Diesel Smell
I like big, lifted custom trucks like Ford F-350 4x4 crew cabs and similar trucks. I've always driven gas-powered trucks, but lately several of my friends have been buying new diesel rigs. We all have ski boats, so the added torque, towing power, and fuel economy of a diesel is very appealing. What isn't appealing to me is the smell of diesel. You don't smell it much when you're driving down the road, but when I've helped friends fuel up, my hands stink forever. Why does the smell of diesel fuel linger so long? If I spill some gas on my hands, the gas smell goes away relatively quickly. I've noticed that diesel pumps at the gas station tend to be dirty and slimy. Is there a logical explanation to this stinky situation? I'd really like to buy a diesel truck for the power and the added fuel economy, but what can be done to avoid getting that diesel stink on my hands?
Brad Storch
via e-mail

If they still had full service gas stations, we'd consider buying a new diesel truck, too. The new diesels from Ford and GM (along with greatly improved six-speed automatic transmissions) are a far cry from previously noisy diesels. The basic reason why diesel pumps are so messy and why the smell lingers on your hands has to do with the higher evaporation/ignition point for diesel versus gasoline. Gas is very volatile and evaporates quickly. Diesel needs noticeably hotter conditions to evaporate and burn. That's a reason why diesel engines have such high compression ratios. Diesel fuel just doesn't evaporate as quickly as gas, which is why it lingers on your fingers. We've tried pumping diesel with gloves on, but unless they're disposable, the smell will just linger on the gloves. Your best bet is to buy a box of those heavy-duty blue vinyl medical gloves. You can get boxes of 100 gloves very inexpensively at discount stores, such as Costco.

Rev Happy
My '95 Sonoma extended cab pickup idles too fast. The idle speed has been creeping up lately to a point where it's now 400 rpm over what it should be. The engine is the 2.2L four-cylinder with an automatic transmission. I haven't done anything unusual to the truck, and other than the high revving problem, it runs fine. It's been 20,000 or 30,000 miles since I've had any maintenance work other than oil and filter changes. The truck has 118,000 miles on it. A friend thinks the problem is dirty injectors. Could that be the problem? Is there anything I can check before I have to take it to the dealership?
Pat Sloan, Jr.
Greensboro, North Carolina

Given your truck's mileage and the fact that it apparently hasn't had a tune-up in a while leads us to suspect the PCV valve and/or the PCV valve hose. Checking the PCV valve is one of the easiest tests you can do. Before you remove the PCV valve, check the connection hose. Look for a loose fit or signs of cracking, checking, or other wear. The PCV connections should be tight, and the hose should be free of defects. Pull out the PCV valve and shake it. If it's working right, you'll hear a distinct rattle. If it doesn't rattle or seems sluggish, it needs to be replaced. Other '94-'95 GM products with the 2.2L engine have experienced similar idle problems due to an ill-fitting hose. There is an improved replacement hose, PN 24575743. It would be a good idea to install this hose, even if your current one appears fine.