Recently 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!