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?
I did the coolant hoses on the Focus this spring, it was leaking around the thermostat housing. I ordered every hose including the heater hoses.
One of the spring clamps was so inaccessible I wound up cutting it with a Dremel tool, praying I would be able to install the new clamp afterwards. My heater hoses came with preinstalled spring clamps that worked like a mouse trap, get the hose on, reach in and spring the trap and you’re done.
The heater hoses were impossible to reach, and since the leaking stopped after I replaced the hoses I could reach I ran out of enthusiasm and left the old ones in…
Ha, this sounds like the story on my Miata. I bought the full set (9, if I remember right) of hoses after one sprung a leak. The leaker was one of the easy ones. Once the car was no longer leaking, and with research having confirmed what a nasty job some of the rest of them were, I kind of stopped.
That reminds me though, I should put antifreeze in it at some point, it’s been a couple of months and it’s still water.
I did the top end of a 95 Blazer with a 4300 Vortec motor. Took me 20 hours because I did it on my back and had to drill out many rusted fasteners. My only lift was a Toyota fork-lift. I MF’d every GM engineer that decided 3 different sizes of Metric and SAE fasteners in the same component made sound engineering sense. Everywhere I tried to put a socket was just a fraction of an inch (or millimeter) too far out of the way to either a) make complete engagement fastener-to-tool, or b) get a proper arc on the socket wrench when tightening or loosening.
It never did run right, even with my formal training and the factory service manual as a guide. One true bastard of a car, I was not sad in the slightest to see it go to the crusher.
Heater core on a ’96 4.3 Blazer- had to disconnect and remove the ENTIRE dashboard to get it done. On the same vehicle- replaced the knock sensor which is way back against the firewall and there is virtually no room for a tool!
All the motor mounts on a 1996 Taurus station wagon with the higher output V6
motor- that was an all day job involving hydraulic jacks and pry bars!
’97 Town Car was the same way. Had to undo the entire dash to pry it forward enough to shimmy the core out and in.
Car stunk of old coolant for a few weeks after that because, well, there’s no way to shimmy a 200,000 mile heater core out without tipping out a bit of rancid coolant.
And add to that goofy things like an 18mm hex head on some metric bolts…
Many kits don’t come with 18 freaking mm
That looks like it was a real pain. I hate working on vans.
I just did the brakes on my 2004 Ram pickup; pretty straight forward, and last month I rebuilt the front end on my 1969 Charger; new ball joints, bushings, motor mounts and a transmission mount. Not a fun job but what difference in the way the car drives.
It was a few years ago when No. 1 son bought his 89 Grand Marquis. He planned to drive on trips with it, so all of the belts and hoses got replaced, along with the thermostat and the temp sensor for his automatic temp control heater. We also did plugs, cap, rotor, wires and a fuel filter.
The job took us two days, partly because the temp sensor we got from NAPA came to us after some mysterious person took the guts out of it (presumably to use in his old sensor housing) and put it back in the box. A warehouse order was required to get a second one that was complete.
The Ford 5.0 was not as simple for coolant hoses as I had remembered my 60s Mopars being. Lots of hose clamps later, we were finally finished. Yes, with bruises and cuts on our hands.
Installing the two small hoses by the water pump is a PITA. You guys had to deal with them for the thermostat. The third time or so I finally figured out to cut approximately half an inch off the ends of the L-shaped hose so it fits more easily.
That’s a honey of a van, Jason. I’m surprised you only have one seeing as how you love it so. 🙂
The Porsche has windows that lower slightly when the door is opened in order to seal better one the door is closed again. The driver side one stopped doing so and it was apparently due to the window regulator failing.
New regulator ordered, I started to take the door panel off and then the panel with the airbag inside the door (after disconnecting the battery and letting it sit) after taking some time to figure out how the clip that attaches the airbag wiring is properly de-clipped. Unlike your average door panel this one has various fiddly wires and mini-lights to light up areas like the door handle and door release etc all of which turned out to be created with very little slack which made it kind of a fiddly nightmare to unplug everything without breaking anything.
Eventually once the panel was off it was time to remove the window glass which wasn’t too bad and then remove and install a new regulator. Once installed and everything hooked up and installed again I realized the glass didn’t go all the way down. It turns out the regulator for the Boxster is the same part number and the unit ships with a stop in place since the Boxster window is shorter. So I took everything apart again and removed the stop.
Then after reassembly everything worked except for the door latch itself for some reason that I am afraid I no longer exactly remember even though it was only last summer. So I ordered a new one of those and took everything apart yet again and replaced the door latch from the inside of the door working pretty much blind and wondering how this was done at the factory without workers that have seven fingers on each hand.
Having had lots of practice at reassembling the door panel that went very smoothly now and the door latch works great EXCEPT for when I lock the door.
If the door is unlocked the door opens first time every time. When the door is locked and then unlocked via the keyfob I now have to pull the exterior latch anywhere form three to a record twelve times to get the door to actually release its latch. Using the key to unlock the door actually does not work at all which is even stranger. Mind you every time I pull the latch the window dips slightly so the latch IS getting power and does understand what to do, it just refuses to do so unless pulled a multiple number of times. I’ve adjusted it several times with no improvement and at this point am sort of lost as to what to try next besides buying another latch and trying it again.
I’m quite frustrated by it and at times find myself a bit envious of my neighbor’s Jeep that he drives around without any doors on whatsoever…
Reminds me of the window regulator drama I had with my old ’87 Mercedes 300E. I’m sure a Merc tech could do the job in no time, but I couldn’t figure out which ratchet position/socket extension length worked best for the job (or if one existed at all). In the end I wound up cutting and ripping the metal apart to get at it.
That car (my first and only Benz) was a bitch for me.
I’m on my second – the first was a ’92 400E which was great to work on although it didn’t need much and I never had to get into the doors. The current one is a GL450 – So far I’ve replaced the front disks and pads (you need the largest breaker bar you can find), one air shock (paid my mechanic to do that, a surpisingly affordable repair) and over the weekend did the oil (OK once you figure out how to get the shielding off the bottom since the dealership just sucks it out of the top), the air filters (yes you have have to remove a strut brace which is easy once you have the correct female torx bits), and all 8 spark plugs which are under the air filters. Everything took a bit longer than anticipated for a first time, but all were simple tasks just requiring a methodical approach and there was plenty of room to work. I love V8 Mercedes’s, just nice, big and surprisingly relatively simple engines that like to loaf along.
So is the latch electrically actuated when you pull on the door handle? How odd.
I sympathize with your statement about the seven-fingered factory workers. I had to replace the exterior door handle on my Mark VIII after the original broke and despite it being described as a one-person job I could *not* for the life of me figure out how to perform one step without sprouting a third hand. After standing there for about 15 minutes trying to figure it out, I snared an unsuspecting neighbor and got him to supply said third hand. Maybe there’s a tool that the factory uses.
I believe so, there are numerous microswitches (or elves) in the various assemblies that make stuff happen. If it just didn’t work at all I’d be ok with it and would just replace it, but the fact that it always does eventually work is what I find odd. Also, the window DOES move every time you pull the handle so the handle IS sending a signal every time. Just the latch won’t open. I’ve asked on the various forums and this seems to be a new issue that hasn’t happened before or at least is very uncommon.
Just call them elves. Terry Pratchett would have.
Thank you for renewing my appreciation for my Miata’s crank windows and purely mechanical latches. 🙂
That’s exactly how my Miata was and you are correct, the old skool stuff never breaks. Although on a Miata IIRC the easiest way to change the oil filter is to remove the passenger side front wheel (say what?) and it’s always a plus to have three fingers amputated on one hand so you can actually reach in anywhere to replace anything that needs doing. Thank goodness it’s a Miata so it rarely needs anything and seems happy just to have the other eight new coolant hoses in the trunk ready for the next owner. (Just don’t leave Mustang hoses in there instead 🙂 )
On my 1978 mini (manual windows) the runners that the bottom of the window sits in had rusted so badly htat they became jammed in the interior of the door last month. A known problem (from water running down the window past the inadequate seal I guess) and a reasonalby easy fix, although not a hug amount of fun fiddling around blind inside the door trying to get the winder mechanism all hooked back up.
So not completely trouble-free. But I much prefer a mechanical fix to trying to work out which bit of an electrical mechansim is busted.
Conversion vans are like booze, women, sugary foods, and free wi-fi….it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Besides, I don’t want to hoard them and deny somebody else the pleasures I have experienced.
I replaced a malfunctioning power driver’s door latch in my wife’s Mazda CX-9 last year.
I was quite amazed with the amount of engineering that is evident in a late model door. I found the execution of design goals exquisite in the Mazda–it was an elegant design. while appearing at first glance to be a bowl of spaghetti, it all came apart beautifully, and went back together very logically. Each electrical connector alone was a study in industrial design.
While new cars seem expensive, my goodness, what beauty they contain!
And doesn’t it give you a real boost when you work on something that is so well-engineered? You almost feel the engineer behind this subsystem is looking over your shoulder and pointing out how to work on it, which step is next. You sort of get a sense that it was money well-spent, an extra (and unexpected) affirmation that you bought the right vehicle.
I was quite amazed with the amount of engineering that is evident in a late model door.
VW had a hard time with window regulators and door wire harnesses a while back. They designed the Mk V doors so the outer skin can be removed, as well as the inner trim panel.
Here’s someone else’s video of opening up the door and replacing a broken wire harness. I think it’s really neat the way VW made the door so accessible for service.
That regulator/door lock dilemma sounds like a real fluster cluck!
I decided to replace the rubber window seals around the vent windows in my ’83 Silverado to stop the wind whistle, starting w/ the derivers’ side door. The parts catalog spoke of how easy the one piece seal was to install. What it did not say was that the entire door has to be disassembled! The vent window assembly is bolted at the top & the bottom of the door. After I’d gotten it removed, I found that there was NO WAY a single person could get the new rubber installed. After struggling with it for three days, I took it to a friend’s shop, where it took three guys (two to hold the assembly and the third to install the rubber) to get it together! After getting it all back together, I find that the window now whistles WORSE than when the project started (the new seals don’t seem to fit like OEM). Needless to say, the passenger side rubber remains OEM and the new kit for that side will go w/ the truck should I decide to sell it!! 🙂
Replacing the timing gears on the F100. The larger gear (mounted to the crankshaft) is a fiber concoction, to make it quiet, as well as prone to failure. One has to pull the camshaft to do it, which was a bit hairy, but it slid out front, where the grille had been removed.
I decided that I never wanted this to happen again, so I bought HD steel gears. Now it sounds like there’s a blower, with the gear whine.
Correction Paul, the larger gear is on the camshaft, not crank.
You’re right. I forgot to mention this was almost ten years ago; fortunately I haven’t had to do any significant repairs since then. Knocks on wood.
Replaced all the hoses in my 85 Mazda GLC in the early 90s. That car had no power steering, no a/c, little emissions plumbing and a carb, so no mass of EFI plumbing. It was almost as clean under the hood as a 1960s compact. The job was a snap, radiator hoses and heater hoses replaced in an afternoon. Not one skinned knuckle.
Ordered all new hoses for the 98 Civic. I got some of them in, but lacking ramps, there were some I simply could not reach. Threw some money at the Honda dealer instead.
Changed plugs, distributor cap and rotor on both the GLC and Civic. I think the plugs and distributor cap/rotor for the Civic was the last productive thing I did under the hood.
I blanch at the thought of venturing under the hood of the VeeDub.
And the first productive thing I did to a car was replace the turn signal switch on my 70 Cougar. My grandfather had told me there was such a thing as a wheel puller, but he did not have one. Off to M&T in downtown Kalamazoo for a puller, iirc $15 Nixonbux, or maybe Fordbux, then stop at the Ford dealer on the way home for the switch.
No airbags in those brave days, so took the trim off the front of the wheel, set up the puller, gave it about 3 strokes of my ratchet and the wheel popped off. Who knew it was so easy?
That puller paid for itself in one use. Had it around for years before finally selling it as “vintage” on eBay a few years ago.
There is nothing like a steering wheel puller when you need one. When I was in law school, one of my roommates wanted to do a really tasteless Halloween costume which depicted someone after a car accident. He wanted a steering wheel to wear around his neck, but was amazed at what a junkyard wanted for an old steering wheel. I made him a deal – if he bought me a steering wheel puller, I would take the steering wheel off my 71 Scamp and he could use it for the evening. It was a win-win where he got his steering wheel cheaper than he could have otherwise, and where I still own a steering wheel puller.
… he got his steering wheel cheaper than he could have otherwise, and where I still own a steering wheel puller.
LOL…great story….but does your puller fit Studebakers? Mine cracked me up: three sets of bolts and three feet: one each for Ford, GM and Mopar, which covered about 80-90% of the cars on the road then.
I knew I would never use mine again with the advent of air bags. One of the cruise control switches on my Escort quit, and it was mounted on the wheel, as is Ford’s practice. Found a new switch and wire harness set on eBay, brand new in the Ford Parts bag, for a fraction of what the dealer wanted. 40 years ago, I would have had it plugged in in 20 minutes, or less. Now, the wire harness plugged in under the air bag. Gave it a good long think, and threw $80 at an independent shop to put the switch in, and take the risk of the bag detonating.
I wonder how many air bag thieves manage to set the things off as they are stealing them?
Yes, the air bag thing has made me think, too. The puller did come in handy when the Scamp fried its emergency flasher switch which was mounted in the column under the wheel. As for Studebaker bolts, no idea. If I ever get that Studebaker, I’ll let you know. 🙂
See below – I swapped steering wheels in my Fit, which meant removing the airbag. I made sure to disconnect the car battery for a couple hours before tackling the job, and then tried to keep myself out of the potential line of fire if things went south.
The airbag has to be triggered electrically. No battery, no fire. I can relate to the fear though. FWIW, I disconnected my ancient airbag module a long time ago, along with the trigger plug inside the steering wheel. Sleep easy, plus I now have extra wiring on the car that I can repurpose for more useful things.
The airbag has to be triggered electrically. No battery, no fire
Besides detonating, if you mess up the wires to the bag, you get an airbag fault light. Mess up the clock spring, stuff stops working and you get a warning light. Back in the day, all there was was a couple slip rings on the back of the wheel and a couple contacts on the steering shaft housing. These days, you can mess up a lot of things in there, all of them expensive, so I figured discretion was the better part of valor.
I have the same tool for pulling Harmonic balancers cam sprockets etc never tried it on a steering wheel yet.
You got me thinking if my 60’s wooden pilot shafts are a “vintage tool”? Seems like I had to buy a different one for every stick shift car I bought needed a new clutch. Also have a bunch of my grandfathers tool from the 20’s & 30’s when he owned Midway Garage in Portland,OR. Still have a bunch of ball peen hammer heads in various stages of completion that he started and power hack saw blades and old files waiting to be turned into knife blades.
Also have a bunch of my grandfathers tool from the 20’s & 30’s when he owned Midway Garage in Portland,OR.
My Grandfather worked in a Ford garage in the 20s, so had a pile of specialized Model T tools, including a home brew one for checking the oil: a long handle with a little bit of U channel on the end to turn the petcock handle, and a spur to dig dirt out of the end of a clogged petcock outlet. He had all the Model T tools mounted on a board and sold them as a set years ago.
He had an ancient Snapon 3/4″ drive ratchet, that required you push the shaft out of the handle and push in back in from the other side to reverse the ratchet, instead of flipping a lever. Some scumbag broke into his workshop and the Snapon ratchet and sockets and a vintage pump action 22 were among the casualties.
My Aunt disposed of most of the rest when she sold her house. I inherited the items in the pic, from when he was working in an Essex/Terraplane shop in the 30s: home brew spark plug socket, a spare tire lock for a 33 Terraplane and a pair of tire chain pliers. I donated them to a local Hudson museum last year.
I’ve owned a lot of old cars and usually try to tackle most repairs that don’t require me to buy a bunch of new tools to get the job done. Otherwise, it goes to the shop.
I’ve done a valve cover gasket on my old Volvo 850 and it wasn’t too bad. Now, I’m considering attempting the repair on my ’05 Nissan Quest. However, unlike the Volvo, there is almost no room to work. Just replacing the camshaft position sensor was a nightmare. The valve cover gasket on the Nissan would require me to remove the entire cowl assembly, intake manifold, and upper plentum to access the rear valve cover. I’d also have to replace the spark plugs while I’m back there. I think it needs a rear engine mount too.
I might need someone to talk me out of this one.
Happy to oblige: Send it to a mechanic. They have a lift, and they have tools you don’t have. And better that they smash their fingers than you.
On the one hand, it’s great that each new generation of cars requires less maintenance than the one before. But when things go wrong, holy mother, they cram things in so tightly under the hood that even a simple job gets complicated fast.
A friend of mine complained that the heater in his Saturn Vue hybrid wasn’t heating the cabin on cold days. “Sounds like a bad thermostat,” sez I, “and it’s costing you gas mileage, too.” Knowing that thermostats are affordable, and owning a nice set of Craftsman socket wrenches, I told him it was a quick job we could tackle together.
I bought the thermostat. Once we opened the hood of the car, I couldn’t find the thermostat housing anywhere along the radiator hoses. Some quick Google research taught me that GM, in its wisdom, crammed the thermostat down low on the back side of the engine, buried under spaghetti and close to the firewall. I threw up my hands and told my disappointed friend he needed to take it into a shop. I’m to old for that crap.
GM…gawd. To change the bulb for the headlight on my wife’s ’09 Aura, you jack the car up, remove the tire and take the plastic shroud in the wheel well off, loosen the bumper cover, and contort your arm up under the thing to get he bulb out (with almost no wiggle room). This is the official procedure…for changing a light bulb. No kidding.
I got my 10 year old son to replace a side markee light, under similar circumstances. His smaller hands were able to get in there and install the socket (Mercury) without much disassembly
I heard the same thing years ago when my daughter’s Aura needed a new headlight. Looked it up on YouTube, found a much faster way. Essentially, you unbolt the headlight assemblies from the chassis, the upper splash pan, pull the grille away from the body and gently wiggle them out through the openings in the front bumper/grille.
I used a similar method when I replaced the headlights on my G6…
Saturn ION, remove front bumper skin to replace headlight bulb. Do that in a truck stop parking lot in the middle of nowhere at night, I triple dog dare ya.
Fixed the stalling wrangler, after tracking down every sensor and wire with a multimeter, it was a combination of a bad crankshaft position sensor and a faulty ignition coil adapter for the MSD coil.
Fixed up my 500$ cherokee.. Put on a new hood and hatch and steering wheel I had laying around from an old cherokee, and did front brakes and fixed a hole in its frame (ugh). Overall I’m 700$ into it and it drives great.
As for the grand cherokee… I got rid of the double platinum plugs and put champion coppers gapped at. 45 back in, much much better. I wouldn’t run anything other than champion coppers in a 4.0.
Ugh. I’m embroiled in it right now. It’s not “Sizeable” in the sense that I’ve done a whole lot of actual mechanical work, but it’s becoming rather monumental in that it’s dragging along for weeks on end with no resolution. My 300M, at 59,700mi has developed a bizarre electronic/vacuum/ECU issue whereby every time it receives a fresh tank of fuel it just can’t seem to understand how to run. This has resulted in rough idle, then the inability to engage the A/C compressor, and finally to sporadic high temperature readings, but ONLY for the first 2 or three starts after refueling. It’s particularly annoying because I carpool to work, so only drive the car about 3 times a week, meaning that I have to rely on the (rather non-technical) descriptions of its latest escapades from my other half. Thus far I’ve replaced several fuses related to the cooling system, a hi/low fan speed relay, an A/C clutch relay, flushed the coolant, tried starting the car only after “resetting” the idle speed sensor by turning the key to “On” without actually starting the engine, waiting for all of the warning lights to go out and then turning it over. I’ve also tried a similar tactic (based on advice received online, for better or worse) by turning the key to “On” and running the gear selector through all positions and back to Park, which supposedly will reset the Idle Control Module on the transmission (I’m skeptical of this one). And the list goes on and on. The trouble, of course, is that the car will never replicate its bizarre behavior in the presence of a trained mechanic or diagnostic equipment.
So now that we’ve once again burned through another tank of gas with only 24 hours or so of bad behavior from Big Red, it’s soon going to be time to fuel up again. So the current plan is to fill the tank and drive directly to the mechanic in hopes he can get a reading on what the hell is going on. Or….it won’t happen this time, it’ll run like a top for another week or month or whatever, and the whole issue will reproduce itself at some infuriatingly inopportune moment. This has been an on and off source of fury for me since late May. We’ll see what happens. During this time I’ve joined more than one online forum devoted to Chrysler’s LH’s, I’ve had my head and hands under the hood, under the car and under the dash about every other day, all to no long-term avail. Confounded electronics! All of this of course is fueling my fire about buying myself a simple little Spitfire as a second car…as at least Lucas electrics are simple. Simply awful, but simple nonetheless. And have I mentioned that I’m not REALLY all that mechanically inclined to begin with? The pic of Paul with the ballpeen hammer in the Peugeot post is giving me some ideas though!
This is an illustration of HELL on Earth. Been there, done that…HATE that!
I’m no Chrysler maven, last experience with a 64 slant 6.
I’d be looking at the fuel gauge circuitry to see where it intersects/feeds/grounds and whether a sender could send to the wrong address. You can try the old trick of leaving the cap loose to see if it’s a pressure relief/carbon canister issue. If your partner tends to pump in more after the click, this could be that chicken finding home.
Speedyk is right about topping off the tank. It’s something I’ve learned myself. Do not top off fuel when filling up. Before emissions it was a non issue but on newer cars it will force raw liquid fuel into the vapor canister and other components. Mayhem will ensue. Moral of story: When gas pump clicks off, car is full. Don’t force more fuel in the tank.
Mine was changing the valve cover gaskets and rear cam seals on my ’97 Toyota T-00 3.4L a couple of months ago. It took about 7 hours but I saved about $700 in labor. Now just I’ve done it I could probably do it in 5 hours again. Also went ahead and replaced a bunch of vacuum hoses since many of those had to be disconnected anyway.
Before that was swapping out a whining front differential on a 2003 Silverado SS that I used to have. After being quoted $2000, I just decided to tackle it myself in the garage. It was pretty straightforward with the only difficult part being the lifting and holding it in place while in my back in order to get the bolts started. Ended up saving about $1200 by doing it myself.
I was dreading both of these jobs but in the end glad I did them for the familiarity of it.
I just finished installing a complete new interior into a 1968 Mustang coupe. Full mechanical and body restoration was completed last year My teen son and I have been working on the car together for 2 years. It will be his first car. I had the completed car appraised for insurance purposes just today.
That 302 sounds really good. And you two have done an awesome job on this Mustang.
Thanks! It’s been fun. So glad I had the opportunity to teach my son some vital mechanical skills. –His mom had a flat tire on the roadside a few weeks ago…and he just handled it. That felt good.
Regarding restoring old/clapped out cars, make your most outlandish time/material cost estimate, then double it. That will be pretty close!
That’s awesome. Lucky kid. Lucky Dad. Good for you guys!
Last sizeable one, in effort if not in parts, was trying to get the 780 to actually start properly so I could move it from street parking near my old apartment to the driveway of my new house. Thought it was either the ignition switch or the park/neutral safety switch. Bought both. Decided to try the ignition switch first. Disassemble the bottom of the dash (more parts than you’d think), then stick your head into the footwell and take a good look at how that thing is wedged up in there. Try to get a socket on those fasteners. Just try! Jesu Cristo…that was a nightmare. After several attempts spanning multiple trips, I finally got the old one off and the new one on. Nope, didn’t fix the problem. Okay, park/neutral safety switch? Ha. I couldn’t even get the gear selector faceplate off to get to it. Again, it appears to be held on by a fastener that would require a seussian tool to access. Or, I was missing something obvious, which is entirely possible given my frustration level. I did not replace the switch, and instead attached a test lead directly to the starter motor. Touch the other end of that to the negative battery terminal, and it starts.
The problem still exists, and the dash is still apart. But I’ve barely touched that car in the last year. House Stuff has usurped old car stuff, at least temporarily. Trying to figure out how to manage my time better to do both.
I changed an alternator on my 2002 Tahoe a few months ago. One hour, flat. And I’m slow and methodical. I want to do it right.
That said, most of the time nowadays, a local guy down the road does most of my work; tomorrow it’ll be brakes all around and an oil change…stuff I used to do exclusively. But he and his wife are family friends and he can use the work. And I can afford it, and I have a house to finish. Still feels weird when I see it from the viewpoint of 20 years ago, when I was swapping a tired Olds 307 for a Chevy 350 TPI in our family’s 89 Caprice wagon. Or ten years ago, doing my own ball joints and fuel pump on my ’97 Blazer.
I resealed the C6 trans in my ’68 Ford last week (it was drooling ATF wherever I parked it). Since the engine had to come out I’m now installing remanufactured heads (two burnt valves) and I rebuilt the carb (flooding issue).
Here’s my advice if any of you is tempted to do you own auto tranny work: don’t. Replacing seals at the pump and the output shaft is no big deal unless you manage to unseat a bushing deep inside. If that happens you’ll spend hours fighting the intricate and very heavy clockwork inside. I’ve never been so close to tears working on a car before.
Definitely the biggest automotive undertaking I’ve attempted. FE engines can get VERY dirty as they tend to constantly leak oil between the intake and the block. Very nasty.
I used to do lots of overhauls on VWs, but for some reason those don’t count as ‘undertakings’ in my mind. They became routine.
The hose topic reminds me of a tricky hose-related job on my ’69 Squareback.
The steel high-pressure FI lines run through the frame tunnel along with the shift rod and the clutch and throttle cables. Terrible design, now that I think of it.
One of those steel lines started to leak, probably worn by one of the control cables. The tunnel was filling with gas and there was NO way to get in there. The steel lines were welded in. So I bought some copper water tubing, cut two lengths, surrounded them with rubber air-conditioner insulation to protect them, and clamped them along the bottom of the tunnel. Then I disconnected the original pipes and fastened the existing rubber hoses to the new copper.
All of this was done outside in 10-degree weather. No choice.
Amazingly this fix lasted for 10 years and 100k miles.
The last major mission was taking the injector pump out of my Citroen to remove the engine immobiliser, The car still runs fine and reliably so I mark that one a success.
I recently went on a fluid change fest replacing coolant in both cars the Citroen swallowed its new green diet quite happily but the Hillman now leaves green mini lakes where its parked, having just sorted out a 1725 replacement engine including a couple of new welsh plugs I have deduced the plug behind the flywheel is leaking, I replaced a rotten plug on the fresh engine and the rust stain leading from it to the sump flange mirrors where the drips come from under my car, so it appears an engine swap may be sooner than originally planned. This will be the second paddock found engine my car has had though this time Ive looked inside instead of straight from field to engine bay like the current resident after that I hope to install an overdrive I’m trying to prise from a mates grasp (its a spare and hes clearing stuff out so fingers crossed) then the car is mechanically finished bar maintenance yay.
We used to cut holes in the firewall to get to inaccessible plugs that faced the firewall. Just cut the hole leaving part of it attached and bend down. When the repair is done just bend it back in place, attach using screws or rivets and seal the seams and you are good to go. I was just discussing this method with my son the other day as a method to gain access to a place on my 1995 Taurus which he was repairing for me.
We used to cut holes in the firewall to get to inaccessible plugs that faced the firewall. Just cut the hole leaving part of it attached and bend down. When the repair is done just bend it back in place, attach using screws or rivets and seal the seams and you are good to go. I was just discussing this method with my son(29) the other day as a method to gain access to a place on my 1995 Taurus which he was repairing for me as I am no longer physically able to do most the work anymore. But everyone of my 55 years(I am 65) of experience either repairing or helping repairing cars helps him to get the job done on his cars, his sisters car and his parents cars
All of my recent work has been on relatively new cars (2015 Honda Fit/Jazz and 2015 RAM 2500 Tradesman), mostly doing mods like wheels/tires, etc. The Fit got new springs (slight drop, stiffer for autocrossing), which meant removal of the struts. I have a spring compressor, so no biggie, and the rear springs were a simple 20-minute exercise.
The diciest mod was replacing the plastic-grip steering wheel in the Fit with an OEM leather wheel from the EX-L model, which involved removing the airbag, then the wheel, then disassembling the whole thing (lots of switchgear) and transferring all the bits to the new wheel.
…an OEM leather wheel from the EX-L model
When I had a car without a leather wrapped wheel, I would mosey over the the auto parts store and get a lace on leather cover. Cheaper, quicker and easily replaceable if the leather was damaged or deteriorated.
With shop manual and a review of some very helpful Youtube videos, I rebuilt the 2.5 L motor in my 2003 Subaru Legacy. It had 235K miles and while it ran, it leaked a lot of oil (head gaskets, etc.). I had a local shop do the machine work, over-bore, valve job, 6-Star head gaskets and now it burns/leaks no oil over a 5-6K mile oil change.
My last big job was actually on my bike. Adjust valves, flush & replace coolant, air filter clean and re-oil, install fuel filter (it didn’t have one originally), rear brake pads, new rear tire, service chain, and a bunch of little stuff that isn’t easily accessible with the bodywork on. I also degreased the entire engine and frame.
Nice, I’m doing the same thing on my Magna today. It was idling poorly and trying to stall, turns out the valves were way too tight. I had forgotten how annoying it is to get at the valves. Fun indeed.
I HATE working on full-size vans. Things that are easy to reach or common on a pickup are either in a hard to reach location and/or a slightly different part that is “special order”.
’66 Dodge A-100 with 273 V-8 stuffed into the doghouse. Seats had to come out just to change spark plugs.
’74 Ford E-100 302 V-8 water pump and power brake booster exclusive to the van body.
’86 Dodge B-250 oil drain plug right up against the exhaust crossover pipe. Timing mark underneath the van.
Most recent project was getting the VW Thing straightened out after typical butchering by previous clueless owners.
The usual incorrect “009” distributor with the flat spot inducing mechanical only advance curve was present, of course. Carb was smaller than stock, mounted on a backyard fabricated intake manifold. New or rebuilt stock parts fixed these issues.
PCV was mis-plumbed, resulting in sludge and oil leaks everywhere.
Grease was leaking on the left rear brakes. Six hours of labor is listed to do the rear bearings. Because someone had reversed the inner and outer bearings, it took me at least double hours to disassemble and correct that one side.
Emptied the ashtray on my Renault 5 the other day.
Biggest recent undertaking? I put some gas in the tank the other day. Filled ‘er up all the way as a matter of fact. Re: the Van, did I ever mention that a neighbor of mine has a very similar van? The author is not the only one out there who loves him some Ford conversion van.
I haven’t done big jobs since rebuilding the carby on my old Cortina. Who else remembers going to the parts store and being able to buy vacuum, fuel and water hoses off the roll and cut to your measure? No funny kinks and octopus arms necessary!
Once cars got computerized, I left my tools on the shelf. However when our ’00 Verada/Diamante developed a fault in the climate control system while my son was an apprentice at Caterpillar, he pulled the dash out, traced the fault to a loose connector under the carpet up behind the dash, reattached it and reinstalled everything. When you see your car with the dash out, you sorta wonder if it’ll ever run again! It gave me a newfound respect for the training Ben was getting in his apprenticeship, and a greater degree of respect for him as a young man in his own right and not just my son.
Same feeling here when my older son (now in early-mid-20s) pulled the dash out of our old ’98 Grand Caravan to resolder several cold solder connections that had failed (and were causing much electrical wonkiness). Worked a treat, and he ended up getting over 270K miles out of the van (we gave it to him at 200K).
Oh yes, the day I tore the dash apart in the 70 Cougar. I had a summer job in a foundry in Albion, so rented a tiny apartment near the foundry. Tossing the essentials in the Cougar, I thought “I’ll put the TV in the passenger seat with the screen facing the seatback, because that is the heavier side of the set” I didn’t want the big handles on the tuner dials digging into the upholstery, so I pulled the handles off and laid them on top of the dash…..the UHF handle immediately fell into the defroster vent.
Ford installed their dashes with about two dozen Phillips head screws back then. I took them all out, pulled out the molded foam dash cover and examined the duct work. Got lucky. Wiggled the flapper between “defrost” and “heat” a few times, and heard the TV tuner handle drop into the bottom heated air outlet, which I unsnapped and retrieved the handle.
Not counting projects just daily drivers. I don’t mind huge jobs on project cars.
Front left and right lower control arms on the Sentra dd. It was cheaper to order the whole assemblies including the ball joints from the US than it was to just buy the bushings and have them pressed in here in the great white north. I had co-workers who would group order parts with me and split the shipping. Not a really difficult job however one of the bolts sheared off on the left side. Thankfully with enough sticking out to grip it and remove with some persuasion. Did the front struts on the Sentra also but that took less than an hour.
Brake and fuel lines on a few FWD Toyotas. I swear these are the first parts to go on once the body shell is welded together.
All the brake lines on my 1994 Cougar XR7 v6. Fuel lines on the gas tank of the same Cougar. Why do they wait for the coldest week in February to split. Just after filling it right up. I knocked on neighbour’s doors borrowing enough gas cans to hold all the dead dinos. A few laughed at me when they asked why I needed them. Perhaps the car knew that my garage is heated with a wood stove and was deliberately being difficult.
The most epic daily driver fix was the water pump on my 1993 Nissan hardbody truck with the VG30. Start by removing the grill and three hours later after taking off the timing belt you can finally get a socket on the bolts that hold the pump on.
I swore after each one of these it would be the last but I just can’t help myself.
Forgot about that I replaced the rear LCA arm bushings on my Citroen but for some reason removing both arms taking them to a mates place to press them off and new ones on doesnt seem like a major job anymore.
Entire front suspension and brake swap on the Minx was forgotten too and that got featured here because Paul saw a photo I posted yeah that was a major job, gearbox swap on the same car a couple of summers back engine swap a month before that, Ive been quite busy when I look more closely at the parts removed laying in the carport. Original wheels fitted for more clearance for gearbox out.
Does your Citroen have transverse torsion bars in the back?
Yep mine now has a 2003 Peugeot 306 rear axle the original died of badly worn rear steering bushes.
Bit of a PITA anything that is not replacing the shocks. However, the whole setup is very compact
I am right in the middle of a moderately complicated one right now. The crankcase ventilation system on an E46 BMW (2002 325i) is a pretty complicated arrangement with a plastic valve and 4 hoses that connect to various parts of the intake and then to the dipstick (as a return drain for any oil picked up). This job is ‘possible’ with the intake manifold on, but no fun at all since its on the bottom of the intake and blocked by a LOT of wiring and other plumbing. So I have the intake off and, of course, while retightening a positive battery lead on the starter solenoid, I got a little overzealous and overtightened the nut and cracked the plastic part of the solenoid—a $65 part that only BMW sells apart from the starter assembly…joy.
With all of the electrical connections, fingers crossed that it all works right again when reassembled.
deep into it…
A German car needlessly complicated? No….never……!
Changed out a radiator in a 2001 Hyundai excel on Canada day (July 1st) for a friend. Couldn’t believe the part store was open and had the part in stock. Took me and a buddy 1/2 an hour. We must have done an ok job as the last I heard she is almost 1/2 way on her 5000km trip from Vancouver island to Quebec…
Ha, it’s awesome that you should pose this question–I had just installed a new Comp Cams performance cam in my Mustang, along with some heads that I ported and polished, myself. I had installed the upgraded valve springs, myself, and also did the timing chain/ tensioner and water pump, myself. It’s a 3.8 Mustang, but it’s ridiculously fast now. I ported the upper and lower intake, myself, as well. I’ve never done anything like this, and this was a budget build daily driver that was aimed at adding some aggressive street performance. There were three broken bolts (nothing you can do about rusted ones with 210,000 kms on the clock), and the used reconditioned heads that I had bought to port/ polish, I guess that someone must have stripped the rocker arm bolt threads and tapped it out for a bigger bolt…..which required that I re-tap and heli-coil it so that it would accept the factory 8 mm bolt. Nobody really does a build for fuel economy, but I’d kept the air velocity up in the porting, instead of hogging it out for max CFM, and the power increases are noticeable, yet the fuel economy seems to be just a little more thirsty (maybe 1 mpg).
I’m doing the same thing to my ’91 Thunderbird Super Coupe (just got my DIY ported heads back after getting a three angle valve job, new guides and resurfacing), and am installing a Moates Quarterhorse on it to tune it.
Nice offbeat builds! I remember when it seemed like V6’s would be the new ‘big’ motor in cars. Low fuel prices and the explosion of modded japanese 4 bangers seems to have left V6’s behind. Had a few friends who build 3.8 Buicks back in the 1990’s—they were brutally fast with turbos.
sort of “Buick” 3800
So far, complete front sub-frame + suspension removal. Steering rack was leaking badly, had it fixed with a seal kit. New bushes and ball joints for LCA and new outer CV joints boots. Putting the whole lot back up was certainly “fun”.
Doing maintenance on the CV joints is a nasty job. Even when looking at it sideways, at 2 mts distance, you’ll end covered in grease.
Have also had replaced struts (hard work, risky), brake pads (dusty), radiators/hoses/thermostats, water pumps (stuck idler pulley anyone), fuel pumps (which on the GM cars I have had needed dropping the tank) and general maintenance.
This week I replaced the brake master cylinder and all three hoses on my 1979 MGB. I drained all the fluid out of the system and refilled with new. If anybody considers putting a rebuilt master cylinder in a B, don’t do it, spring for a new one.
I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to decide whether to rebuild my seriously corroded 1980 B. I’d pretty much concluded it would bankrupt me when I found an eBay add for a decent bodyshell from a 78. It was going for 5 grand, I got it for three.
So the project is now under way, this long weekend saw the engine out of the car ready to be stripped down and sent off to a machine shop. There’s a long road ahead of me but I should end up with a good driver car, which is what the car always was.
I’m on the downhill run on a major job on my 1964 M-B 220SE Sedan, a job that started off a bit over 4 years ago to fix up a seized windscreen wiper linkage, and has been impacted by the arrival of two small people into the household in the meantime, plus a few other areas that have needed to be dealt with along the way…
After getting deep into the car, I can conclude that the wiper linkage is actually the first component installed into the bare body shell at the factory, before the steering column and pedal assemblies. Therefore, the removal, overhaul and replacement of this particular component is somewhat challenging, and is hopefully not again required in my lifetime. I must also say that I believe that I’m the first person to undo many of the fasteners under the dash on my car since it was built, so I guess that’s not too bad.
Since changing out the wiper linkage, I’ve then had to chase inevitable issues with the o-ring seals on the heater box taps, a process almost as frustrating as the wiper linkage, although significantly more accessible. I’ve also had to dry out underfelt and floor coverings soaked in coolant… During this process, I have also found small rust holes lurking in a couple of areas that have been sorted out, and although this has been annoying, these are again things that are good to have dealt with. I have to again break the cooling system on the engine side of the firewall to chase some weeps that presented themselves after I changed the thermostat (which decided to work okay when previously tested in Nov/Dec last year, but gummed up when testing the re-sealed heater circuit a couple of months back…), and hopefully I’ll be able to catch most of the coolant for re-use!
Most recent efforts have been directed at some of the rubber bushings in the front and rear suspension, and again, I feel that I’m the first person to get some of these bolts undone since the factory did them up. The rear suspension torque arms from the body back to the swing axles have been especially educational, with one side requiring the large 36mm bolt to be cut off as it had frozen into the sleeve through the torque arm. I’m lucky that I have access to an experienced friend that has done this stuff a fair bit to provide advice and moral support, plus access to a decent workshop to deal with the mess created with some of these challenges!
I’m now at the point where a little bit of checking over the rear end (plus the minor challenge of reinstalling the road springs) should finish that part of the job off, then a spot of paint touch up, and a new set of tyres should just about get the car back on the road. And the two kids are already looking forward to going for a drive in the old fun car – which surely is the point of the whole exercise!
It looks easier to put a V8 into an Omni, and I have done that.
My last one was diagnosing an engine noise problem on my 2001 Suzuki Savage. It turned out to be the camshaft chain being stretched to the point where the tensioner had run out of travel and was close to popping out of the housing and locking up the motor. At 11,200 miles, mind you. After much research, I found that the chain will stretch just a little with every start – and with a tank than gives you about 120 miles before you switch over to reserve, that happens a lot!
Replacing the chain costs about $800 and it does nothing to prevent this happening again. Spending $800 every 5-10,000 miles wasn’t my cup of tea so I sold it. I won’t buy a Suzuki again.
The first pic is how it’s supposed to look, the second is how mine was, the last is a tensioner failure.
I recently got a genuine Curbside Classic, a ’79 Malibu sedan with a sick 200 V6. I resealed a 350, and installed that in it. A lot of bloody work! All new gaskets, swap the engine mounts, make a Y-pipe, install a Grand Prix dash to replace the broken, cruddy original Malibu one, along with the harnesses to match, upgrade the suspension to match…lots of fun.
And currently replacing the floor in the bathroom of our camper…
And after that, replacing the intake in the Crown Vic – on a weekend trip it split wide open by the thermostat!
The Crown Vic intake isn’t too bad – just don’t cut any fuel lines !
Nice ’79! I hope mine looks that good again someday. It’s currently got a 267 with a broken timing chain and has been sitting for 15 years so it’s going to be a lot of work… Not sure if it’s worth it to resurrect the 267 or just take your route, source a 350 and be done with it with a healthy bump in power.
My DD is a ’97 Crown Vic, so it seems our respective fleets are similar.
Super sharp Malibu, Marc! I always preferred the dash of the Pontiacs myself, and the early 4 doors are very nice as well. Glad you found a CC, was it local?
It’s a very good thing the intake on the Vic didn’t fail on your cross country journey also!
As a professional mechanic, primarily marine, and automotive during the cold dark Oregon winters, I have done so many sizeable jobs its hard to pick one, even if I could remember the last one. One I will always remember, however, is changing the heater blower motor in my Volvo 245. Step 1: Disassemble entire car. Step 2: Remove heater and disassemble. Step 3: remove blower motor and remove fans. Step 4: Reassembly is reverse of disassembly. Makes all the automatic transmissions I have rebuilt seem like a walk in the park.
I heard that Volvo started with the heater blower and then built the rest of the car around it–looks like that rumor is true.
I replaced the upper and lower radiator hoses on my 2003 Honda Accord with new Gates hoses and refilled the radiator with fresh Honda Type 2 fluid. Sounds simple enough, but the breather pipe was in the way of the upper radiator hose and I had to disconnect it in order to remove and install the new upper hose.
I filled the radiator with antifreeze and started the engine to run the coolant through the radiator and engine block. The problem was I had started the engine with the breather tube disconnected from the throttle body, which confused the mass airflow sensor on the breather tube. The sensor threw a code and the check engine light went on and the engine idled rough. Not knowing what the cause of the CEL was, I took the car to the shop and they recommended that I replace the mass airflow sensor for about $250. I told them I’d think about it since the CEL had never come on before this incident and I returned home to do some more tinkering. I removed the positive battery cable and voila, the system reset itself, the check engine light did not come on anymore and the engine idled smoothly.
I had set out to do this job myself in order to save some money but with the $140 diagnostic fee the shop charged me to capture the error codes and to perform an engine idling test, I ended up not saving as much. I guess I learned the hard way.
My last project completed was replacing the valve cover gaskets, spark plugs and wires on my son’s 2001 Audi A6 and then clearing the check engine light so I could get it to pass its emissions inspection last summer. Unfortunately now the check engine light is back on so there’s another project to get it to pass this year’s inspection.
My most recent project attempted is removing the 11 top cylinders that operate the power top on my 1996 Mercedes SL so they can be rebuilt with the hope that once I put them back in the power top will actually function like its supposed to (and never has since I’ve owned the car). So far I have the header above the windshield removed and managed to break the dome light housing that holds the rearview mirror on and have not had any luck finding another used or new.
Now down to just the ’75 Olds 98 (’77 Electra sold) and stick to the simple stuff…plugs, wires, air filter, lights, v-belts. I know I could do the brakes or the hoses if I needed to and didn’t have the money, but mostly I find anything that involves lifting the car off the ground or crawling around under it to be better left to professionals.
The most complicated thing I’ve ever done was adjusting the mixture on the Olds’s Rochester 4bbl. Mostly because I was doing it mainly by feel and the knowledge that it was running lean.
In general the Olds has been so beloved by mechanics for its simplicity that I leave it to them. They get a kick out of working on it and what they do usually doesn’t cost me all that much.
I had a malfunctioning turn signal in my 1995 Dodge Intrepid. I first decided to try a new flasher…easiest possibility, I thought. The flasher from the parts store had the wrong number of pins so it went back. Next I dug into the factory service manual which showed a flasher with the same number of pins as the one from the parts store. Puzzled, I next removed the steering column shrouds and started measuring voltages at the connector for the multifunction (turn signal-emergency flashers-wipers-washers-hi/low beam headlights) switch. They were all correct for the other sections but not the turn signals.
Some parts-book (actually, website) research found that the flasher for the 1996 Dodge Intrepid differed and had the same number of pins as in my 1995. So I bought that flasher and installed it. No fix.
Next I researched the multifunction switch, but it turned out that they are all the same from 1993 to 1997, the entire first-generation of Chrysler LH cars. Just shooting in the dark, I ordered one. What else was there? The new switch fixed it. The new flasher went back.
The problem was a poor internal connection between the turn signal and emergency flasher sections of the multifunction switch. The confusion was that my 1995 car had the turn signal circuitry of a 1996-1997 car, something I confirmed later in a 1996 factory service manual. The newer design has the multifunction switch before the flasher, while the old one draws its 12volt supply for the turn signals through the flasher.
It wasn’t a big repair…this car hasn’t needed any, yet…but a puzzling one.
So far, putting the air suspension back into a coil-converted car. I’ve since then done some routine maintenance (new alternator, caliper, other odds and ends) but nothing like that. The air suspension retrofit was a project that took something like a month combined, since the guys who originally converted the car to coils simply chopped everything that ran to the bags – lines, plugs, sensor wiring, you name it. After I reinstalled all that and got to the hardware part, I ran into two major head scratchers due to lack of experience. The whole thing was properly frustrating, epic, and ultimately insanely gratifying.
Some may laugh (sizable?) but replacing the windshield washer tank on my ’03 Silverado. Involves removing battery, battery box, plastic rivets into the inner fender liner, and slithering on one’s back under the front end multiple times. Not fun for an arthritic 65 year old codger. Like many situations, YouTube can be your friend. The plastic tank itself looks like it grew up downwind from Chernobyl.
I can tell you what my NEXT project is going to be – trying to work out why my mini bogs as I get on the throttle. It’s running a Weber DCD 28/36, and as far as I can make out the accelartor pump is working correctlIyy. Once it picks up, it runs strong at any revs, it’s just the bogging as you get on the throttle. Timing seems about right, but because the engine internals are clearly non-standard, I don’t really have a starting reference point for carb or ignition settings and I rather feel like I’m flying blind. Going to go through some basics systematically, then have good hard think, I suppose.
Back in November 2014 when I lost my Triumph Trident to the deer, another member of the Virginia British Motorcycle Club gave me a 1983 Yamaha Venture Royale as a consolation. The good news is that it was all there, and stored in a dry barn – since 2003. The bad news is that he did absolutely nothing to prep the bike for storage. He just parked it, and didn’t even bother throwing a cover on it.
The bike has been sitting at my buddy’s motorcycle shop since December 2014, slowly being worked on in between the other customer’s bikes. Supposedly, he’s going to have the last of the mechanicals buttoned up by this coming Monday, so I can spend the day putting the rest of the bodywork back on it.
Game plan is to have it on the road by the end of the month. My first dresser.
I toured across USA on one in 1989. Wonderful machine, much more fun to ride compared to its Honda competitor. That said, at 26k miles, the valves MUST be adjusted. It is a very labor intensive procedure, and the shims are not always stocked, which stretches out tne project duration. Your engine will not run properly if you don’t have this maintenance completed.
Mileage is past that point (32k if my memory is correct) and the original owner was rather meticulous on maintenance, so I’m guessing it’s been done.
I look forward to finding out about your pronouncements on the fun factor. I’ve ridden 4 cylinder Gold Wings, mostly 1200s, and found them to be decent. I, however, loathe the 1500s. Two wheeled Buick LeSabres, at best.
Another great post as always, Jason. I confess to having a bit of an affinity for vans; I don’t currently have one but I like the utility and (generally) straightforward styling of them. I have found that the engine bays on the RWD ones are nearly untenable with A/C, but on the rare models without or where it has been removed, it often makes a big difference for accessibility. I also prefer window vans – on the one conversion van I had, all the conversion fitments were falling apart in a big way.
As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I try to farm out most of my more significant repairs. I prefer simpler, less stressful mechanical tasks now, like the front brake pads and power window motor/regulator that I did over the last couple days.
Had to replace the passenger mirror on my wife’s 2012 CR-V a few months ago. Didn’t have a service manual and there were no YouTube vids of this generation, so between seeing it done on older models and my experience removing door panels to replace the window motor of my 2000 Silverado twice in the five years I owned it, I managed to get it done. I hope the OEM-ish mirror I got from RockAuto holds up okay; it cost me a little over $50 and the dealer wanted a few hundred for OEM…
Bought a real clean and original ’87 Jetta GL last summer off the list of Craig. Got it for $700. It wouldn’t start but I suspected the fuel pump relay and brought a spare. It started right up and ran well so I drove it home. Almost no brakes, the “just need to be bled and the shoes are new but I didn’t hook up the parking brake” comment and the need to pump the brakes told me I had some work to do.
After I got home I noticed some positive camber of the right front wheel, took a look and saw a badly bent control arm (wishbone). And later noticed the drive axle was bent as well. Shit. Should have offered $500. Oh well, too late now. Found a new axle in town for $60.00, and a wishbone and ball joint for $30.00 on the internet. Not fun laying on my back with the car jacked up and it was hot as hell, so I took it apart one day, and put the new parts on a couple of days later. Every thing went smoothly, so now to the brakes.
When I pulled the drums only one side had been “replaced” by the knucklehead I bought it from. The left side shoes were on the right, half the springs were missing, the center bar was missing (!), and the wheel cylinders were leaking, the wheel bearings were toast as well. It was only another $40.00 for cylinders, shoes and wheel bearing kits. As I took things apart I also discovered the brake lines were stripped out when I removed the cylinders. So a trip to U Pull for a pair of brakes lines and the missing center bar and springs. Put the right side back together and now the drum won’t go on, the brakes are sticking out too far. At this point, I seemed to remember something about later MK2 Jetta’s getting larger rear brake shoes. Yep, pulled the brake bar from a ’91. Back to U pull. (30 mile each way trip, these cars are getting scarce in the bone yard these days), as the brake bar new is NLA. Found a 85 Golf that had the correct part. If you ever worked on rear drum brakes on one of these cars, you would think you died and had gone to hell. You need 3 hands to hook the parking brake cable, I have never found an easy way to do this. Changed out the brake lines, a quick trip to the machine shop to press in the wheel bearing races, and finally done, after getting a neighbor to work the brake pedal as I bled the system.
These are the joys of a $700 Craigslist 30 year old car. I found all the paperwork from new to 2012 from the original owner in the trunk. Always VW dealer serviced from the dealership in Bellevue WA. from new. So the last 3 years the car went through hell, but after I fixed these problems the car has run great, drives nice and looks really good with it’s fine condition original paint and interior. But I have to admit I came close to giving up, but after finishing up and driving to the tire shop for 2 new tires, I was glad I rescued it. After all, it’s just like the ’86 I also have that I owned since ’91, right down to the paint and interior color and still drive today.
I have a couple of family member interested in it, but they are put off because of the manual transmission. Amazing how many people are scared off by this in the shiftless times of today. Maybe I’ll just keep it for now, but really don’t need identical twins. Actually nowadays as little as I drive just the truck is all I really need.
Actually Jason, looks like you got 6 parts for $110, 5 hoses and an adapter. But I agree, hoses like this used to be exotic car or Vanagon waterboxer designs, not on a damn Econoline!
They probably don’t want to buy a 30 year old car without a new clutch which is an expensive and frustrating undertaking on today’s cars. I know I wouldn’t not knowing its condition. No longer a 3-4 hr job with $20.00 in parts, more like a $1,000 at a shop with over $700.00 of that in labor..
My niece had a new clutch and drive axles on her ’89 Jetta replaced 3 years ago at Clutch Masters down the street, it cost around $600. The clutch job alone was quoted at $400. Clutch on the ’87 is in good condition, works fine. The car was offered to them for what I have in it, $1000. I could easily sell the car for that or more, but it’s rare and in great shape so would like to keep it in the family.
They only want to drive automatics, since that’s all the driving school used. Learning to drive stick can be hard on even a new clutch (and transmission), especially if your a slow learner!
Fuel tank and fuel filter, oil cooler lines and fresh tranny fluid on my (FWD) ’92 Fleetwood. I had suspected I had the fuel tank issue–the plastic baffles in the tank crack and break causing a couple specific drivability problems–for some time and finally replaced the tank last week. Primed and painted the new tank (a spectra premium one from rockauto), ran the car as dry as I could, dropped the old tank, tried the new tank but was having some issues with fit, refit the old tank to see where things lined up, dropped that one again, refit the new tank a second time and then finally had success. Oh, and one of the fuel line “quick” disconnect fittings next to the tank was giving me lip and took about an hour off and on to finally remove. There was a LOT of spraying back and fourth between wd40 and brake cleaner to drive rust out of the connection while working the joint. Fuel filter replaced as well. Oil cooler lines were weeping so did those, did the “pop the cooler line off” trick to pump out old tranny fluid while pouring fresh in, fiddled with the final level a bit, rotated the tires and greased all zerk fittings while the wheels were off.
As much as I hated doing the timing belt on my ’87 Maxima, I would have preferred to do that job again over doing another gas tank. At least with the belt, you’re primarily upright.
Busy year so far:
– heater core in 220000 mile 96 Lincoln Town Car (dash removal) (5-6 hours I recall)
– engine swap in 250000 mile 90 Civic wagon (from SOHC 1.5L DPFI to DOHC 1.6L MPFI) (2.5 days with help)
– rear LCAs on the Chevelle
I have a van similar to yours but the stalker version (white, no windows, 97 E250 5.4L). I put a radiator and fan clutch in it a while back. Holds an amazing amount of coolant – 30 qts I think.. never gets hot – unless the fan clutch dies and then it gets so hot it pops the plastic radiator tank…
Oh god the Town Car heater core! Mr. X and I did the heater core in his ’97, and ours was that same 5-6 hours. Absolutely brutal job!
Front coilovers in my 2005 P71. Broke a front spring back in March (Thanks, Cleveland streets!!!), so I bought a pair of quick struts (aptly named… not) and went at it. What a freakin’ job! I’d gladly go the rest of my life without having to do THAT job again!!!
So there I was driving to work in my 2010 Porsche Cayman, shifting from 4th to 5th and all of a sudden the shifter goes floppy; no longer connected to the tranny. After pulling off to the side of the road, then coasting backward down a blind curve in the dark to get the car in an open spot (not fun), I call AAA and have it towed home. Looking on the internet to figure out what happened (thank God for the internet), it turns out one of the shifter cables had broken (common problem on Porsches). For laughs I call a Porsche dealer for a price on a new cable assembly. They quote ~$800 for the “new design” cable set. Now this is for 2 cables about 6 ft long with connectors at both ends (I think there is a slight markup). Further investigation showed I could get a set of performance shifter cables from Numeric Racing for only $445. After ordering them I get to work removing the existing shift cables. First one must remove the console (thank God for the internet). Then after the console is removed, one must remove the firewall access port (the Cayman has a mid engine with the transmission at the back so the cables run from the console thru the firewall, over the engine, and then to either side of the transmission). Then finally disconnect the cables from the transmission (2 hours to remove the snap-on cable connection!). Ok, that wasn’t bad; not! Once the new cables arrive I compare the two sets. The Numeric Racing ones are more robust with thicker cables and manly metal end connectors instead of wimpy plastic connectors like the original Porsche cables. So I install the new cables starting from the transmission over the engine, thru the firewall, and then finally to the shifter (thank God for the internet). Since I had the console out, painted it Guards Red (same color as the car). Total work time about 12 hours.
I hear you about the internet. Without the internet and specifically without YouTube, I probably wouldn’t have attempted half of things I’ve done!
I thought German cars were overengineered? Connectors breaking after 6 years of use? The mighty have sure fallen!
Actually the plastic connector did not break. The cable itself failed after only 35,000 miles.
Over-engineered? In some ways. Engineering a complex solution to a simple problem – yep. For example, the battery is in the front trunk (frunk). However the lid can only be opened from inside the car via a switch activating a solenoid. So what happens if the battery dies? You can’t open the frunk lid to get to the battery because there is no power to activate the lid solenoid! What one has to do is get another battery and using jumper cables connect the cables to two terminals Porsche located in the drivers side footwell to get power to the switch to activate the frunk solenoid lid to get to the dead battery!
In 1986 I tore down the engine in my ’68 Saab 96 V4 and took the parts to the machine shop. I ran into a time crunch and paid a shade tree mechanic to put it back together. I came to the conclusion that I like driving better than wrenching.
Earlier this year, valve seals on the 05 Silverado, took a little while to get familiar with the LS motor, I used to be able to assemble a first gen SB Chevy with my eyes closed.
Last year, total replacement of front suspension and brakes on the 87 Mercedes W124. Car spent its entire life in Georgia and Alabama. Not a single frozen/broken/rounded fastener. Never needed the fire wrench or the BFH. One of the most pleasant automotive DIY experiences of my life
I bought a 2001 Lincoln LS V8 for a couple hundred bucks. It was running rough and had a rattle when idling. A quick tour of the internet told me that the original chain tensioners on the secondary timing chains had failed, and the rattle was a sure sign of internal parts wanting their freedom. The chains had also probably skipped a tooth, accounting for the rough running. I ordered the new tensioners off the internet ($100) and waited two weeks until they arrived. The Jaguar V8 is really shoehorned into the Lincoln, especially on the driver’s side, but after about 8 hours work, it was buttoned back together and running great. The rattle at idle, however, did not totally disappear. This told me that the primary chain tensioner was also on its way out, and the clock was still ticking.
I couldn’t face pulling the front end of the Lincoln right after doing all that work. I put it up for sale, and a young kid paid me $1000 more than I paid for it.
The last time I did anything at all was a few years ago, when my Forester overheated. I popped the hood, noticed with some relief that it was simply a broken upper radiator hose and remembered that there used to be a time when various minor roadside repairs like this were a far more frequent occurence. So it was almost nostalgic to walk across the road to an auto parts store, get a hose and some clamps and antifreeze and replace the darn thing. I never get to do stuff like that anymore. When something breaks on a modern car, it’s usually not the kind of thing I can fix myself.
Bought a 191,000 mile 1995 F-150 beginning of May that needed shocks. Turned out that the shock mount towers were rusted through and one of the coil springs was broken near the top. After several hours of bashing old rivets off with a chisel and “engineer’s mallet,” finally got all that sorted.
I’m currently chasing the slop in the steering on my 193,000 mile ’95 F-150. I had the ball joints done and bearings repacked, since they revealed they were much more worn than they looked at about hour 4 of a 6-hour drive.
About three weeks ago, I changed the steering gear box and Pitman arm. Monday, I replaced all the tie rod ends, including the one that also functions as the drag link. So now, it’s better-only about 2 inches of slop in the wheel now. It’s looking like a rag joint or intermediate shaft is next. I can’t actually see the slop in the shaft when Mr. X turns the wheel, but I’m all out of ideas.
This all has been a very worthwhile experience, I will say, as now I know what I need to do to tackle the unsafe-at-any-speed slop in my Thunderbird’s steering. And, my philosophy on buying cheap used vehicles (paid $1,500 for the truck) held true yet again: They’re selling it for a reason. If it seems to drive well, engine or trans are on their way out. If it runs and shifts good but drives badly, that’s a winner because it’s easier to change steering and suspension bits than engines or transmissions. Wear from age, I find, is better than damage from abuse.
Actually deciding if I want to muster up the courage to replace the pads and rotors on the Outback. If normal time is 45 minutes a wheel, x 2.25 for me.
I do find it odd that with only 65k miles that Subaru recommends replacing the rotors…
Two recent jobs qualify in my garage. I pulled the TH 350 from the Buick, and did the refit. I’m not game to tackle trans rebuilds myself, so that went to a local shop.
Lavish soaking of every fastener with Inox made it an easy job.
Other job was a new starter in Anne’s Peugeot 306. What a PITA that was . The TH 350 R&R took less time, less skinned knuckles,less beers, and much less swearing.
My biggest endeavor to date came a year and a half ago, did an engine/trans swap on my wife’s ’98 Lumina LTZ. The 210k 3800 SII decided it had enough of a lifter and ate it for lunch and spread metal through the engine. Given the body and other parts of the car were in good enough shape, and having most of the tools/knowledge, I went ahead and saved the car rather than sending it to the boneyard. Besides the obvious engine issue… the last year or so the trans was acting a bit wonky when hot. Obtained a boneyard engine and trans and freshened them up before dropping them in. The engine (yanked from an ’01 Impala with 94k) and trans (from a ’98 Z34 Monte Carlo with 104k) got a freshening up – new gaskets/seals for the engine, new 4th hub, TransGo shift kit for the trans, and while the engine/trans was out, I also rebuilt the air conditioning system. Probably dropped just over a grand on it plus some tools I wound up needing, but the car is still running strong a year later, even though it took me several months working on it during limited free time. She’s happy with it and I’m glad she’s one who doesn’t demand having a nearly new car. Only thing the car could use now is a set of tires by winter.
Presently, and so far the biggest job of this year… my ’90 Celebrity wagon is under the knife – it failed inspection this month, citing cracked brake hoses and worn ball joints. Mostly inexpensive fixes given I do my own wrenching. I tore into it today…got the brake hoses done without incident. As for the alleged bad ball joints, it’s actually the control arm bushings which are shot which makes it look like the balljoint has excessive play when a pry bar is applied. Surprisingly, the control arm to subframe bolts came out without any fuss, and I have the arms pulled, old bushings removed, and new bushings ordered…since here in the DC metro area, if you need parts for something older locally, chances are you’ll be in luck if it’s Japanese, but if you have an old GM, you’re stuck waiting for them to arrive after special-ordering.