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…
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…
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…
Today I completed my 45th trip around the sun. Reflecting on the last year, I definitely see things as trying, and complex, ripe with injuries, illness bruises and scrapes, some physical, some mental and some – lots – emotional. Tomorrow, things started anew again, with a new celestial trip for the next 365 days, which I’m sure will continue to be fill of more trials and tribulations. There will be many posts dedicated to that for the next year, but this post is not about that, this post is about today, my birthday, and I want a birthday redo. I deserve a birthday redo.
Don’t get me wrong, my day started out awesome. My lovely wife made me French Toast, I got to play a bit with cars, I was looking forward to dinner with Mom and Dad.
Then, when I decided to go outside and de-ice one of the cars, things started to take a turn for the worse. I really hurt my right shoulder trying to scrape ice, and my shoulder is NOT happy. I should have just packed it in and called it a day right then and there. I mark up a big chunk of the following to the cold weather and the ice, which turned things to crap in a real hurry. Maybe even some bad juju I had to get rid of as well, before I could successfully start the new year. Here’s how my day unfolded after I hurt my shoulder more than it had already been.
1) I had someone coming by to look at the 318, so I went about trying to thaw it, and to cleaning the 1/4 inch of ice which caused the passenger window to shatter in a brilliant, surprising explosive fashion.
2) Whole going over the 318, we diagnosed the head gasket as “crap”. Or, maybe “crap” was what I was screaming when we found that fact out. Fortunately we have it parked in their warehouse, out of the elements, and in a good spot for now.
3) Getting in my W8, I immediately noticed the spider cracked windshield. No worries, that’s why I pay insurance a bit extra for windshield replacement.
4) Time to head to dinner – leaving house in my W8, heading to meet my parents for birthday dinner at Olive Garden, a mile down the road, I hear a thud, thud, thud, and found my tire uber flat. That’s the tire I replaced last week, and checked air pressure on before we left. It was an inside sidewall blow out, probably from a pothole. Grrr. Limp it back home.
5) We grab the wife’s GTI. 20 minutes after #3, trying to still meet my parents at Olive Garden, we found another tire flat, this time an inside sidewall blowout on the GTI. What are the odds? NO BIGGIE, let’s just put the spare on – wait, umm, keyed wheel lugs and we never had keys for the lug nuts on this car. I wonder how many times the wheels have actually been rotated when I’ve paid for them to be done?
6) Time to limp it to Tires Plus, the only shop open on Sunday. I’m so grateful they were able to handle busting the keyed lug off and putting on the spare. They fixed the issue, and said, “no charge!”. Looks like I need 2 sets of tires at this point.
I’ve never had issues at tires plus, and they are one of my go to shops. My day had turned into crap by this point, but their service AND their customer service, helped to turn my day a little brighter. Many thanks to them for their help tonight.
So, what was the outcome? We finally go to Olive Garden, long after my parents left. Had the best waiter I’ve ever had there, he was phenomenal, so I told the GM how lucky they were to have him on their team. Big bowl on salad, some ravioli, a glass of wine, and we made it home safely, with no more flats.
I guessed, despite the “crap”, I can honestly say this was not my worse birthday, not even in my top 5 worse. Sometime remind me to tell you the time I was stuck on a hill next to Lake Griffy, in -4° weather, or the time we went sledding in Martinsville in a 6′ kiddie pool. All those stories are for another party though, in the meantime, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.
With winter storm Hunter bearing down on us, I was able to get enough help to move the P cars to better locations. The 914 is currently sitting in the garage, nose first, awaiting me getting help to drop the motor for a rebuild and some bodywork. It’s a 30 minute job to drop the motor, but not one I can complete at this point in time, without some help.
The 944 is out of the back yard mud, now sitting on the 3rd car driveway apron. This got it to the point that I can get some help and poke at it with a stick, or after the 914 motor is pulled, I can swap the 2 cars to get the 944 inside.
Anyways, nothing is planned too quickly, as I’m still pretty broken. I just got a steroid shot in my right shoulder rotator cuff on Tuesday of this week, and it’s one of the only things on my arm I can currently feel – and it hurts. Still no strength in my right arm, but I have definitely noticed the increase in my assisted movement without the joint freezing up. I’ll take that, as it’s the first step to take to allow for PT for the brachial plexus injury.
As far as the mushed melon above my shoulders, my headaches and memory is still the same, and my speech is still terrible. I have been referred to my favorite ENT, Dr. Agostino, whom I saw on Wednesday, to schedule a balance assessment through Balance Point in Carmel, as well as speech therapy for my speech and memory issues.