Sunday, July 09, 2006


Did $500 worth of auto maintenance in the last week.

  • New headlights (not the bulbs, the whole assembly) to replace the faded and cracked pair, which would flop around every time I hit a bump. That really classes up the car. Makes it look years younger- not a day over 4. $220 for the pair, complete with bulbs (nice touch, Motorcraft!).

  • New driver side sun visor to replace the one that cracked one cold winter morning. Plastic! Of course, before even getting the thing installed, I managed to tear the fabric. Rage! ($50!)

  • Cleaned a little servo motor that has been the bane of my driving existance since the car was a year old. Smooth!

  • And the big dog: New alternator to replaced the cracked and non-alternating factory one. Slightly disappointed in the performance of the Ford on this one. It's one thing for it to wear out, but the case actally cracked on this one. Anyway, it was a terrifying job. 8 hours. And the thing was only held on by three bolts, one of which was fairly easy. For the other two, I endured knuckle cracking, back contorting and butt scraping from dragging myself under the car. For example: I had to cram my hand in between the oil pan, a motor mount and the exhaust pipe to get the wrench on the bolt, and then to loosen it, jam another wrench onto the existing one and shove. For the other bolt, I had to lay on top of the engine, shove my arms between the motor and the firewall and take aloose the bolt one click of the rachet at a time. Say, 10 degrees of spin per rachet pull? Half an hour of that. I finally get the thing off, and now I have to remove the pulley from the old one and put it on the new one. I actually fell into a pile of tools trying to remove it. That hurt a little. Then I took it to Pep Boys, and they got it off with one 'vritt' of the impact wrench. From there is was downhill sailing. And it appears to be functioning. The car also seems faster, almost as if the broken one was adding significant drag to the engine. Oh well, I saved myself $500 worth of labor charges. And shortened my life by six months!

    Yet to do:

  • Replace the front license plate holder that I tore off while climbing onto the engine. That also hurt.

  • Replace the goddamned burnt out dashboard light. It drives me nuts that it will take an hour of my life to replace a $2 part. I pulled the dash today. Very easy. Sadly, the bulbs that the manual says are correct aren't. But I moved a bulb fom an unused indicator light (no traction control) to the burnt one and successfully brightened the dim area. Buckets of ragingly, now another one is out.

  • Fanbelt tensioner that I found to be loose, in the process.

  • A tie rod that appeared loose. Sloppy steering!

    I'm not complaining- I enjoy doing these things, and it's theraputic to have something to show for an effort expended. And it's even nicer to have a little scratch to throw around that I'm not spending on new cars or expensive mechanics.


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