Friday, October 18, 2013

I think I should be slightly concerned.

Here I've got a blog, my blog has 178 posts and over 6,000 views. The ads on the blog make me something like $0.07 a week. Over on YouTube I've got 75 videos from which I get around $15 a month.

Today I stumbled on the list of followers for this blog, that number is zero. My YouTube channel has 199 subscribers. The blog has 6 comments, the YouTube channel gets that every month.

Conclusion? I'm a much better videographer than blogger.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Transmission oil

The Jetta has had a persistent transmission whine since I got it. When I checked it was a little low on oil. Interestingly this car wants a GL4 gear oil. This is strange to me as every other manual transmission I've ever owned from my '88 GMC to my '78 240D wanted ATF. It also seems that everybody has an opinion about what to use in there. Everything from G70 which is what VW provides and is water thin, to 75w90 synthetic gear oil. There are 2 different complaints, thin stuff like G70 makes the trans whine, heavy stuff like gear oil makes it hard to shift when cold.

With that all in mind I decided to do the "2 quart method", a quart of Redline MT-90 which is heavier and should handle the whine and a quart of Redline MTL which is lighter and should help cold shifts.

To drain the transmission that blasted underbody panel has to come out so the car has to be jacked up. Other than that its really no big deal with a big allen socket to get the plug out. Remember on a job like this to always remove the fill plug first, that way if something goes wrong you haven't drained out all the fluid with no way to put it back.

As you can see the stuff I got out is nasty, it smells vaugely of gear oil which it should but wasn't see through, very cloudy. Thinner than I'd expected too. I wonder if nobody had ever changed it and the gear whine was yet another reason the car was donated.

With the Redline in the transmission is much quieter. I'm well pleased with this and although the Redline (I got from Amazon) is fairly expensive at this point I feel its worth it. We'll see how the shifting is when it gets colder but for now its smooth, maybe smoother than before I started but I'll need to drive some more before I go that far.

Still got quite an oil leak going on. I can see where Keith changed the oil pan gasket an the leak now appears to be above that on the back side of the engine, maybe somewhere around the turbo. Its quite a challenging place to get at without a lift. Its possible that this car wasn't using synthetic oil before and maybe by changing to good synthetic oil some seals will swell and stop the leak. I'm not real confident but I'm willing to give it a shot. Otherwise I'll feed it and watch it close for awhile and then get it back to Keith for another shot.

Not many truck choices anymore

My Ranger has about had it. Sure we've only had it for 5 years but it was 5 years old when we got it and on its 10th anniversary its got rust catching hold. At last count there were 5 holes in the bed, the rocker panel under the passenger's door was perforated like a book of stamps until I covered it with fiberglass and one of the gas tank straps is head together with wire. Its got just under 100,000 miles and runs like a champ but the body is just falling away to nothing. I'll keep it together one more year but the end is clearly approaching. In 2003 my folks bought a pair of 2004 Jeep Liberties owing to a drunk driver smashing both of their vehicles in their driveway. Both their vehicles are coming due for replacement and so I've been thinking a lot about new vehicles.

If you take your vehicle offroad on any kind of regular basis you are clearly in the minority and the car makers have basically written you off. For 2014 Jeep has reintroduced the Cherokee but its based on the Dodge Dart chassis and while it has loads of technology and has been lauded as a good offroader the air dams down low tell the whole story.
My Ranger has lived a tough life, its hauled wood, snowmobiles, cars and junk. Its gone to the dump into the city and into the woods. The limited slip differential has made it much more capable than I ever expected and I'm pleased with that. Its rough riding on the highway but its backwoods prowess more than makes up for its lack of onroad manners. Fuel economy is terrible, its almost exactly the same as the V8 Dakota it replaced which is crazy considering its V6 engine is a whole liter smaller in displacement, its shorter, narrower and lighter...

So anyway what are our choices? Well the Ranger is no more, Dakota is no more, Liberty is no more so we can't go back to where we came from. The Colorado was a leading choice in the last round but its no more leaving the big 3 with zero choices in a mid-size or smaller truck. Same goes for SUV, the Durango is a car, Escape and Explorer are cars, Chevy's midsize appears to be the Equinox which is a car. The Wrangler is the last real SUV standing from Chrysler corp.
From the east the only players left are the Nissan Xterra and Toyota's FJ Cruiser. Both are available with offroad specific models but you're going to pay for it. I'm always amazed by the people who pay $30,000 and then take the truck into the woods.

On the pickup front we're looking at either a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier. This is driven by the fact that there just aren't ANY midsize pickups other than those 2. I don't particularly want a full size truck, especially not an extended cab, they're so big and hard to park. Interestingly the full size Chevy and Ford with a v6 don't really get any worse gas mileage. I'm thinking we might be able to get away with a single cab pickup if we got a cap on it. Traditionally we use the pickup to go to camp and carrying our luggage and the dog has been a big problem. Realistically we could get away with an SUV and be better off but as I wrote above there really aren't a lot of choices and strangely the Xterra gets slightly WORSE mileage than the Frontier...

In the end it'll be what we can find. As I've said before I really don't want to drop $30,000 on a truck that gets worked, I'd rather find another $10,000 (what I paid for the Ranger) truck and run it for 5 more years. We've had to put some money into the Ranger but not a terrific amount, certainly not $20,000. Angie says we should buy something brand new but I think she doesn't realize that we'll be buying a new truck every 5-10 years for the rest of our lives and that the amount per year is probably more important than anything else. At 5 years the Ranger has cost (based only on purchase price) $2,000/yr. The Dakota cost me $16,000 but was only 3 years old. We ran that for 9 years so I got that for $1,700/yr. If we pay $30,000 for a truck we'd have to run it for almost 18 years to get the same kind of numbers and the issue here is of course that it'll rust out before we get anywhere near that...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

De-stickered and got a sticker!

I'm way out of order now but the other day I finally got down to removing the ugly bumper stickers on the Jetta. One had weathered to the point it was completely illegible, the other was for some place in Puerto Rico that I've never been to. I'm really not a fan of bumper stickers anyway, especially not political ones. Does anybody ever vote for anybody because they see a bumper sticker? Are you driving along debating Romney vs Obama and suddenly that sticker puts you over the edge?

Fortunately most stickers aren't that hard to remove. I used a hair dryer and a razor blade and it was quick work.

Now that I've been all down on bumper stickers I have an admission to make.We went to Pickety Place for our anniversary dinner and I found this little critter:

I couldn't pass it up and the best part is that its on a magnet so I can remove it with no hassle at all. Its really just a sticker on a magnet so I gave it a quick shot of clearcoat to make it last longer. We actually got 4 total of these magnets, look for the others in future posts.

Last note I got the car inspected, that is to say I "got a sticker" which means we're fully legal and on the road!