Sunday, June 13, 2010

On the Road Again

Nope, it's not just your imagination, I have been off the bike for almost a week now. I've been having trouble getting my old car smogged, and so have been doing one of my least favorite things - wrenching on an old car.

All of the bending over and twisting and pulling has left me sore and my back a mess, but I think I finally found the problem. Given how cheap the parts are for my car, and with garage rates at ~ $100 an hour here, the general approach has been to make a list of all the sensors the computer talks to, rank them by expense, and start replacing them.

Somewhere along the way a nasty smelling cloud of smoke came rolling out from under my hood when trying to start the car, and a test turned up a fried alternator. If you're going to replace that, then replace the serpentine belt that runs it too, and as I have just discovered, when you replace that belt, by all means take the Gates belt people's advice and replace the tensioner. It turns out, my tensioner was frozen in one place - so completely worthless.

I should have been done with this chore twice over by now, but even brand names like GoodYear are making aftermarket auto parts (tensioner) these days that are so far out of spec they do nasty things -  like rub on the crankshaft pulley, and prevent putting on the AC V-belt by blocking access to the crankshaft pulley.

I am taking the high road now, buying premium Dayco parts, as I don't want to spend any time under my hood again for a good long time. I am also buying online, as prices are about 60% of brick and mortar auto parts stores, and with better selection - just like bike parts!

So after spending $250 to have a $50 oxygen sensor replaced, it turns out the real problem was the alternator throwing AC noise (my best guess) and/or voltage spikes all over the computer due to bad diodes and/or a belt that stretched enough when warmed to chatter and engage sporadically, dumping an extra volt or two into the computer for a split second - rinse and repeat several times a second.

Long story short, assuming this finally gets me a smog cert, the moral of the story is, if fixing your car is really just a process of going on a fishing trip, replacing one thing after another until the thing works, its usually a lot cheaper if you go on that trip instead of a mechanic.

Last, but not least, and the point of the post,  I get to go riding again. Whooo, hoooo!

2 comments:

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Riding again...yes!! Hope that the test is clear and the sell of the car goes super easy!

Grey Beard said...

...fingers crossed