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CAR TALK

Dear Tom and Ray: I recently did a rear brake job on my '94 Chevy Astro van. Now the self-adjuster on the left rear wheel over-adjusts the brake periodically and I have to get out and get under it and loosen it up. What did I do wrong?

-- Dave

Tom: Well, stealing the used parts from your neighbor's Astro van was probably your first mistake, Dave.

Ray: Actually, two possibilities come to mind. One is that you put the springs on wrong. The other is that you damaged one of the springs.

Tom: Start by taking both rear wheels off. Since the right rear adjuster is working fine, carefully compare the two. You may discover that you've switched the springs on the left side or attached a spring to the wrong hole.

Ray: If you don't notice any difference between the two wheels, the next thing to do is to replace all of the brake hardware on that left wheel. You can buy what's called a "combination kit" at your local auto parts store for about $20. That contains all of the springs and hardware for the brake assembly. And if you stretched or damaged a spring the first time around, that will almost certainly fix it.

Tom: And do it right away, Dave. If for any reason, you can't fix it yourself, take it to a mechanic and pay him to do it. Trust us on this; having one wheel lock up at high speed will not be an enjoyable experience.

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.

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