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Bugged by a flat spot

Asked by Brian Folwell

I own a 1994 KH model Ford Laser, fitted with a carburettor-fed, 1.6-litre, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. I bought the car second-hand and a drive around the block didn't show up any performance deficiencies. But after driving it for several weeks, there is a noticeably wide flat spot when the car has changed into second gear, and acceleration is extremely slow to the point of frustration. Admittedly I don't drive the car hard, but it is faultlessly maintained and mechanically sound. I was wondering if you would know if it is feasible to fit a four-speed auto transmission from a 1.8-litre KH model Laser into my car, taking into account the gearbox mounting points, and mating it to the engine? I was hoping that perhaps an additional cog, and a better spread of ratios might overcome the engine's lack of grunt. The only other option I can think of is some form of engine modification.

Answered by CarsGuide

7 Aug 2003 Carsguide.com.au

While the 1.6-litre engine isn't a ball of fire, and you're weighing it down further with the auto, it should still be perky enough so that it isn't frustrating. Have a mechanic check it over to make sure it is tuned correctly. And check fuel and air filters for any blockage that might rob your car of power. Also have the compression checked to make sure it hasn't lost some of its zip there. It's possible to modify the engine to get more power out of it, but the costs would be hard to justify on a 1994 Laser. If you can't find a cause, think about replacing it with a car that can deliver the performance you want.

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