Breathe & stop. Keep your cool. (Bonus track)

I’ve developed a real bitterness toward working on cars in recent years.

It often feels like my vehicles fight me every step of the way. I wonder how much of that is my own damn fault? You know, self-fulfilling prophecy and whatnot.

Wednesday night, after P went to bed, I had to go back out to the driveway and replace filthy, 19-year old heater hoses on Fezzik. It’s not a hard job, but because these are always wedged between the back of the engine and the firewall, it’s almost always a pain in the ass.

Instead of bitching and moaning about it, I told myself to just slow down, breathe, and get it done.

I removed the hood and cruise control box for maximum headroom and comfort. (It was still 107°F/42°C out at 9PM.) I refused to get mad when I dropped that damned hose clamp bolt four times during reassembly.

Whattayaknow. Everything came apart and went back together without a hitch.

The culprit: small hole worn by OE hose clamp on 19-year old OE hose.

I’m gonna try this approach more often. With cars. With life in general.

Bonus: That feeling.

My house is around the corner to the left. Whew!

That feeling. When you’re retracing your steps to see if you sprung a leak after replacing those heater hoses and you find a trail of fresh fluid in the road and you know you didn’t see any other cars in the neighborhood on your test drive—and the trail goes to someone else’s driveway.

FFS, Fezzik, C’mon already.

I topped off the radiator Monday morning. It took half a gallon.

Drove to and from work no problem. Temp gauge normal—just below half.

Tuesday morning, I rolled my eyes at the small puddle under Fezzik, as I loaded P up for school.

Halfway to work, the temp gauge started climbing. Damnit.

I bail out of the commute, find a semi-shady parking spot at a Walgreens, and pop the hood. It looks like coolant is leaking onto the valve cover behind the throttle body. Fine. Whatever.

Add ¾ gallon of distilled water to the radiator, and limp home.

Temp gauge reads normal the whole way—just below half.

Work from home, and replace the throttle body coolant lines before picking P up from school.

The flash adds 10lbs of filth.

Idle for 15 minutes, getting up to temp, bleeding off air bubbles, heater running full blast.

No leaks.

Pick up P from school; a quick, mile or so round trip in 110° heat.

No leaks.

Drive the family to dance class in 110° heat.

No leaks.

Drive home from dance class.

No leaks.

Park in driveway.

No leaks.

Check under truck before leaving for work Wednesday morning.

No leaks.

Drive less than a mile to school, walk back out, to parking lot.

Slow, but steady drip.

Pop hood, check new hoses. Bone dry.

Drive back home, now effectively pissing coolant from the back of the engine.

FFS, Fezzik, C’mon.

I know the one throttle body hose was soft, spongy and cracked. So this is something else. Probably a heater hose.

The gearhead’s golden rule is basically spend the time and money to do it right the first time—so you don’t have to find more time and money to do it over. I’m a big believer in that.

I just seem to buy vehicles which doing it right the first time means replacing entire vehicle systems from scratch.

At this point, within the last 90 days, I’ve flushed the cooling system, cleaned the cooling system, drained and refilled it twice with distilled water, and replaced the thermostat and radiator cap. The water pump was installed new back in April. The radiator hoses are less than a year old.

I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to climbing up on top of the engine to fight with hose clamps in the three inches of space between the engine and firewall. Ugh.

Seriously, Fezzik. Let’s get on with our lives already. This is dumb.

Really, Fezzik?

This is no joke. Literally three times in a row now—since June—within 24 hours of telling someone (usually V) that the check engine light is gone and I’m feeling good about how Fezzik’s running, that damned CEL comes right back on.

The last few times it’s come on—and there have been more than three, mind you—it’s been a simple case of a stuck thermostat. I’d be driving, a storm would roll through, the ambient temperature drops, and Fezzik actually runs too cool to get into open or closed loop fuel calculations.

I confirmed this theory with the MUT-II factory scan tool I borrowed from Adam back when I was troubleshooting the misfire before MOD. No big deal.

[ For the non-gearheads in the audience, the thermostat is a valve in the engine cooling system. It stays shut until the engine warms up, then opens to allow coolant/antifreeze to circulate through the radiator and heater core. If you get hot air from your heater vents, your thermostat is open and coolant is circulating. ]

Anyway, when Super Shuttle dropped me off after the Shootout, I noticed a sizable leak under Fezzik. Coolant. The next morning, I added half a gallon of distilled water to the radiator. Awesome.

No leaks all week, though. Temp gauge functioning normally.

Come home from Sedona this past Sunday to find another puddle under Fezzik.

Really, dude? C’mon. You broke down just sitting there? 

I suspect it’s the coolant line to the throttle body. Keith’s going to let me borrow his pressure tester to know for sure. Hooray dealing with filthy shit on the back of the engine!