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TIME TO SWITCH

Dear Tom and Ray: I have a '90 Acura Integra with 85,000 miles. For the greater part of seven years, the fan/blower has worked fine. Recently, it started not coming on right away. It takes from two to 10 minutes for it to start up in either heat or AC mode. My girlfriend has threatened to leave me for someone with more class if this problem is not resolved quickly. What should I do?
-- Ralph
Tom: This is an easy one, Ralph. I'd dump her.

Ray: Me too. If that's all it takes for her to threaten to leave, I don't think she's going to be a very reliable mate. I'd break it off now.

Tom: After that, you might want to replace the fan relay. That should take care of that other little problem.

Scanning the field

Dear Tom and Ray: My wife and I both have VWs. I am a do-it-yourselfer, and my car is a '93 VW Passat. The entire engine management system is the Bosch KE-Motronic (35 pin) with an ODB scanner port. Does anybody make a scanner for us weekend warriors? I have found a couple of sources for professional tools on the Internet, but I'm not prepared to spend $1,400 to $3,600 for an all-in-one Bosch-type scanner.
-- Bob
Tom: Ah yes, the old "Motronic" engine management system. VW opted for the Motronic because Peugeot and Renault had already claimed the Curly-tronic and the Larry-tronic.

Ray: Actually, there is no good, cheap scanner for this car that we know of, Bob. If you're going to invest in a scanner, I'd recommend getting one from Snap On or OTC that works for all cars -- and uses an adapter for your car. That way, a least you may be able to talk your neighbors into letting you scan their cars on the weekends and keep yourself busy that way.

Tom: But a real scanner is going to cost you $1,500 to $2,000, plus hundreds of bucks a year if you want to keep it up to date.

Ray: So I'd recommend that you take your car to a garage and have them scan it and print out the report. Then you can take the diagnostic report, go home and do the repairs yourself. I know that's not nearly as much fun, but maybe your wife will let you spend couple of hundred bucks and order those "build a jet aircraft engine out of kitchen utensils" plans that you've always wanted.

Write to Car Talk in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. Tom and Ray can't answer your letter personally but will run the best letters in the column. Their radio show airs at 6 and 10 a.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday on WBFO (88.7).

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