June Newsletter
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GPD A/C Kits
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Stay cool this summer with GPD's complete A/C Compressor & Component Kits. These A/C Kits come with all the parts to do the job right at reliably low prices!

GPD A/C Compressors even come pre-filled with the correct amount and type of oil for most applications to ensure a hassle-free repair.

Find GPD A/C Compressor & Component Kits for your vehicle in the catalog under the "Heat & Air Conditioning" category. Click Info for a list of all components included in the kit and for tips, videos and other resources from GPD, including helpful tools to simplify installation.

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Repair Mistakes & Blunders
Repair Mistakes & Blunders

It was the early '70s when I graduated high school and joined the army. After receiving training as a helicopter crew chief, I was stationed in Fort Hood Texas. One day I was approached by member of our troop who wanted to know if I knew how to install an 8-track tape player. “I’m your man!” I replied, stating the fact that I had installed one in a friend’s car, that my army training included basic wiring and that my father was an auto mechanic. Impressed by my credentials, he handed me the unit and I got to work.

The installation was straightforward. I found the perfect location under the dash; centered on the console with plenty of clearance from the shifter. The wires were terminated with connectors giving that “professional” installation look. I believe start to finish time was around 30 minutes. Impressed by my work, he advised he would be giving it a test drive shortly.

He came back later that day holding a small box with what appeared to be black spaghetti coming out of it. It was his 8-track tape! He said when he inserted the tape, the unit made a strange noise. When he pulled it out, the tape was destroyed. Totally baffled, I rechecked the installation and everything appeared to be in order. I asked to see the vehicle owner’s manual and that is where I discovered my error. The car was an MGB coupe, mid '60s I believe. Did you know they are made in Britain? Did you know they drive on the wrong side of the road? And did you know that their cars have a positive ground? POSITIVE ground – really?! Up to that point in my life I had never heard of such a thing. I switched the wires around and fortunately the unit worked. No damage was done to the car or tape player, but my pride sure did take a beating!

Even though it has been almost 50 years, I can still see the expression on MGB owner's face as he held that 8-track tape in his hand!

Paul in Illinois

Tell us about your most infamous auto repair blunder or unconventional fix. Use your woe to help others avoid similar mistakes or share off-the-wall solutions that worked (at least for a while!). Please email your story to Include your mailing address and if you would like a RockAuto T-Shirt (please let us know your shirt size) or Hat if we publish your story. See the T-Shirts and Hats under Tools & Universal Parts in the RockAuto catalog. The story will be credited using only your first name and your vague geographic location (state, province, country, continent, etc.) so you can remain semi-anonymous!

Automotive Trivia
Automotive Trivia

What was the first year for the Buick Century and how did it get its name?

A. The 1936 Buick Century was so named because it could accelerate to 100 mph.

B. The 1974 Buick Century was so named to celebrate the upcoming (1976) bicentennial of the USA.

C. The 2003 Buick Century was so named to commemorate the founding of Buick in 1903.

Answer below

Mechanical and Electric Vacuum Pumps
Tom's Story

The familiar round Power Brake Booster canister on the firewall typically gets vacuum from a hose connected to the intake manifold. Diesel engines have long relied on an auxiliary Vacuum Pump because diesels do not have intake manifold vacuum. Gasoline engines now also often have a Vacuum Pump to generate consistent vacuum because modern turbocharger/supercharger systems may kick in and eliminate intake manifold vacuum at relatively low engine rpm.

Even without a turbocharger, new smaller displacement engines may generate less vacuum because small engines just draw in less air. To maintain normal brake pedal feel, hybrid powertrains and engine stop/start systems may also require vacuum pumps because the gasoline engine frequently turns off and on.

If a bad vacuum pump is failing to generate enough vacuum then the brake booster may not be able to provide sufficient assistance and the brake pedal will feel oddly hard to push. In addition to or instead of the brakes, a vacuum pump may generate the vacuum that powers turbocharger waste gates, heat & air conditioning vents, 4WD actuators, ignition timing advance and any other systems that use vacuum. A new vacuum pump can solve lots of seemingly unrelated problems. Use a Vacuum Tester rather than just a finger tip to verify there is sufficient vacuum (typically ~20 inch mercury, ~500 mm mercury) present at the vacuum pump's air inlet port.

Mechanical and Electric Vacuum Pumps
Mechanical (top) & Electric Vacuum Pumps

Modern gasoline engines usually have either a mechanical or an electric vacuum pump. A mechanical vacuum pump is often mounted on a cylinder head and driven by the end of a camshaft. Air driven out of the vacuum pump is frequently vented into the crankcase. Motor oil may start leaking into a mechanical vacuum pump as seals and moving pieces wear and wobble. The vacuum pump should be replaced if oil is detected in vacuum lines since oil can damage parts such as the diaphragm inside the power brake booster. Noises coming from a mechanical vacuum pump indicate it should be replaced immediately. A seized mechanical vacuum pump can break the timing chain, damage the camshaft and/or cause other costly problems. Mechanical vacuum pumps are often easy to access on the cylinder head and replace.

Electric vacuum pumps are increasingly common because they are the best match for hybrid and stop/start systems that regularly turn the engine completely off. Car manufacturers can mount electric vacuum pumps anywhere they like. (Find out what your specific vehicle's Vacuum Pump looks like by finding it under "Brake & Wheel Hub" in the catalog.) An electric vacuum pump may suddenly quit completely or indicate it is failing when the electric motor starts running hot and/or making unusual noises.

Who knows, this proliferation of electric vacuum pumps with simple two-wire electrical connections may even benefit owners of '60s Camaros, '70s Continentals and other classic cars with recalcitrant vacuum-powered accessories. Give those balky hidden headlight doors their own electric vacuum pump!

Tom Taylor,

To read more of Tom's articles, click this link and choose from story titles on the Newsletter Archives page.

Chris' 1970 Buick GS 455
Chris' 1970 Buick GS 455

Several years ago, my wife and I were entrusted to bring her parents' 1970 Buick GS 455 convertible back to life. The car was purchased by my wife's parents as a family car back in 1972 and was my mother-in-law's daily driver up until 1998. It was parked in a garage until we took it away one day, with a teary-eyed mom watching her car leave.

Living in central Pennsylvania the car suffered greatly from the ravages of salt and rust. But after eight months of nonstop work, we got the entire family together to reveal the Buick to my wife's parents. They had no idea why we were trying so hard to get them to come outside, but after several minutes of convincing, they finally did. The shocked looks of the in-laws was worth every penny spent on the restoration. Before long they were in the car with the top down taking a cruise just like the old times. They were young again.

We used RockAuto for body parts, fasteners, lights, hoses, belts, weather stripping, radiator, and I am sure lots more that I have lost track of.

Chris in Pennsylvania

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Automotive Trivia Answer
Automotive Trivia

What was the first year for the Buick Century and how did it get its name?

Answer: A. The 1936 Buick Century was so named because it could accelerate to 100 mph. (source:

Buick Century

B. The 1974 Buick Century was so named to celebrate the upcoming (1976) bicentennial of the USA.

C. The 2003 Buick Century was so named to commemorate the founding of Buick in 1903.

Back up to trivia question