Oct. 25th, 2010 10:22 am
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So I spent the last 5 weekends fixing the car (with much help from the Miss and the patience of my family, whose garage I left it in). It's finally done: I drove it home and no fluids are coming out that weren't before.

I set out to change the timing belt (which was fine, but per mileage was due for a change) and the crankcase breather tube (which was shattered into a million pieces, leaving the engine stinking of burning oil and plastic). Because most of the trouble in changing the timing belt is getting at it, and you get at a lot of other things along the way, we added on a lot of "while you're in there"s: the serpentine belt, the power steering belt, the AC condenser belt, the water pump, and the water pump thermostat.

Where the weekends went, to the best of my recollection:

1. Taking stuff off (bumper, AC condenser, radiator, radiator support (the thing with headlights on it), various tubes and covers and air guides); unsticking stuck bolt #1. Decided not to fix the breather tube this time because it was inaccessible without removing the intake manifold, which we could do later.
2. Taking stuff off (old belts, viscous fan clutch, old water pump and thermostat); unsticking stuck bolts #2 and #3, including removing the water pump housing, which was a much bigger pain than the water pump per se.
3. Putting the water pump housing and water pump back in. Fixed the breather tube after all because we found that it was accessible after getting the water pump housing out of the way.
4. Actual belt changes, closing up, water pump thermostat installation.
5. More closing up, redoing the thermostat installation because coolant was leaking out because I had used Allen-head bolts instead of big fat hex bolts tightened with a torque wrench.

All of this together really ads up to a long day of work; but for each hour of that day, I added on maybe

- 2 hours of being lazy in the mornings because I didn't want to deal with this crap
- 2 hours of commuting to my parents' house
- 2 hours of research/"learning experience"
- 2 hours of tool/hardware shopping (e.g., various kinds of bolt extractors, a torque wrench, stainless steel bolts; much slower on a Sunday than, say, on a weekday).

On the bright side, I now have the knowledge and tools acquired during the course of all this pain, and the confidence and muscle memories allowing me to proceed faster next time.

Automotive enthusiasts will notice I did nothing to the engine per se, just stuff that bolts on to the engine.


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Aaron D. Ball

December 2010

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