Dear Car Talk:
I have been working on my 1966 Chevy Nova II. I recently replaced the fuel pump (mechanical), all filters, all spark plugs and liquids. I’ve also tried tuning the idle speed and idle mixture screws on the carburetor.
Unfortunately, the car still stalls on occasion when trying to accelerate quickly or brake quickly. Could it be that the carburetor needs better tuning? Or perhaps it needs to be completely rebuilt and cleaned? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. – Peter
RAY: If you can find a new carburetor for this car, buy it, Peter. In fact, buy two, and save one for 2029 because it sounds like you have two carburetor problems.
If it’s stumbling or stalling on acceleration, that’s probably a bad accelerator pump. That would cause a lack of fuel when starting from a dead stop. And if it’s stalling when you brake hard, that could easily be a bad carburetor float, which becomes porous, gets submerged and causes flooding and stalling.
While you could take it apart and clean it and replace the accelerator pump and float, carburetors are notoriously finicky. It’s not only a lot of painstaking work with lots of small parts, but it might be one of those jobs where you have parts left over when you finish and have to wonder if they were important (Hint: they were).
It’s much easier to simply replace the carburetor, and I can pretty much guarantee that’ll solve both of your problems. You might be able to find a new, original Rochester carburetor for this car if you search online. They used to be a dime a dozen. If you have trouble finding one, or it’s too expensive, a professionally remanufactured carburetor would be almost as good.
And if you can’t find either of those, you can buy an aftermarket carburetor for this car from a company like Holley. That would probably require you to change the intake manifold as well.
So, depending on your level of mechanical skill, it might be something you want to have a mechanic do for you. Or, if you have enough surplus vacation days and Band-Aids, you can tackle it yourself. Good luck, Peter.
Pondering the life of my Prius’ battery
Dear Car Talk:
I bought a 2010 Toyota Prius last year. It is a great car, returning 45 to 50 mpg.
How long will the hybrid battery last? The previous owner said that it had the original hybrid battery. Thanks. – John
RAY: Well, Toyota warranties the hybrid battery for 8 years or 100,000 miles in most states. In California, due to state law, the warranty is 10 years or 150,000 miles. But that doesn't tell you how long the battery lasts in real life.
We don’t have a precise answer for you, John, but I can tell you that we’ve had a number of Priuses in the shop with over 250,000 miles on them, with the original battery still doing fine. And there are plenty of taxi and Lyft drivers that put hundreds of thousands of miles on Priuses without battery failure.
That doesn’t mean the battery will last forever. At some point, you’ll see that dreaded warning light. Then you’ll have to consider your options.
If you plan to keep the car for another 10 years or 200,000 miles, you can go to your Toyota dealer and have them put in a brand-new Toyota battery. The price keeps coming down on those, but it’s still an expensive repair. Expect it to cost you a good $3,000, including the credit you’ll get for your old battery.
Another option is to price out reconditioned, aftermarket batteries. They might cost you $1,000 to $1,500 less. But you should expect them not to last as long as the original Toyota batteries. If you’re only planning to keep the car a few more years, and you can get a good warranty with an aftermarket battery, it might be worth considering. Maybe.
Finally, our auto writer pal John Goreham from cartalk.com tells us that individual cells can be replaced. If one or more cells go bad, a mechanic trained in hybrid batteries can replace just that cell and then balance the battery and adjust all the voltages.
That’s a good solution if you have a single defective cell or two. But if you’ve got 200,000 miles on the car, it’s probably the beginning of the end for the battery anyway, and you could end up spending more on cells than if you had just bit the bullet and bought a new battery.
So, we can’t tell you exactly how long your battery will last, John. But just like with internal combustion engines, we do have expectations. For example, we would expect a Toyota Corolla engine to last at least 150,000 miles. Some fail sooner, many go much longer.
Given their track record, we now expect Prius batteries to last at least 150,000 to 200,000 miles. We hope yours lasts even longer. Many do.
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