Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who was I again? **Update**

I know, don't post for a long while, then 2 in an hour or so...

There was a time, awhile ago (awhile measured in decades...) that I was mechanical.  Not my body, but my profession and my personal lifestyle.  I did, among other things, a lot of my own work on my vehicles.  It was helped along by the fact that my friends also did most of their own work on their cars and houses an anything else that broke.

I remember a really fun (and I do really mean fun) evening where I went to a friend's house in my '86(?) Toyota truck that had an issue with sometimes starting, sometimes just clicking because the starter had some issue.  It was to be a simple procedure, pull off the starter, go to the parts store, buy a rebuilt one and reinstall it.  However, we took too long and the store was closed.  This friend didn't want the hassle of reinstalling a bad starter just to have to redo it all again some other time, so we did the most obvious thing:  we rebuilt the old one.  Upon taking the starter apart, one of the contacts was worn away.  So we went to the hardware store looking for something brass to fabricate a new right-angle contact.  Found a brass fitting the right thickness (originally starting life in the plumbing section), went home and he made good use of his dremmel (spell check wants to change the spelling of that to 'remodel') tools and fashioned a new contact that was better than the original stock one.  By 9 or 10pm I had a working truck, and that starter was still working fine when I traded in the truck 10 years later.

All that to say, I feel terribly guilty, as if I'm letting the fellowship down if/when I use a paid-for mechanic to do simple things.  Like oil changes.  Especially oil changes.  I've had 3 Toyota trucks starting with that one in '86 (or '84, I really can't remember, sadly).  I was taught that when shopping for a new vehicle, the first or at least second thing to look for is the oil filter to make sure you don't have to pull the engine in order to do an oil change.  Not really an issue as the original Toyota trucks (as opposed to, say, the ones they make now) were made for real people to drive.  The other thing that goes without saying, which is why the oil filter placement is 1st, is that it is a manual stick shift transmission.

Enter the Jeep I bought in 2008.  It had a 5 year/100K miles warranty.  It spent 2.5 of those years in storage when I was in Honduras.  Working on it hasn't been really an issue as it only has 65K miles on it even today.  I ran out of the 5 years, though.  No reason to have a dealership do the simple stuff like oil changes anymore.  The last time I had the oil change done, I was ready to be again upset with a dealership.  They probably didn't really do anything wrong, but I felt the guilt and shame of turning Yuppie (ok the Y for young really doesn't apply anymore) when I handed over the keys to the intake guy.

It is time for an oil change again.  Also, my 'new' Jeep is starting to have some minor issues.  The kind of things that a dealership can end up shaking their head and turn a $50 issue into multiple thousands of dollars, at least in my head.  So, simple solution, I do the oil change myself again and while I'm at it I look at YouTube videos on the issues the Jeep is having and at least go into the dealership being knowledgeable about the issues and the condition of my own Jeep.

Except...  for 2 months I've been afraid to pop the hood.  It started when I glanced at it and realized I've owned the Jeep for 6 years and never opened the hood.  What?  Me?  I then got concerned about all kinds of silly things, the unknown and all.  The Jeep is quite a bit larger than my previous trucks.  And so on.  For 2 months I've looked at the Jeep and backed away.

Today, sweaty and no water and the temperature tolerable I confronted my fears.  I popped the hood.  I was glad to find a secondary latch holding the hood backing up the rubber clasps that I was afraid was all that was between me and the hood flying up as I drove down the road.  Took me awhile to figure out how to do the prop so that it was anchored and not just vaguely holding up the weight of the hood.  I had to climb up on the front bumper to look at the engine.  Then I had to find the dipstick.  Luckily, the Jeep isn't using oil, and isn't ready for another quart yet.  I slid under the Jeep and don't see any obvious leaks of anything, and found the oil filter right where it should be and easy to get to.

Progress.  I may or may not actually do this oil change.  But I at least know what is under the hood now.

The water came on around 10am.  I showered, then watched some YouTube videos.  Also remembered what started all this was that I ran out of windshield washer fluid.  I had a wonderful dealership in Olympia, WA that did everything but hug and kiss me on the way out when I took the Jeep to them for service.  Oil, filters, fluids, and they washed and vacuumed it for me without costing half my paycheck.  While I was in Honduras my Uncle had the servicing done for me at the dealership in Platte City, MO, and they were great.  I'm assuming they, but it might have been my Uncle, did all of the above.  When I went into the dealership here, I was upset that even though I had an appointment, and was there early, they said it would be a couple of hours before they worked on it as there were others before me.  I said What???  I had the first appointment!  And I'm early!  So they put me in the express line, which might mean nothing but the oil gets filled/changed.

So, I showered, then watched the videos.  I checked out the engine air intake filter, and vacuumed out the housing.  I'll change the filter when I get a new one, and I now know what it looks like.  I'll also worry about that darned 4th clip on the housing at that time.  3 will work ok till then.

I filled the washer fluid resevior.  That darned bottle of fluid won't be rolling around on the passenger floor anymore as it has for the past 2 months.

I see which kind of filter is on the blower motor.  I also see that there isn't a filter on the air that goes to the blower when it comes from the inside of the passenger compartment, so that isn't what is the issue with the intermittent cold air from the air compressor.

I'm adding hand cleaner to the list of stuff to get.  And remembering why I had so many stained tshirts back then.

It's 11:30 and I'm sweaty again.  Enough knowledge for one day.


  1. I quit doing my own oil changes when Wal-Mart started doing a full oil change, lube the joints, check the transmission, rear end and everything else, got rid of the old oil and filter, aired the tires etc for $10 more than the parts for the oil change would have cost.

  2. Good for you! Knowing what's under the hood of the vehicle you are driving is important if you hit an armadillo in the middle of nowhere and have to replace the oil filter so you can get home. And like Barney I let someone else change the oil, cause I'm not as young as I use to be.

    I kind of like 2 posts in as many hours. ;>)

  3. You did "WHAT"? You're gonna change the oil? Boy howdy do I got some jobs for you.

  4. I, also, have a Jeep. Bought it new and it has been a great vehicle. The four wheel drive works great and when it is being towed behind the motorhome, all I have to do is put the transfer case in neutral and unlock the steering wheel. Forgot the steering wheel part one time and ruined two new front tires.

  5. DD:
    I had a key made just to use for the doors and to use to unlock the steering wheel when I towed it out to WA. It didn't have the padded fob part, which meant that it didn't have the chip. Came home from Honduras the first time and Mom handed me that key, which I had forgotten all about the specifics, and couldn't get the Jeep started for the life of me. My Uncle had to go to the storage unit with his key and get it for me. Figured it out then. sigh. Got kidded a lot about forgetting how to start my Jeep.

  6. There are a lot of things I do myself as I hate to pay someone else to do them, but working on motor vehicles isn't one of them. A good mechanic is worth his weight in gold, and I'm lucky to have one of the best.

  7. Wow, I have a new found admiration for you girl!

    I would have never known how to open my hood if it wasn't for the customs officer who asked me to open the hood for inspection on a trip back from Mexico.

    Told him I had no idea how to open it. Is this not your vehicle he inquired as his eyebrow went up.

    Yes Sir, it is but since I know nothing about a vehicle why open it? I just call Triple A...his eyebrow went down and he proceeded to show me how to pop the hood :D

    It is always good to know a little about cars, it is even better to know a lot as in your case.

  8. Are you staying dry? Perhaps you got out of town just in time to avoid the flood.

    Hope all is well!

  9. There is nothing wrong with repairing your own car, especially if the fix is a minor one. But if things are beyond your capabilities, it’s better to bring it to the shop rather than risk it. Anyway, that day must have been exhausting for you. It was a good thing that it ended well, both for you and your car.

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company