Tale of Kia’s swim with the Swedish fish

Dear Car Talk: So, hello, I am from Sweden. Please forgive English.

Have now had Kia Sportage two years. Car was old four years when bought, so production 2016. Has approximately 35,000 km, so basically new car, with mechanical hand brake, not electric.

It was stay parked like two months maybe 5 km from the sea, not driving.

First day after that, I drive 30 min to the port, and I need to wait ferry, so stop in line. I was first car, it is almost flat ground, little bit downhill direction to the dock, but almost not possible to see slope naked eye.

I lifted hand brake, possibly not all to the end, but lifted. I repeat it is almost flat ground. I take some stuff and go out walking opposite direction. After few moment, car start rolling and end up to the sea.

Question: Is there any technical possibility maybe because car was park two months near sea, that wind, salty water, moisture, rusty discs or something got into brakes, so when I pull hand brake, it did not catch all the way, maybe catch some rusty part and not enough, and car start rolling?

After that, car was 40 minutes in the sea water. After they pull it out, hand brake was on, and after driving car for 30 days, have tested and it is working normally. Can you explain why hand brake failed to stop car from going in sea? Thanks. — Daniel

Daniel: no need to apologize for your English. I understood the story well enough to get a good laugh at your Kia going plop into the ocean. Based on that, I think you’ll easily pass the U.S. citizenship test.

Here’s the most likely explanation. Your car sat for two months near the ocean, in salty air. It probably sat with the hand brake off or lightly applied during this time.

That salty air, combined with disuse, caused your parking brake cable to rust and seize up. So, the cables were, essentially, stuck to its sheath.

When you pulled on the hand brake, you felt resistance. But since the cables were seized, they weren’t actually engaging the brake on the rear wheels. And if you then left the car in Neutral at the ferry dock, it would have been free to roll. That was the plop you heard as you walked the other way.

Why is it working properly now? Well, it could just be that applying the brake and releasing it a number of times freed up the cables. Or maybe one of those oil-rig leaks in the Baltic Sea helped lubricate it. I don’t know.

But, if the hand brake was applied when the car was dragged out of the ocean, then either the brake was applied so lightly that it wasn’t enough to keep the car from rolling, or, more likely, the hand brake cables had seized from the salt air.

So, in the future, Daniel: 1. Use your hand brake regularly to keep it from seizing. 2. Park with the car in First Gear or Reverse, in addition to using the hand brake. 3. Always be the second one in line at the ferry. That way, if all else fails, you’ll just bang into the car in front of you -- and he’ll go plop into the ocean.

Dear Car Talk: I have enjoyed your column for years and actually learned a lot and saved myself money in the process many times.

Now, though, I have an issue of my own that I hope you can help me with. I have a 2001 Ford Ranger with 150,000 miles. Five weeks ago, the fuel pump started leaking, and the repair shop replaced it and the accompanying lock ring. They told me the pump and the lock ring were both broken (cracked).

Three weeks later, it started leaking again, and they said the pump was cracked again. They installed a new one for nothing but said if it happens again, we will have to figure out what is causing it. They mentioned shocks and struts and something about bed mounts.

The truck does not bounce around or rattle any more than any old pickup and certainly no more than when I acquired it five years ago.

Do you have any suggestions for what I should be looking for? Thanks. — Gordon

Gordon: How about a new truck, Gordon?

This is a strange one. It sounds like your mechanic suspects that your truck is getting slammed around to such an extent that it’s cracking your fuel pump — which is suspended inside the fuel tank. That’s why he mentioned bed mounts — the mounts that hold the bed to the frame.

That feels like a long shot to me. It’d have to be running on Fred Flintstone wheels to bang around hard enough to crack the fuel pump. And if it was riding that hard, it’d probably crack a bunch of other stuff, too, like your teeth.

So, I think the mechanic-to-English translation here was: If this happens again, don’t come back, ‘cause I have no idea what’s wrong.

I see two possibilities here, Gordon. One is that your mechanic accidentally mangled the rubber gasket that goes between the pump and the flange on top of the metal tank when he installed that first pump. A bad gasket could be what caused that second leak.

If that’s the case, he’s already replaced it — presumably correctly — and it may never trouble you again. That would be the best-case scenario.

If the problem does return, then I suspect the problem is the tank. There’s a flange welded to the top of the tank that the pump and the lock ring connect to, and that may be damaged. In fact, that may have been the cause of your original leak.

So, if the problem returns, the next thing I would do is replace the fuel tank itself, which costs about $200. And if that doesn’t work, re-read the first line of my answer, Gordon. Good luck.

Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.

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