30 November 2015

Auto Repairs & Yesteryear

From a comment from Proud Hillbilly on a previous post about vehicle maintenance:
Once upon a time I did some of the basic stuff on my vehicles. Now all I can or am inclined to do is open the hood and go "Yep. That's an engine." 

And it seems that's a deliberate design imposed by the manufacturers: the professional repair folks don't want the average driver to do any work themselves. Less money in their pockets, you see. Having said that, I also note that many new vehicles systems are so complicated that the average shade-tree mechanic is no longer able to work on them. At least, not with ordinary tools.

And of course, there are exceptions. Some people think nothing of tearing into a recent model car or truck and doing all sorts of things.

But it reminds me of arriving back in the Midwest, when I got out of the Navy, with a '67 Ford Bronco that I shipped from Adak to Seattle by cargo ship, and then drove home to the St. Louis area.
My '67 Bronco outside the Longview Barracks on Bering Hill, Adak. It had body damage - common on Adak - but good wipers, lights, two gas tanks, and a strong heater/defroster. All good things to have, in the Aleutian Islands.

I backed it into my dad's carport, whereupon I replaced the oil, all the u-joints in both driveshafts, rebuilt a front hub and the rear axle, and replaced the rear leaf-springs. Adjusted the clutch, rotated the tires, and drove it for another year before replacement.

I did all that work in less than a week. Looking back at the past weekend, in which it took two of us nearly five hours to access and replace six plugs, due to components which were in the way.

I finally have all the tools I'd ever wanted back in the day, and a few more besides, and there's less and less upon which I can use them.



Old NFO said...

Yep, it's with great sadness I retired my timing light and distributor tools a few years ago...

Rev. Paul said...

Understood, sir ... and now they don't even use distributors anymore, either.

deborah harvey said...

some years ago had our junker in for repair . mech told me he was doing tuneup on new car.
i passed the comment that i'd like a new one.
he contradicted me. said they had to pull the whole engine to get at the spark plugs.

seems the greedy want you to be bled dry at the dealership for such a thing as a sparkplug setting.
hell is a big place for reason.

Rev. Paul said...

deborah, your mechanic is right: there are more & more components under the hood, and less & less room. I had to turn my '98 Ford Expedition over to a repair shop for a tune-up, because the spark plugs were literally hidden under a cap, and there weren't any wires. I couldn't even figure out where the plugs actually were.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Or my neighbors 2005 F150 which needed a head pull to replace the broken plugs that wouldn't come out at 100k miles. A common occurrence. No recall.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

I find at age 71 I can't do much even knowing how. This year pulled a heater fan motor at the u-pull lot but had a young, agile young man put it in. Same car, same u-pull lot replaced a worn out turn signal assembly. Next up is an oxygen sensor. New, $47 plus tax. At the u-pull $10.

One of my favorite savings is I'm not a great mechanic but my hourly rate is hard to beat.

Rev. Paul said...

It's amazing what they can get by with, Ed. Apparently it has something to do with "the defect doesn't cause accident, injury or property damage, so no recall is necessary." And what's really scary is that Ford seems to produce fewer defective products than many of the others.

WSF, understood. I'm getting to that point, myself. It's getting harder to get up & down, and to wriggle into places where the work can be accomplished. I was quite happy to let Older Daughter wield the tools; I mostly handed her whatever she needed, and offered advice as needed.

Chickenmom said...

Ah, the Bronco! The best vehicle I EVER owned! I miss her.....

Guffaw in AZ said...

Was never very mechanical. I've learned a few things over the years, like being old, crunchy and disabled makes bending and kneeling and sitting-on-the-ground ne'er impossible.
And painful!
So I leave the work to the professionals - when I can afford it, which is seldom.


drjim said...

I do all the regular maintenance on my 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and of course my 1985 Toyota Supra.

That 2015 Ford Exploder we had on our recent Colorado trip had so much electronic stuff on it that I shudder to think about trying to work on it.

The third time it died on us and needed a jump, we were going to roll it back a few feet so the jumper cables would reach easier.

BUT....with a dead battery, I couldn't get it out of "Park" to roll it back!

Rev. Paul said...

Chickenmom, agreed! I had two of 'em: the '67 pictured here, and a nearly identical '69 model. I loved those things; could picture every part in my head, and work on anything that needed to be fixed, replaced, or tweaked. :)

Guffaw, I'm starting to notice that getting up & down in the driveway isn't quite as easy as it used to be. Darn driveway, always gettin' in the way ... heh.

Jim, I've only had the '06 Explorer for 18 months, so haven't had to do anything to it - until now. But looking under the hood of my wife's 2014 Escape makes me think twice about a new Explorer. By the way, it wouldn't be the first time I've had to daisy-chain sets of jumper cables to reach from one car to another. The fly in that ointment is when only one set is available. Been there, too.