bracket (arrow pointing in the same direction as old filter) and secure it lightly, tighten the banjo bolts up tight (I see no torque specs in the Haynes), but I did mine up tight. Once the bolts are tight, tighten the mounting bracket and make sure the fuel filter is securely in position. You're done. Start the car up (will take a few more cranks than normal to get it running given that the system has to repressurize).



Any major AC work is a dicey area to DIY. I'm quite uncomfortable with doing any majoring service to it. Now, simply recharging the system I would have no trouble with. First thing for you to try is checking the observation window on the condensor to see if their is any refridgerant in the system. This can be achieved by removing the car's front grille. To do that, open the hood and look at the top of the grille, you'll see two metal/plastic clips protruding from the top of the grille. Squeeze those in and *CAREFULLY* pull the grille upward (have not forgotten about last week's plenum experience ;) ). Once that is off and you're looking from in front of the car, you'll see mostly radiator, except for this cylinder thing with pipes coming off of it (on the battery side of the car), that is the condenser. If you look directly on top of it you will see a little glass window-remember that spot. Now start the car up, turn on the ventilation system and engage the AC. Now go back and look through that little window. Within a minute you should see that it has changed color (if you have refridgerant in the system), maybe even be able to see it flowing by. But now you have an indication of whether or not there is fluid moving through the system. Once that is know, put the grille back on the front end (a little tricky, two plastic supports that you need to catch the bottom of the grille with. Takes me two or three tries each time I put the grille back on to get the two (one on each side), then its just a matter of getting the two clips to go back through the top of the grille and make sure they snap into the holding position. If the system was empty and you saw no change at the window, you'll need to most likely refill the whole system. I think you can buy a whole kit for doing that job, but I might leave that to a professional to do. The kit usually includes 3 bottles of R-134a, 1 bottle of lubricating oil, a pressure guage, and the valve/piping to put the bottles of refridgerant and lubricant into the system. Did the AC stuff you bought include a pressure guage? Because if you do have some refridgerant in the system, then you need to know what pressure it is at, that way you don't overfill it with what you bought. The spot that you put the stuff in is that 8" or so piece of pipe that sticks up between the radiator and battery that you asked in your post, but the pressure guage might get connected elsewhere (might being the optimal word), consult the directions that come with refridgerant you bought. I hope at least some of this makes sense.
 

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Thanks so much, Slaab! Your instructions for replacing the fuel filter are very clear -- I think I'll go ahead and give it a go. I hope this is what's causing the problem, as I can't think of anything else. Hopefully, I can get it done in the next couple of days. I guess I just have a phobia about working with fuel. Thanks again for your help.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hey, Slaab -- just saw your edit regarding the AC (I"m a Deadwood junkie). Anyhow, the kit I bought included the hose and gauge. The gauge indicated that my refrigerant was low, so I added some until it told me (by a color indicator) that I had enough. Maybe I'm impatient, but I noticed no difference yet in the air coming out of the vents -- still hot. So, I think I'll check the two ACC fuses to see if they're blown. Don't know if this would affect the air temp, but I guess it's work checking (blown fuse was the problem with my cigarette lighter). Beyond that, I might have to prepare to dish out some bucks to an AC specialist. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can CAREFULLY (LOL!) locate the window behind the grille. I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again!
 

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Make sure your compressor is running. You'll want to look at the compressor and double check that the clutch is engaging. The compressor has a clutch on it that actually engages it and disengages it. The pulley will always spin, regardless of the state the compressor is in. What you need to look for, is if the compressor is actually engaged or not. Look to the center section of the pulley and you will see three bolts spaced evenly. These will be the part that spins once the compressor clutch is engaged. Sometimes a fuse will blow and cause the compressor to not engage. Sometimes pressure will be too high, or too low and cause the hi/low limit switch to trip and not allow the compressor to engage. The clutch portion of the compressor is very simple. You should be able to see one wire coming out of the top of the comp. If you place +12 volts on this wire the compresser should engage if the hi/low limit switch is not tripped. You can test out the compressor by putting =12 volts to it with the engine running or not. You should be able to see it engage, and hear it click.

Good luck!

Tboy
 
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