Piston Slap: HVAC Heartaches Beset Panther Love?

Peter writes:

I got a case of Panther Love and bought a nice 89 Town car. It’s a lower mileage (62k) girl, one that has been taken care of. I DD it.

I have been busy fixing everything that breaks on it. Previous owners just didn’t use her much, and so a wide variety of stuff just goes out. Window regulators. Alternator, battery, alignment, tires…… the list goes in and on. Every week something happens. That’s ok, and I expected as much. The engine, body, interior and tranny all seem good-superb.

It has of course an automatic temp control HVAC system, and and already I have been chasing numerous gremlins. Started with needing a new heater control valve as the floor setting never worked for the heater. That was an easy fix. But now it seems she has vacuum leaks under the dash or in places my good mechanics can’t find under the hood. Leaks that cause the system to do weird stuff, like sending all the air to the defroster under acceleration, and or switching from Heat to ac and back just for a moment. They have run all sorts of vacuum tests under the hood and can’t find the problem.

My questions is this: I have very good vintage car mechanics, but they charge 140/hour and it adds up quickly. And they are not HVAC specialists. They will gladly troubleshoot if I let them. Pull the dash and start poking around. That’s the next step.

Is there not a better way? Does an Ford (or any manufacturer) Vintage HVAC mechanic exist somewhere, someone who already knows the system? Seems to me that the experience curve might be mighty handy here. Something like a Lincoln doctor who is board certified in HVAC. That would be too cool. I can dream, no?

Or should I just stick with the guys I have and hope for the best while paying the man. I live in the Washington DC metro area. I am obviously not capable of doing this myself.

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  • John I had an 87 escort GT that was silver, it was a fun little car and got 35+ mpg average, one time I got 42 average on a turnpike trip.
  • Jho65697139 That's going to take a lot of buffing.
  • Corey Lewis No need for unique qualifications to care for this thing, it's just a Corolla with a different body on it.
  • Jeff S How's you Fiat doing?
  • Syke Had the exact same car, only difference is that the trim was the JDM bB rather than the American xB. Enjoyed the car immensely, originally bought it because it was excellent for transporting my then-invalid wife and her wheelchair around. Best thing about it? I also owned a Porsche 924S at the same time. I could go from the Porsche to the Scion and not feel disappointed by the difference in the way they drove.