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Old 11-06-2015, 11:00 PM   #1
timbo59
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common problems that would knock out a car and are easy to fix

Hi there,
Sorry for this odd question, but I need some technical help for a book I'm writing set in the Australian outback. I'm next to useless when it comes to what's under the bonnet of a car other than the basics, so I need some guidance. You find a lot of abandoned vehicles in the outback, and I've been told that they've often been left behind with simple fixes to get them running again. I'm trying to kind of play around with this scenario in the book, set in the 80's, such as finding one abandoned car, determining what the fix is and repairing it there and then, or finding the necessary part in another similar car found in the area. Could someone clue me up on some simple things that could disable older cars yet be easily repairable? I keep thinking of the distributor, as it would be easy to slot a replacement in place from another similar model, but off the top of my head I don't really recall them as being a part that often go bad. I thought of a loose lead, but then a car will keep running even if it's lost a cylinder, right?
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Old 11-07-2015, 10:14 AM   #2
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Re: common problems that would knock out a car and are easy to fix

A bad coil wire or a bad coil would be something that would disable a car, be relatively easy to transfer from one car to another, and can easily be overlooked by someone who's not all that familiar with the ignition system of the car they are driving.

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Old 11-07-2015, 02:40 PM   #3
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Re: common problems that would knock out a car and are easy to fix

Is that something that could easily go out, and something you could pick up fairly quickly as the cause of the problem if you popped the hood and knew your way round a car? Are coils specific to makes and models, or easily interchangeable - just want to be sure I get my facts right with my writing.

I vaguely think I had a problem with a coil once years ago, now that you mention it, but it was so long ago I can't remember the circumstances.

Thanks.
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Old 11-08-2015, 10:51 PM   #4
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Re: common problems that would knock out a car and are easy to fix

It's not extremely common for a coil to go out, but it does happen. Someone in the know would check for fuel and spark when a car fails to start. Checking for spark is easy, pull a plug wire or coil wire and hold it near a grounded part of the engine, then look for spark when cranking the engine over. If you get spark, you know that's not the issue. If you don't get spark, there would be a reasonably good chance the issue is the coil wire or the coil. In the 70's and early 80's ignition coils would have been pretty close to universal. If you were to go the route of a bad coil wire, that increases the chances of "universal" quite a bit.

-Rod

Last edited by shorod; 11-09-2015 at 06:35 AM. Reason: Corrected typo - "changes" should have been "chances"
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Old 11-08-2015, 11:20 PM   #5
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Re: common problems that would knock out a car and are easy to fix

Thanks Rod, that's absolutely perfect. I think I'll definitely use that scenario. Makes it easy to work the story round it.
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