I totally agree, Rob. But then, in the mid-70's car design took a cynical nosedive when the auto manufacturers tried to brute-force, edge around, or cheat the new emissions standards. It went far beyond the engine. A co-worker rented a Ford Granada with 2,000 miles on it. He opened the door to climb in—and the door fell off the hinges! I rented a Mustang II and wondered why I was passing everything on the freeway when the speedometer said I was only going 45 mph. I realized that somehow the wheel size had probably been changed and the speedometer calibration had never been synchronized. Finally, Ford assumed that if the wheels were turning and the hood was raised, the car was likely being tested by CARB for new car emissions certification. CARB found the switch under the hood that changed the engine's programming from tiger to pussycat.
Wow, that sounds dangerous, StuDent. I'm a bit surprised that a fuel filter would go out at 20,000. If it's going to fail at 23,000 you'd think they would recommend replacement a bit early to avoid putting drivers in such a precarious position.
In the mid-70's I had a rental Ford. While driving on the freeway, the engine would randomly die. Throwing it into neutral, I'd turn the ignition key and the engine would start right up. The fellow I was driving with asked me how many miles were on the odometer. I said 23,000. He said, "That's the problem. They forgot to change the fuel filter at 20,000 miles. The fuel filter on these models is inadequate and starts clogging at 20,000." We checked when we returned the car, and indeed, they had not changed the fuel filter.
William, did automakers back then tend to implement similar design solutions? Were these industry-wide problems. Or did the automakers work in individual silos? Has that changed with automakers these days?
In one of your comments you mentioned "....those little Fords....". Correction- The 1961 Ford Fairlane was a full-sized vehicle model of its era. There was a whole series based on the same platform, starting w/ the low-end Fairlane, and progressing to the more appointed GALAXIE 500. Back in those days, FORD, as well as the other major manufacturers were only beginning to respond to the increased popularity of imports" with their own versions of compact cars. In 1960, FORD had the FALCON, Chevrolet had the CHEVY II, Plymouth had the VALIANT. Later on Dodge had the DART, Buick had the SPECIAL, Oldsmobile had the F85, Pontiac had the TEMPEST. It wasn't until the 1964 model when Chevrolet introduced the CHEVELLE (MALIBU) that they became a 3-platform industry.
I had a 1960 FORD FAIRLANE. One Sunday we decided to take a ride w/ the new car. So, we set out w/o any problems. After arriving at our destination, and eating dinner "on the road", we decided to return home. While driving, we were forced onto an unpaved section of roadway due to construction. When we motored over this, the tailpipe became separated from the muffler, causing it to drop, and creating an instant "hot rod". Much to our dismay, a local gas station had a mechanic on duty, but he could not repair it since the tailpipe proved to be several inches too short, with no possibility of stretching it to fit. We wound up driving about 100 miles home w/ the muffler in the trunk. Needless to say, it was a very noisy ride home. The dealer eventually was able to replace the pipe w/ a longer one, and we were reimbursed for the mechanic's bill since it was an obvious manufacturing defect.
The problem of the failing inition system could not have been from a neutral safety switch, since that function switches the cranking motor circuit off when the selector is not in neutral or park. Of course it is also likely that the switch had an additional set of contacts that were intended to bypass the ballast resistor during cranking, since the cranking motor will draw the battery voltage down quite a bit. Some poorly designed systems may have had a transfer switch instead of one to simply bypass the ballast resistor. That would have gone along with the very poor choice of having a resistor wire in the harness to serve as the coil dropping resistor. The problem was that the resistor would fail and be difficult to diagnose, and impossible to repair.
At one time a number of auto manufacturers did have the entire ignition switch assembly mounted down on the steering column, which I think was a poor choice. There have been some recalls due to vehicle fires caused by switches in that location.
I've never run across a neutral safety switch that interupted the ignition circuit.
The neutral safety switch is there to prevent running the starter motor with the engine in gear and thus ruining the stater or flywheel. The safety switch is in series with the starter relay (solenoid on GM cars).
As to the engine stalling problem, I would suspect 1 of two causes:
The coil ballast resistor.
Ignition coils well into the 60's were 6 or 8 volt coils and would draw too much current if connected directly to 12 volts. There was usually a ballast resistor on the firewall to drop the voltage and limit the current. Odds are that the resistor was cracked and moisture would seep in and cause an intermittant.
Cars also used to have a ground strap that ran from the engine to the firewall or chassis. If the ground becomes intermittant, the same symptom of the engine stalling would happen.
For the 70's vintage Plymouth, Chrysler made a big deal of their new electronic ignition systems. However, after a few years the potting on the module would crack and water would seep in causing the same type of intermittant operation. As the epoxy potting was on the firewall side of the ignition module, most mechanics never noticed that it had failed.
Interesting Mdefonce. I hadn't heard about shifting quickly from drive to park as a way to make the car start. I did find out in those days that you could jump-start a car with an automatic transmission if you could get it going fast enough down a hill. You slammed it into drive from neutral. You had to get it going faster than you would with a standard transmission.
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