Cars are fun, but can be a pain

It’s been an ugly couple of weeks for the daily drivers. It started with a burned out dash bulb on my wife’s van so you couldn’t see the speedometer when dark. That ended up being either a wrecking yard or dealer item since the parts stores don’t carry that style. Next was a headlight in my point-car commuter. Neither were much of a big deal but we’re just getting started.

I then received a call from my wife while I was at work saying that the van won’t start. Sure enough, RRrr-click, click. Excellent, a battery. I guess it was about time for one based on the age. I put the battery in and guess what… RRrr-click, click. Ouch, a starter. Fortunately, the starter was only “mostly dead” and it would occasionally engage and start. At least I was able to get it into the shop where it was dry for replacement.

The best was yesterday. On my way to work in the point-car, cruising along on the freeway and the car dies for no apparent reason. Hmm, that doesn’t make sense. Ok, try to start it. Whir, whir, spin, spin. That doesn’t sound right. The last time I heard that sound was when the timing belt broke about 10-15k miles ago. Engine spins without the normal RrRrRrR  sounds. Ok, call in the wrecker, I guess I know what I’m doing for the rest of the day.

The driver was very good and backed the car into the shop on the first try while weaving through my curved driveway. Getting down to work, the timing belt cover comes off and sure enough, it isn’t broken. Huh? Try the starter again and everything spins, valves are springing, just as it all should. Still there is that funny sound. Some more investigation reveals that the timing belt slipped a couple teeth so no compression. Grr, I did this job 18months ago. Oh well. The culprit seems to have been a belt tensioner that gave up allowing the belt to slip. A new belt and tensioner are installed and I’m back on the road.

After that was done, I got a call that night to help my father-in-law do a brake job on his Dodge 2500 truck. He couldn’t get the lug nuts loose. Ok, no problem, bring it by, no problem. Well, the last shop to put the wheels on seemed to think that 200-250lbs of torque is required to hold the lugs on. Before I got smart and stood/bounced on the 20″ breaker bar, it took all I had to lift by hand and break the nuts loose. I think I was on the edge of injury too. We got all of one wheel loose and 6 of 8 nuts loose on the other side when my air socket cracked. Why do those they let those guys use an air wrench if they don’t know how to use it. Why not just weld the nuts on.

A semi-quick trip to get another socket and we were able to get all the rest off. Dripping with sweat and very tired, we finished about 10pm. Today I’m sore and not working in the shop. Hopefully the cars work for a while without the need of any major repairs. I wish I made shop rates. 

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