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Big Problems, Small Solutions
Posted by Brooklyn_Paul [Email] (more from Brooklyn_Paul) on Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:24:02
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For once, I'm not posting about a problem I have. This is just an observation.

Sometimes, the biggest problems have very small solutions. They're usually forehead-slappingly obvious after you find them, but can be quite galling until you do.

1) I posted about my car dying repeatedly on a 50 mile ride home one night. I had much speculation about fuel pump defects, things popping loose inside the tank, bad computers. It first happened on the day I tried cleaning up the main ground point, by the radiator. I revisited the ground point, went to town on it, restripped any suspect wires and attached them firmly to some new pigtails on gold-plated terminals. Problem gone, and I didn't have to get covered with gas.

2) I found a trace of water emulsion on my dipstick, got in a lather over whether it was freeze damage due to poor antifreeze concentration, changed the oil to see whether there was coolant in the oil and found an ounce or two of thick, water-containing sludge in the drain pan. Simple answer: I apparently had neglected to change the oil for over a year!

3) Coolant was mysteriously pouring out all over the front left quadrant of the engine compartment. The whole engine looked dry, but the air cleaner, inside of the hood and the left light clusters would be drenched. The reservoir would be empty, but not much more than that was missing. And the leak was nowhere in sight. I couldn't even figure what was on that side of the engine that could be leaking that much. It turned out to be a pinhole, practically invisible, in the upper heater hose, that was squirting like a water gun clear across the engine without getting a drop on it. Just needed a new hose.

4) Brings to mind my second Saab, a 96V4 I bought as a project from a junkyard some 40 years ago. The engine was dismantled, with the heads and everything attached to them strewn around the trunk and the back seat. Oddly, every single nut and bolt was present. Even the gaskets. And there was sand all over the block and pistons. I think I paid $100 for the car. I remember pulling out the engine and washing all the sand off everything with a paint sprayer and some solvent. I put it all back together. Somewhere in there, I had contacted the previous owner to ask the poor guy what happened to his car. Man was he angry. He had tried to find his overheating problem. Had changed the head gaskets, taken everything apart and put it back together TWICE, and it still overheated. It overheated for me, too, but I found the problem. The lower radiator hose had been replaced with a universal corrugated type hose. The required bend radius was beyond the hose's operational limit. That is, it was crimped like a folded garden hose! I never called the guy back to tell him.

5) Today's little discovery. It started in the last couple weeks, and has been getting worse and worse, a shimmy feeding back into the steering wheel. Today it was positively violent. I started mentally calculating the cost my local shop would want to change the ball joints and re-align everything. I had jacked up both front wheels a week ago to see if I could see if something was bent. One tire seemed maybe a little out of round, but I couldn't see anything else. Certainly, not enough to cause a shimmy? Yeah, it was. I just swapped the back tire on that side with the front, and the problem is entirely gone!

6) Speaking of bent hoses... The car I'm driving now? I bought that about 10 years ago, barely running, and frequently dying, for $450. Replaced the air mass meter. Nothing. Replaced the computer. Nothing. Replaced the ignition computer. Nothing. Oxygen sensor. Nothing. It was the rubber boot that attaches the air mass meter to the intake body. On the bottom, just out of sight, the lip had been folded over where it was clamped, creating an opening, small but deadly to the running of the car. Bought a new used boot on eBay, and car has run like a champ ever since, when it wasn't dying from other things.

And the moral is, don't spend a lot of money until you check the little stuff.

posted by 104.162.12...

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