Vehicles – almost an expensive lesson learned

So my wife’s car has been making some grinding noise for some time now, a couple months maybe? I had isolated it to the water pump, but figured so long as the water pump was working no big deal right? Eventually I knew it’d seize up and then I’d be forced to replace it, but in the meantime it was working just dandy. A week or two ago I was out with my son and we were killing some time at home depot. When we were done we still had about 10 minutes left so I started the car and he played some candy crush. We hadn’t been inside too long so the engine was still a bit warm. After 5 minutes or so the engine was up to temperature, but no heat was blowing. Fearing the worst I start poking around in the engine compartment. The water pump is still spinning, nothing too out of the ordinary, but I did notice some red liquid that had obviously been slung in a few areas. It was a bit oily feeling, but not like a real oil. I had no idea what it would have been, particularly over in that area [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck is back together (well, pretty much)

So the up side is that I replaced the shock, have the new fuel filler neck on, and the bed is one. The downside is the bed is on with 4 of the 6 bolts (2 had the threads a bit mangled and it felt like they were stripping out the holes. Being an off-road truck, I figured 4 should do it anyway until I can fix these bolts or get a couple more. Also, it turns out I forgot to take off the plastic deal that holds the fuel filler neck in place. Last seen it was on the old rusty fuel filler neck. So I walked the path I took and found it on the trail. Smashed into a couple dozen pieces because it got ran over. Whoops. Oh well, the filler neck can rattle around a while, it will take a while before I get tired of it. Heck, I think I only go through about 5 gallons in 6 months.

The bed went on very easily, I used a strap across rear of the bed on the tie downs, then a chain near the tailgate on the bolted on tie downs that look like they were [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck – some done, more to do

So I got my parts from Rock Auto a couple days ago and started working on the gas tank straps on the truck. Since the truck is operational per my last post, I decided to do the work in the driveway rather than the yard. Much better, now I can use my creeper and be much more comfortable. So I expected the tank straps to be terrible, everything else on this truck is super rusty (what do you expect from a 1995 Dodge Ram from Michigan?). As I crawled under though I saw the bolts for the old pieces of the tank strap had a rubber cap on them, they weren’t rusted at all! The nuts came off pretty easily; I wish all the bolts on the truck had those rubber caps on them! The rear strap was easily accessible and I got it on no problem. The front strap was a bit more jockeying around, I had to loosen the back strap and push the tank over to get the T of the strap into the slot of the frame. It took probably 10 minutes or more but it eventually went (in hindsight, it probably would have been easier [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck fuel leak and close call with deep freeze

Last weekend was my son’s birthday party, so the previous week I was busy around the house making some games for the party. His party was game themed, so I made giant jenga out of 2×4’s, giant dice for Yahtzee by cutting them out of 4×4’s (and using a forstner bit to drill the holes for the numbers), plus a few other games.

Anyway, we cooked hotdogs and ate out at the firepit, so I wanted to move the truck so we wouldn’t have to look at it. I had trouble starting it and smelled gas, but I got it started so I got it moved about 100′ to put it in the woods. When done I turned it off and REALLY smelled gas. Looking underneath there was gas dripping down and it had sprayed all over the place. Great. The really funny thing is that I was going to use it go go get some firewood out of the woods that had been sitting a while. Oh well. Tuesday I put it in neutral and wrapped a strap around the front axle. It pulled with the tractor no problem. I was going to ask the neighbor to come over [… click to continue reading this post]

Trying to figure out what to do with the garage

I was considering coating my garage floor so that it is easier to clean, so oil and such doesnt soak in, so it doesn’t etch with water coming from the cars in the snow, and so it just plain looks nicer. So after doing TONS of research I am conflicted and do not know what route I am going to go. Epoxy would take several coats over several days and fades in the sun, poly-urea/poly-aspartic cures very quickly, but is harder to apply because it cures so fast. More of a deal breaker though is that quite a few people seem to have issues with the home applied coatings after 1-5 years. I don’t want to have 500-1000 of materials and 2-7 days of time in and then have it flaking up or chipping in a year or two. So then I called a couple companies to see what it would be professionally applied. They can turn around the garage in one day and I found one that carried a 10 year warranty, that was appealing. The cost was around $6 per square foot, my garage is 750 sq ft. That is more than I was hoping to spend. I [… click to continue reading this post]

Live in snow? Carry a shovel!

Do you live where there is snow in the winter time? If so, have a dang shovel in your car! A week or so ago we had a big snow come in on a day I had to do a bit of driving. As soon as I pull in the parking lot at work I see two cars off the road (on company property). One guy went off, his car in the snow bank distracted the other driver, and she meandered off the road. I stopped to help the one guy, he said he had a tow truck nearly there, to help the other person instead.

The other woman was out there with a windshield scraper trying to clear snow from around her tires. I normally carry a small collapsing snow shovel (a good one from when my Mom started driving). I’ve been doing some research on how to get cars out of a snowy ditch, and one of the off-roading forums the search led me to pointed out that a normal snow shovel is meant for scraping concrete clear, but not moving a lot of volume. Instead, a scoop shovel can quickly clear a lot of volume. So, the [… click to continue reading this post]

I used my winter survival kit

If you have perused my site or youtube channel, you may already have seen my winter car survival kit post/video. A few weeks back I had a chance to use this winter car kit. We had been having quite a bit of snow, but one evening it was particularly bad. The next morning I decided to take a different route to work, seeing as my normal route had a pretty steep curve and a few spots that seemed to accumulate snow and ice. Well, I shouldn’t have changed up my routine. The roads looked like the plows had done a great job getting them down to the road. In reality, they had removed the snow, but the roads were a solid layer of ice. Up here in this part of MI they seem to use a lot of snow pushers rather than plows, which has a side effect of not much salt getting put on the roads. I ended up crashing my car into another that was stopped to turn because I couldn’t stop on the solid ice (which up until I went to hit the brakes, I was unaware that it was solid ice).

After the wreck I fell [… click to continue reading this post]

I have the snow tires on – also quick video on removing stuck wheels

Well, after an awesome Thanksgiving spent with my wife’s family it was time to get some stuff done. Up in Michigan there was a foot+ of snow on the ground at various points, and with it snowing a couple inches every day the roads were never in great condition. I was having trouble going so I started to put the snow tires on my car. As usual, the alloy wheels were a pain to remove. Now, I’m doing this under my car port at the apartment, not in my garage at home. As is pretty common, my lease says no working on cars so I was trying to be pretty speedy. Fortunately for me, MANY of my tools have been moved up to the apartment to get the house in a listable condition, so I had a few to choose from (though not all I’d prefer). At the apartment I turned the front wheels and used a dead blow mallet to knock the tires free, so was able to change those without TOO much of a huge hassle. However, when I moved to the rear it felt like I was going to possibly torque the lug studs right off, so [… click to continue reading this post]

Video – rear shock replacement & suspension troubleshooting

Over the winter my car was handling really funky and I just thought it was the roads heaving from the cold. At the same time, I also had a noise going on when I drove. I lifted the car up and grabbed ahold of the wheel and was yanking around on it. With the tire OFF you could see that the splines of the axle were moving around due to a bad bearing. In addition, with the wheel ON you could move it a bit side to side. I traced the movement down to a bushing that was shot. I replaced that and it solved the majority of my issues.

So now I’m driving along and everything seems a bit bouncy, not the sharp jerking that was before when I hit a bump, but a side to side bounciness. I pushed down on all 4 corners and found one that seemed to have a distinct difference. You can see me troubleshooting the rear and demonstrating my issues in this troubleshooting video:

Shocks/struts should be replaced in pairs, so you at least have to narrow it down front to back, but if you were really short on time and money [… click to continue reading this post]

Winter car kit contents – video

As usual, click on the post link to see the embedded video

I put this car kit together to get me by in case I get stranded in the snow on my 60 mile commute. This is not meant to be a traditional GHB, it is meant to keep me alive until AAA can get to me, or to double in case I get snowed in at work and spend the night there. It would be unlikely to be too bad at work, but where I live we can get pretty significant amounts of lake effect snow. Already in my car but not shown: Phone charger High power flashlight with strobe mode Heavy duty collapsible shovel Items in this kit that may be of particular interest:

Yak – Trax I have the heavier duty version I got for Christmas a couple years ago, but these have started to become knocked off some so you can find off-brands for as low as $5-10. They are amazing for walking on a solid sheet of ice. The above link is to the sharper, but slightly less heavy duty version from what I have, but still the name brang. I have seen [… click to continue reading this post]

Winter commute preparing

I am sitting here in a tire (literally) waiting on new tires for my car. They have been slowly leaking air, I have been having vibration issues, and they are somewhat old. There is probably another 5k or 10k miles worth of tread on them, but they are nowhere near what I want them at for a 60 mile each way commute. When trouble shooting the vibration there was a heavy vibration from the tire even when it was off the ground. I could even see visually it was out of round or concentricity by about 1/16”. Time to upgrade a bit early and stop being cheap.

In addition I am putting in a full winter kit this year, changing brake disks (one is warped a few thou and will wear the brakes faster). While I am in there I errol also check the brakes and if over half worn I will change them too. While I do have AAA, I cannot rely on them 100%. Even if I could, isn’t it better to prevent the emergency by performing the routine maintenance now rather than after things have gotten excessively bad? It is a matter of time before the front [… click to continue reading this post]