QOTD: What Was Your Last Sizable Automotive Undertaking?


Over time I have repeatedly expressed my chronic disdain of vans, mine in particular.  Even though I own this Ford, for my purposes vans are the automotive equivalent of a gallbladder – it is quite easy to function without them.  No doubt some people reading this have a pronounced need for vans, but few are the situations I’ve had in which a sedan or crew-cab pickup couldn’t do the task just as well or better.

Rant aside, I’m not going to neglect the van I do have.  And she was needing some attention.


Giving the old Ford the once-over back in the spring, I noticed this pop-knot on the lower radiator hose.  This is a 2000 model van and this hose was installed at the factory, so it didn’t exactly surprise me this had happened.  Like people, rubber ages.

The Ford has also been sitting…a lot.  The current odometer reading is 114,116; I last changed the oil in March of 2015 at an odometer reading of 111,979.  Roughly 2,200 miles in sixteen months isn’t a lot of usage.  Given the way we (don’t) use it, there wasn’t a huge sense of urgency to replace this hose.


Part of that is due to the lower radiator hose looking like a mutation between a spider and an octopus.  When I went to the parts store to pick it up two days after I ordered it (do you seriously think they would keep a $110 hose on the shelf?) I didn’t even need my receipt – they remembered me.

This hose does make an impression.  A customer saw me walking around with the hose.  He asked what the hose was far, likely thinking for something exotic, like a 1970s Maserati Quattroporte or a Lamborghini Miura.  When I told him it was for a Ford van, he said (and I have edited his statement):  “You have to be f***ing kidding me!  That’s for a Ford van?  That’s f***ing crazy.”  I can’t say I disagree.

The oil cooler is the reason for the two branches on the left and connect just above the oil filter.  The top connects to the water pump, the bottom to the lower side of the radiator, and the right hose to the filler tank.  This isn’t a small, dainty hose.


Getting home, I tear into the old Ford.  I drain the radiator…


And I look under the hood.  Thinking about it, I look at it from the other angle…


Which isn’t much better.  All the air intake plumbing is easily removable and creates more room than seems possible.


Doing so reveals the water pump is way down there.  The two hoses to the oil cooler (one of which I marked with chalk) are draped over the front crossmember of the frame.


The old hose was surprisingly easy to remove.  I do recommend pulling it out from the bottom.  Install the new hose from the top and start at the water pump.  The entire job went much better than I thought.  And, yes, I did use new hose clamps and fresh coolant.


With the old van having dual heat there are an abundance of heater hoses.  I’m saving those for another day but have researched the tools needed for removing Ford’s plastic retainer clips.  While it sounds oxymoronic for this being a van, the heater hoses are relatively easy to access.

Between replacing both radiator hoses (the upper was a snap, taking three minutes) and refilling the radiator, the job took about five hours.  A good portion of that was figuring things out, so I could do the job again in about half that time.  It also gave me three bloody knuckles, several finger lacerations, a bruised sternum from having to lie on the radiator support to reach the water pump, and the satisfaction of having fixed it myself.  I’ve since given the old rig fresh gasoline and its 5.4 liter engine seems pretty happy to be active again.

So, my question:  What was your last sizable automotive repair endeavor?