Category Archives: Autos

All Automotive posts from Motorcycles, Cars and Trucks

A Mechanics Car

montanaRecently I had some time to spend with a focus on my own cars.. it is funny, having the skills to perform required repairs to your own vehicles doesn’t meant that they actually happen.  I have always prided myself on my cars being well maintained but as time has gone on and time seems to move faster, the time to keep up on this seems to elude me. My wife’s van has (fortunately for me) been mostly reliable and requiring very little work but with the registration being due,  there were some things that I had been putting off that had to be dealt with.  Although none of them were (BIG) or so I thought, they were more just time. An alternator was begging for replacement, the electrical was acting up (it was like random flickering of Christmas lights when you applied the brake with the right hand turn signal on). And the dreaded Check engine light was on with a PO440 code (EVAP problem) I knew that the fuel sending unit was acting up because the fuel gauge was acting up.

I braced for the impact on my time and wallet as I cleared space in the shop to be able to work on it with some level of comfort.  The Engine was warm the with the first attempt so I started with the electrical. As I inspected the Right rear light assembly I noticed that the ground connection was burnt/charred so the assumption that the ground connection was insufficient for the demand (common problem on these vehicles) so I immediately dug into adding a larger ground connection as shown below:


As I was re-assembling the assembly, I noticed that a few of the bulbs were the wrong ones.. simply by correcting them, they began to work correctly. “its getting the new ground anyway, I’m already done!”. I moved on to the front where I found that one of the twist lock light sockets had disintegrated. Although this would seem like a small problem it was a bit tricky finding replacements, mostly due to the lack of having a uniform naming process in parts stores systems..  The first one I found, and it was only one of the 2 I needed, was $47.00..  later I was able to match one up at AZ for $13.00 so that is the direction I went. After re-wiring the first one, there was another problem.. the Ground connection somewhere to that and the driver side headlight was not connecting properly. This was causing the drivers headlight to be dim as well as flash in relation to the blinker. Adding a good ground there made a huge difference and I was starting to fee l accomplished.

The next fix was the Alternator, usually a easy fix but not on this one. There are 2 ways of pulling the alternator off of these. 1-remove the entire windshield wiper assembly, washer fluid tank and get it out that way or 2- undo 2 of the sub frame bolts and lower the entire motor a few inches to get it to clear that way. I went for lowering the motor. Its amazing what 1” can do to hinder a project. After breaking an aluminum bracket, it was out.. fortunately this was an opportunity to rag on my wife about needing a tig welder when I had a friend use his to weld the bracket back together. It is on the shopping list now, problem is determining where on the list it needs to be.

I will say 2 things that will help you. When you are tired, quit. Your mind no longer looks at things in such a way that it can solve problems and causes you to keep trying the same thing that has not worked the last 100 times. Second, lift up the van from both sides when lowering the sub frame.. it will prevent the body from twisting and make it a lot easier to get the bolts back in.

The nice part about all of the frustration on the Alternator is that while I was staring (glaring) in frustration I noticed a hose fitting that had broken off of the EVAP purge valve that was quickly repaired with a bit if heat shrink tube and JB weld.  So far that repair has shown to have solved the problem without replacing the fuel pump so.. that has resulted well.

Now that everything is fixed we are playing the waiting game. No matter how much you fix. The computer must confirm that it is all fixed and sometimes that takes some time and many miles.. Hopefully that will be accomplished soon!

“Trust the professionals”?



(first off, sorry there has not been any updates for a while- we had no internet for a while I will get a basic update in next week but for now:)

It has been heard by millions the famous phrase “trust the professionals” but the question stands, can you really trust the professionals? As a person that likes to work on pretty much everything I love to know and understand a little of everything so when I am “trusting the professionals” I will watch them and see want they are doing and I tend to notice things that are done right as well as wrong. I have a few examples to share with you to give you the understanding on how I came to this point of view.

Tire shops – we have all had to or will have to take our cars in to have our tires replaced or fixed. Simply it is part of owning a car. I have always enjoyed watching as the techs use the impact guns to zip the lugs off and on until one day a when the front wheel on my mom’s suv sheared all 5 lugs off going down the road. As I did more digging, I found that this is caused by the lug nuts being over torqued upon wheel installation. Since that time I have watched to see the process that most all shops use and realize that many of them are doing things all wrong. I am not going to say that using an impact to install the wheel is wrong, it is just how they do it. Watch them, when they pull out the torque wrench (a long handled ratchet looking device that clicks when a specified tightness is achieved) if they put it on the lugs and it clicks without them turning the bolt at all, odds are, it is too tight and runs the risk of snapping the lug stud. All this is checking is that the lug nuts are at least as tight as they are supposed to be, it does not chech to see if it has been over tightened.   The proper use is to get the lugs just snug with the air tools and then do the final tightening with the torque wrench. This does take more time but it is also the correct way to do this. In my view, if you see the procedure is being done correctly, complement the service tech or their manager on that so they know you are paying attention to that. If it is being done incorrectly, the shop should be called out on it and they should replace all of the lug studs (once the damage is done, the damage is done, you cannot UN-stretch a lug stud).

Big-o tires in St. George – This review is already up on google maps so, it is already public but this gives you an idea of why I watch the services being done at shops. I was traveling though ST George and was having some bad wheel shake and was concerned about a smell from the transfer case so I went to this shop and had them do a “Balance and Rotation” as well as “please check the fluids while it is on the lift” after being a mechanic for several years I have a habit of watching the work done, which was a good idea in this case… first I caught them not balancing the rear tires and was told “we only balance the tires going on the front” I then instructed them to balance ALL! my tires! Then I caught them draining the oil…??? “are they changing my oil?” I asked the floor manager and, his reply was “uhh yea. my bad” I only run a specific type of oil in my car which they were not able to locate (even though Auto zone and Wal-mart stock it) so they put some of their oil in, so I could get back on the road (now I will have to pay for another oil change to get their stuff out). shortly after that they pulled it out with the appearance of being done. When I asked about the fluids they indicated “we could not check them because of a skid plate” I do not have a skid plate so really they did not look. After indicating that there was not a skid plate on this vehicle, they proceeded to pull it back in and lift it back up. They did check the rear differential but in checking the transfer case said that they did not have the correct socket. (really!!?? go buy one! they are 5 dollars from ANYWHERE! How have they been in business this long and how many of these were not checked when they said they would because of a $5 socket) and then they never did check the front differential. By this time all of the other shops were closing (I was there for over 2 hours) and was unable to get the remainder of what I needed done, done by a real shop, for the rest of my trip I had to worry about what was about to break due to wrong or missing fluids… oh yea, by the way the wheels now shake more after the balance. I did call and the Store Manager indicated that he “will resolve the situation and compensate me back for the “Service”” I really should have demanded my money back along with the cost to change the oil back to the right one.  Looking at the other reviews on Google maps, I see that the same crooked practices continue to this day.

HVAC – This is one that I am dealing with currently so I will have to keep you up to date as more happens but here it is. The house we currently live in was purchased from family and so I know what was done. They paid a company “The Professionals” to install a new HVAC unit in the house (heat and A/C) about 6 years ago and to this day it still has not worked properly. It runs constantly and in the summer is barely able to keep the house around 78° and that is when it is set at 74-76°. At this point, we are looking at the cost of having all of the duct work, heater, and A/C units replaced. From a visual standpoint it does not look like a professional and attractive installation. The  facts are the facts, my next action will be calling several companies to come and look at the unit and determine how to better fix the situation.

So, the question again. How much are we really able to “Trust the professionals”, in my opinion, we cannot unless we have tons of money to throw at every problem. What? That is not the case, then you need to educate ourselves so that we know what is going on and we just use the professionals based on our knowledgeable understanding of the task and just having a lack of time or tools with the research on which professional “seems” to have the most integrity.

Feb 23, 2014 So close and yet so far!

Well, I suppose I could say that this was a productive week. After a very trying weekend dealing with millions of rocks, it was hard to be motivated but we did it anyway.. Through out the week we completed the conduit to the garage (wires and all) and just yesterday we wired up the Garage breaker box with 1 receptacle and 1 light. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but that is a real milestone with this garage. Now we have the ability to work in the garage (Limited but still) with light.. Also if we need any sort of power we can use a short extension cord and go at it rather than dragging a 50′ cord from the house. The next step on the garage is to CLEAN IT OUT! There is soo much stuff that has accumulated in there because of the lack of lighting. Everyone was literally opening the door and setting stuff just inside because you could not see the proper location or even a safe path to it.. The garage started its life full with half full of my father-in-laws wood working tools and the other half crammed with my Mechanical tools and motorcycles, then when my Father-In-Law was diagnosed with Cancer, more stuff was put there in an attempt to remove “past life thoughts” such as his hunting gear and all the other what not’s.  That plus, we liquidated the Flooring company and the person that was buying most of the supplies and tools left what he did not want/ could not afford.. Needless to say it is extremely full and even more un-organised.

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I did get to pull “Zuki” out into the light, more to get it out of the way but it was nice to see it in the sun light.. kinda helped to get motivated to get it going more.

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As for the house project… we finished the last of the interior electrical as well as the remainder of the Sheetrock.. Some of the mudding still needs some attention where the ceiling transitions into the older part of the house. The bedroom ceiling is primed and completely painted. and all of the rest of the Sheetrock is primed just not painted.. I am sure with the girls impatience, they will be all over that tomorrow in a push to get it done.. we are really hoping to at least start on the flooring side of things before the end of the week.

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With so many projects getting so close to completion, we can feel the strain of the push catching up to us.. now it is all we can do to get the house done, wrap up the underground electrical line, cleaning the garage and getting the Zuki going..

Jan 26, 2014 Stalling out! Cannot wait for summer!

Well, maybe not a full on stall.. We did get a little further along on the project.. after running the wires we were feeling like we were on the home stretch.. well, at least until we started the insulation ( MAN DO I HATE THAT STUFF!) we were able to get it all in Minus down around the concrete and the attic access. The attic access will be an Expanding foam insulation and around the concrete will use a rigid R4 insulation paneling.  Here are some pics of where we are at.

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This week was a bit tricky getting much done because, well, putting in 57 hours really limit what you are able to do elsewhere.  But we are still on track.. we are hoping to get the sheet rock on Monday and get it going in this week.. The overall goal is to get the kids moved in by Valentines.. I think we can do it, it is just time right!?

Update stated, here is the deal.. I was really hoping to get the trench dug yesterday with a vid of that process but there was not a trencher available.. hopefully soon.. we’ll get ‘er dug and get some wiring to the garage..

Now for those of you that know me, I am always shooting for things waaayyyy  out of reach and really I am at it again! I am trying to convince my wife of doing some massive amounts of concrete work.. (new driveway, curb, gutter, sidewalk, and of coarse a driveway to the shop) what that means for you is a lot of new projects.. and tons of great vids.. the catch is somehow I have to swindle a new computer and a car lift in the mix of everything else. The upside to that is I can use it for a income source but it is the journey getting there that is gonna be a bit tricky..

I guess what I am saying is, its only gonna get better.

Dec 20, 2013 Finally some resolve

Only 5 more days until Christmas, Not sure if we are ready but it is what it is.. I will tell you this, we are for sure going to look at Christmas differently this year.

As for updates, Blazer is home and fixed, it was the fuel pump so that has been resolved.. that also means that the snow blower is home as well 😉 I am hoping to get it out and use it tomorrow.

Roof is no longer leaking and tomorrow I will be moving the rest of the ice off so that I can finish attaching the heater cord to the roof and permanently resolve that issue..

Oh and one more but GOOD things just so you all don’t think of me as Mr Negativity.. THANK YOU ALL that came to the house today to help out with the room.. it is always appreciated!

Dec 19, 2013 Seeking resolution

OK so I don’t know if there is anyone that really reads all these posts and maybe daily is a bit much but.. OH WELL! There is a lot going on and so I have a lot to share.

1997 Blazer = poop! not really but that is the feeling I have right now.. I changed the filter (took a shower in gasoline) … no change. Changed the Regulator… still no change so…. it is the fuel pump! After doing this I was listening to it and it was making some weird sounds so.. I guess that does make sense. That, and I had just filled it up.. Fortunately my Bro-in-Law was in town so we used the mighty 00 Pontiac Montana (minivan) to tow it home, well, kinda home, really to a shop that would fix it because I was too lazy and tired.

As for the roof issue, I got the heat cord and laid it across the ice in hopes it will melt a little down and clear a path so I can eventually install it correctly. In the meantime, it is no longer leaking.

I would ask if “IT” is done but I’d rather not temp fate.. in all reality, non of this has been more than we can handle, it was just a trial.. maybe just so we will see Christmas in a new light this year..


Dec 18, 2013 WHAT? More problems!

Ok so… for those of you that don’t know what is going on, go back and look at past posts.. If you are up to speed, keep reading.

Last night after getting a chance to relax, calming down about the car problems that decided to take place on top of everything else going on, we went to bed. It could not have been more than  just a moment or two of rest before we hear Tap…. tap da da tap tap tap. I thought ” do we have another mouse in our room?”  but it  kept going even after I turned on the lights.. WE HAD SPRUNG A LEAK!  our roof in our room was dripping water.. there was no plumbing in the attic so it had to be the roof.. I did not have time to look at it so I left for work this morning thinking no too much about it.. when I got home, this is what I find in our room. 2013-12-18 19.03.18then I made the mistake of looking up…

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apparently the roof had formed a thick layer of ice on the roof that as it was melting and backing up under the shingles.. FIGURES!

2013-12-18 19.04.07 2013-12-18 19.04.22

so tomorrow I am going to head out and get one of them melt cords  like this one:

Easy Heat ADKS-500 100-Foot Roof De-Icing Cable

Now, I have never used one so this will be my first time and I am only hoping it will work for what we need, trust me, I’ll keep you posted..

on to a different note, my Blazer, I went and picked up a Fuel pressure guage  like so

and gave her a test..

now when I looked up the specs it said that it should have between 55-65 psi.. well that is nothing like what I was getting.. not  even close.. it was a measly 12 psi so I had to pick up a fuel filter and a fuel pressure regulator

I am hoping that it will be be just the fuel filter but, I am guessing that it is the regulator.. that is OK with me because I believe it has been going out for some time.  the only problem is that its location is horrible.

 fuel pressure regulator


right underneath all of the upper components  of the engine.. I should be able to get to in about an hour replace it and then have it put back together another hour. That is, if I get the time, the weather cooperates, and I don’t freeze in the process.

Oh and by the way, my father in law came home today.. I’ll have to do some catch up on that story another time… Wish me luck!

Dec 17, 2013 I got it but not without problems!

Well the day has come and there is a story to tell. So I went to get the said snow blower.. everything looked good, some basic wear and tear but it runs well and in the end they gave it to me for $350.00 instead of $375.00. As I got talking to him I found out he teaches where I went to Junior High so, I got to reminisce a little and then when it was time to go….. the Blazer would not start, Granted the ol’ girl has over 222,###.# miles on it and it has not given me a problem since I got it.  After playing with it, I determined that there was spark and some full pressure (no sure how much) so I am guessing it is the infamous Fuel pressure regulator. gives me a need to buy a fuel pressure gauge HEHEHE **as I rub my hands together with an evil look on my face** need less to say one of the guys from work towed me back to the shop and then I carpooled home and will be driving my wife’s van until I get it fixed. Trust me I will film the process and let you know how it goes..  but HEY,, I got a snow blower! That was the point right!?