2018 has been a terrible year for our vehicles.
- W8 Passat hit a pothole and ripped the bottom of the engine out. It’s still sitting in the lot at Tom Wood. May have to look at seeing if I can install a 1.8T into it, providing it can mate to the transmission and 4 motion in an acceptably working fashion. I can probably eek more power out of a 1.8T anyways, and I believe it’ll be more reliable and less expensive to maintain.
- Next came the BMW X5, with the 4.4l, that I bought from GT Autosports in Westfield, with “123,xxx” miles on the car. When I received the title weeks later, I realized the car had the mileage not only rolled back once, but twice. It has been plagued with transmission issues, that I have dealt with until it broke the timing chain a month ago. It’s sitting in a half tore down state, and appears the VANOS system on the drivers side bank came apart and tore the chain up. It’ll be a hefty bit to get it on the road again, I’m sure, as it will need both the VANOS systems rebuilt, the timing chain replaced, and that is only after I have the ability to check to see if we didn’t trash the pistons or valves when the chain broke. I’m assuming it is the original timing chain, and with the roll backs, it likely has close to 225k-250k miles on it. Not happy with that, as I was told the car has 123k miles on it when I purchased.
- Recently scrapped the Tahoe, it was enough to pay for the designated summer car, which was needed when I realized the BMW was going to be down.
- Summer car, I found a 1999 VW Golf GL Coupe (as a coupe, it’s basically a Rabbit). It has the AEG 2.0, and a 5 Speed Manual. I bought it running/driving, but would shut down after 10 minutes of driving until cool, when it would start right back up again. I’ve had enough AEG based engines to know that is a Crank Position Sensor going bad (~$100 from Autozone, $35 from Amazon). I replaced the CPS, and all was good, until I found the 10mm socket the previous owner dropped into the timing belt cover, which chewed the belt basically 1/2 as wide. In replacing the timing belt, I didn’t pay enough attention to the crank bolt torque. When I started the car the next time, it ran for about 30 seconds until the crank bolt came loose, slamming the valves into the pistons, which of course bent the valves. I’ve got another head sitting herewith good valves, and a top end gasket set, I just haven’t had the time to deal with it, between life, and um, life. It’ll also need a water manifold, as it broke during removal, and there is a vacuum hose port that broke off the intake runner after the MAFS.
- Porsche 1 & Porsche 2 remain down, haven’t had a chance to look at either of them as well.
- Finally, the GTI, the one reliable car we have. Last brake change, the pad with the sensor broke the wire, so we have the brake light on. Jennifer apparently hit a parking block, and ever since, we have had the check antifreeze light on, and no matter how much we add to the bottle, it still drops to the bottom of the bottle, with the light coming back on. The A/C doesn’t seem as cold as well, so I am sure there is something going on there.
Luck needs to change this summer…
Sometimes, life just stinks, and occasionally, it really sucks. If you cry easy on stories of loosing a pet, you probably want to skip this post, or grab a box of Kleenex.
Tonight I sat with my Love, Jennifer, while she held Sophie, for the last time. Sophie was there with Jennifer for the last 14 years, through the good times, and the bad. During this time, Sophie showed her unconditional love and friendship to Jennifer, and helped her through every life event. She truly has been Jennifer’s best friend.
It is with great sorrow, that after Sophie’s 6 week battle with Parkenson’s, the roles flipped, and Jennifer had to be there as both a friend, and a voice for Sophie, and make the hardest decision she has ever had to make, to have Sophie’s vetrenarian come to the house for the last time. Jennifer saw Sophie suffering, and was there to be Sophie’s best friend, and held Sophie in her arms until the end, giving her kisses and telling her that she loved her, while she sobbed. Having been through other pet losses, I sat with and held Jennifer, trying my best to help her.
We now have a new Pagoda Dogwood in the yard, with Sophie layed to rest under it’s soon to be white flowers, and I can believe, in my mind, that there is no better spot for her. I believe if Sophie was running around the yard on a hot day, she would pick the shade of this new tree to rest under. It will also be a nice place for reflection for Jennifer.
Please say a prayer for my wife tonight as she morns the loss of her best friend. I know I have large shoes (tiny paws?) to fill, but I will do my best to fill that role now.
Our current Pope, Pope Frances, states in Laudato Si’, “Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all“.
I know, with the loss of such a wonderful friend, comes great grief. I am fortunate to know, by Pope Frances’ words, that Sophie will be in Heaven, playing ball, chewing on rawhides, and barking at shadows. Sophie, please know we miss you and love you, and rest easy knowing that one day you’ll see your Mommie again.
I hate potholes…
That’s all for tonight, I’m tired..[Update: 3/3/2018 – tj]
Ugh, it’s been quite an evening. Let’s just say I’m tired of potholes. Both the kind that craters the road, and the kind that are the crew down on the other corner of the block, remodeling a little house. One of those “potholes” tonight . , and his wife, were flipped out, tried to block me into the road with their vehicles, got into a screaming match with my car doors (and my car windows), “something about their dog died” and “I’m an asshole and looked like I was going to run a yield sign” – someone please explain that one to me. When he noticed I had my hand on a baseball bat on my front seat (with my thoughts of how to swing a baseball bat inside my car to protect myself). Those of you who know me would understand that I try my best to not escalate things, but when he told me he was going to go to his truck and get his gun and shoot me, I realized this was not a situation that will calm. You can tell he was wigged out on something. So, when that pothole started making these declarations, I did the right thing, threw my car in reverse, and backed up the 4 houses to get to my house, and called 911. The wife decided it would be prudent to follow me home, and get out of her car, onto my property, and cuss me out royally, bang on the window, and kick the side of my rental car.
I wanted to drop you guys a quick update on all things with cars, my health, and some general quips, and maybe a quick review of the 2017 Nissan Altima, that I currently have as a rental car.
No, I’m not talking about those people who start crap with you after toking it up, but rather the artillery craters that cover just about any road in Indiana. They are bad, please be careful around them. We’ve experienced significant car damage (possibly seized motor in the W8 – which is likely a total loss, and 7 flat tires). [Edit: Be sure to read a later post on 3/1 that talks about the other type of toking potholes.]
Starting out with my health, I had impact testing last week, and failed it miserably, in respect to both my reaction time, and my visual and verbal memories. I am extremely disappointed with these tests, which could likely keep me off the track this spring. Also had a balance assessment with The Balance Point, that showed that I have balance issues that need to be addressed with vestibule rehab therapy. In top of all of this, I’ve been asked by the state to go to 2 appointments in regards to my current health, one last Saturday and one again on Monday of this week. I’m tired of being stuck for shots, stuck for blood draws, poked, prodded, cold water poured into my ear, etc.
The basics is, I am dealing with either post-concussive syndrome, or more likely, with 50-70 concussions over the years (with a good mix of bumping my head, getting hit in the head, and explosive blasts) likely CTE. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. This includes concussions received from being too close to an explosive blast.
Post-concussive syndrome, is something that can heal, even though it may take a long time to do so. CTE is degenerative, and really there is nothing they can do, or even test for without a post-mortem exam of my brain.
2003 VW Passat W8:
My Passat is back in the shop as of about a week ago. Returning from a trip in mid-southern Indiana (Columbus, Seymour, etc.) the “STOP, Loss of Oil Pressure” light came on. I immediately pulled off on the Greenwood Main Street Exit, and pulled over. There was oil still on the dipstick, but the motor showed as if it were locked from starting by a low oil pressure switch, or some other relay that wouldn’t allow for the car to start. It was towed to Tom Wood VW at 146th Street, and they are going to have to diagnose the non-start condition and show it was part of the issue that happened with I hit the pot hole on 1/12/18 (see: Early February Update for more info). What is known, from the “crash” (insurance is calling this a crash), the bottom of the engine hit the ground so hard, 3 tires were flatted, the oil pan and the oil cooler had big gauges in it, the belly pan is destroyed, and I’m sure many other issues still yet to find. Currently, the car is at Tom Wood, State Farm has not paid them as of yet, and once Tom Wood is paid, they will start an engine tear down to find the cause of the loss of oil pressure. If it is due to to the crash, they will likely total the car, as replacing the engine is likely more than the cost of the car. If this is not due to the engine, it is my problem. I truly thing it is related to the pothole issue, so we’ll see. So, my question to you is what German wagon, preferably manual and all wheel drive, should I be looking at? It has to be in the sub-$5k category (age is less important than the shape of the car – but for example sake, I currently have a 2003 VW Passat W8, which is actually a very luxury wagon especially from VW and for a 2003. It has electric everything, a 8 cylinder engine (W8), dual gas tanks capable of 500 highway miles without filling up, and a host of other goodies. I’m partial to my VW, and would love to find an VW TDI Stick-Shift Wagon, but an Audi wagon fits well, as well as a BMW wagon and a diesel or gas Mercedes. Let me know your thoughts on what car I should look into next, if and when State Farm decides total the W8.
Played around with the P car for a few hours this week. Motor turns over on ether, and will start (ever so briefly), with a jumper box on the fuel pump and one on the coil. Both the D and the B sensors are missing ($45-$50 for both), and I believe replacing these will fix the issue, and the car will start right up. Once I know it’s going to run well, there are plenty of other little things that need to be bolted back together to be road ready. Heck, depending oh how well this runs, I might use it as a daily driver for a bit…
I just also ended up with a 924 found sitting in some weeds in Argos. I figure this car will have many of the interior bits and pieces I will need for the 944, and the price was so inexpensive, if it has 2 working B and D sensors that I can use in my 944, I’ve made money on the deal… This has the potential of being stripped bare and becoming a track car for someone… More on this soon, as I need to work on getting this picked up and back to here, but you can check out the car more on the Porsche 924 page.
Most of you that know me knows that anytime you see me, I’m basically a model for LL Bean. Yesterday, I was wearing my LL Bean boots, flannel lined jeans, long sleeve Cresta (marino) Wool shirt and a flannel shirt, all purchased from LL Bean. I’ve had the boots for over 30 years, and every few years they are sent back to LL Bean to be resoled, keeping the leather uppers that are as soft as a baby’s butt. The flannel lined jeans, have been returned a couple times for various issues, and I can admit, I have many other LL Bean clothing that has been returned for various purposes.
I’ve still have a pair of LL Bean Camp Mocs that my mom purchased for me in middle school. I love these slip on shoes. Over the years, they have been returned 6-7 times, when the soles wear out, stitching came out, or other various issues. Once in middle school, my mother made me return them, do to the fact I had drawn all over them with an ink pen, with various music group logos that I listened to – in the late 80s, I was listening to lots of Grateful Dead, as well as good late 70s, early 80s punk (Sex Pistols, Ramones, Clash, Dead Kennedys, Blondie, Susie and the Banshees, Buzzcocks). Well, you know what LL Bean said? Nothing! They exchanged the shoes, no questions asked.
I may be somewhere near the line for what is ethically OK for utilizing LL Beans No Questions Asked Guarantee. Ok, Ok, I may have been a little over the line with the LL Bean Camp Mocs though…
I just heard a great podcast about the actual abuses of what LL Bean calls “The Guarantee”. You can hear it at: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/591/get-your-moneys-worth/act-two What I do doesn’t even approach the level of abuses that actually happen. They mention the fact that as soon as turkey hunting is over, the flood of returns for turkey hunting gear comes in. During the Phish show there last year, many, many people came into the store, bought camping gear and such for the Phish weekend, in which they had extreme rain for the entire weekend. The Sunday and Monday after the Phish weekend, a deluge of muddy, wet camping gear came back for returns, and with The Guarantee, all the equipment was returned for cash. People return their deceased spouses clothing, some even return items to get cash back to use to pay utilities.
These abuses apparently are worst than most can imagine – people even buy clothing at Goodwill and return it for cash. The Guarantee, which has been in place since 1912, is not sustainable in today’s time. Anyone can see that, especially when someone goes to Goodwill, buys shirts and pants, and returns them for credit or new merchandise. LL Bean saw it as well, and today, this morning, they have changed their policy that they will only accept returns, and only with proof of purchase, for a period of 1 year. They additionally outlined several circumstances they will refuse returns, which include previous abuse of The Guarantee (lifetime) in the past. It should be interesting to watch how LL Bean will fare with a new policy, as many people purchased items, knowing they were covered by The (100% satisfaction) Guarantee. Though I have no ill will towards the change, I’m sure there will be some backlash from the general public that purchases LL Bean gear, knowing it is the best, and covered by The (best) Guarantee.
<a href=”https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/09/584493046/l-l-bean-scraps-legendary-lifetime-return-policy”>LL Bean Scraps Legendary Lifetime return Policy</a>
From: L.L.Bean [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, February 9, 2018 9:17 AM
Subject: A Letter to Our Customers
As I mentioned the other day, I had to replace a frozen rear caliper on the W8. Anytime you open the brake system from “down under”, you will be introducing air into the system. Air tends to compress quite a bit more than brake fluid, which means you’ll be able to push the pedal to the floor, and still not stop. The fix? You have to bleed the brakes, which is a procedure that will remove air from these lines. Additionally, if you wanted to flush the brake fluid (for track day, or as part of your regular car PMCS schedule) you would essentially be doing the same thing. It took about 2 hours of painful stupidity on my part, and patience on my lovely wife’s part, trying to bleed them the conventional way, before I remembered how easy power bleeders complete the job. When I couldn’t find my power bleeder, I hopped on over to one of our local mechanics.
With my VW Passat W8 (or most any other VW or ABS equipped car), one MUST use a pressurized brake bleeder to pressurize the brake system. Using a MityVac Power Bleeder or a Motive Power Bleeder, these systems will pressurize your fluid reservoir to about 15-25 ft. # to push fluid through the ABS system. Without a power bleeder, all you’ll see is the bottom of the car, while opening and closing the caliper bleed screw, while yelling “pump and hold” to a person in your car.
The bonus is, when you use one of these, you do not have to have a second person in the car pumping the brakes…
I have no idea where my MityVac is, so I finally decided to enliste the help of a great mechanic here locally, Steve Newnam, at Anything Mechanical in Westfield. I’ve known him for about 28 years, he actually rebuilt my first Rabbit’s engine back in 1988 or 1989, and has always been my go-to for non-dealer related maintenance or repairs.
He was able to get me right in, and was able to quickly fix the issue within about an hour. This is not really a “commercial” for Steve, but here’s his contact info, if you wanted to use him for your service:
17922 Springmill Rd
Westfield, IN 46074
And, by all means, get yourself a MityVac or a Motive Power Bleeder. I haven’t messed with bleeding brakes in quite some time, but if I can’t find my power bleeder, I’ll end up getting another, and I promise I’ll have the best feeling brakes on my whole block…
Godzilla was completely misunderstood. I believe someone originally accidentally played the film backwards, and it shows Godzilla brings death and destruction. This allowed for it to become a horror movie. All this, because someone was too lazy to re-spool the movie in the correct order.
If you watch Godzilla backwards (in the correct order), it’s about a nice lizard who builds a city and moon walks into the ocean.
Fire up your seat warmers, set the defrost to hot, and be sure to turn on the mirror heaters. Mirror heaters you say? Yep, many of the VW’s have heated mirrors. You access them through the mirror adjusting switch. Check yours out, if you have a defrost symbol on the switch, you have them. Even if you don’t have the extra switch, some are controlled by the rear window heater switch. So fire them up, and have a read below…
It’s early February, the Whistlepig Phil saw his shadow, and though we had some nice days in January, it’s going to be typical winter here in central Indiana for at least the next 6 weeks, at least according to the little cranky little rodent (and the cranky little TJ). Is that a surprise? It shouldn’t be, as this is the way February ALWAYS is in central Indiana – at least save for that spell about 5 years ago in which we had a string of 80+ days in late February and Early March, which brought the lake temps up enough to swim, ON MARCH 14… I don’t see that happening this year though…
I’ve started speech therapy for both my speech patterns and my memory, relating to issues from the concussion, with hopes that speech therapy will help with my issue of pausing for an indefinite time to “search” for the right word in the mush that is my brain, post fall. Additionally, they feel speech therapy does have a way of helping to build new neuropathways in my pre-frontal cortex, helping the executive decision making, and my short term memory issues.
I also start vestibular rehab on Friday, to help my body to not feel like constant vertigo, or the constant “fog” that my brain feels like. Also this morning, I actually saw the doctor who is quarterbacking all this complex stuff with the other doctors, and he felt that I’m still status quo as far as healing my brain and my brachial plexus injury – even with being 6 months since I fell and bumped my head. He’s even cleared me to start physical therapy again for my back and shoulder (but not my neck/brachial plexus). After the steroid shot in my rotator cuff last month, I have noticed an increase in range of motion. Now it’s time to test that in a PT environment.
Well, I don’t know if I mentioned last time, but the Passat was involved in quite an accident with a pothole. Flatted 3 tires, ripped my oil pan apart, among other things. I’ve got it back, but found it needed back brakes something fierce. It’s currently sitting in the driveway with the back off the ground, waiting for the paint on the new calipers to dry. Yes, I painted the rear calipers – I wanted them to match the rest of the car’s brakes. Hopefully I can finish that later today before the next round of “ick” starts falling from the sky.
I also need to sort through a cylinder 4 misfire on the wife’s GTI – which seems more like a coil pack gone bad. I just need to swap cylinder 4 for cylinder 3 and make sure the misfire follows the coil pack. Unfortunately, they are under warranty, so a coil pack issue won’t be dissapointing.
What else? Let’s see, the BMW is gone, off to Kokomo with a kid who plans to fix it up. The pickup completely died, and left for the vehicle graveyard. The big news here is that I’m starting to get the size of the “fleet” to be where my lovely wife would be accepting. Soon, soon. I still need to get ride of at least the RV, if not a couple more cars…
Saw an ad on Facebook tonight for Rubbr.com, a mobile tire service that comes to you. This is a brilliant idea that is much needed during the time of year in which out roads look to have been a bomb run, riddled full of craters and potholes, big enough to swallow a mid-sized car and just spit out the leftover road salt.
I can tell you quite certain the potholes are worse this year, moreso than others. A few weeks ago, my W8 Passat Wagon disappeared in one rather obnoxious one that destroyed 3 Blizzak snow tires, put a hole in the oil pan, and cracked the windshield. Yep, it was bad enough it cracked the windshield.
We’ve even actually already lost 2 of the Pirelli tires on the GTI, one even to that same car eating pothole, and it made every attempt to rip the front bumper cover off, tearing up two of the fastener holes.
So, yep, the roads suck, and, yes, I’m gonna need to replacement at least 2 sets of tires real soon. I’ll be giving Rubbr.com a call, and see how their prices and services compare. I’m also interested in other “applications” for their business model. I can see someone having track tires installed, or balanced or multiple sets set up the Thursday before Putnam or Auto-X weekend. Just some food for thought…
Lovely wife wants me to clear out the back yard parking lot of used cars, and financially, it makes sense to do so now. Most everything but the VW’s and the P cars will go, and while cash is always the favorite thing, it looks like one of the cars will be swapped for a Mazda RX8. Any of you had an RX8? If so, please leave me a comment, and let me know your thoughts.