Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When it rains it pours!

When it rains it pours. After my stuck on the side of the road hassle with the shutoff solenoid I was all set to take the '98 to Syracuse last Wednesday. Got about 20 miles from home, took a freeway offramp and got a huge cloud of steam from under the hood. Turns out the upper radiator hose had spat out the coolant temp sensor when the metal clip holding it broke.

Fortunately there was a little garage nearby and the guy made me a temporary replacement clip out of wire. Unfortunately I'd lost the seal for the sensor so I couldn't get it sealed in. I tied another piece of wire around the sensor to hold it in tight and wrapped a towel around the whole thing which got me back home with only 2 gallons of water leaked out but it wasn't any fun.

IDParts provided a new sensor, clip and seal for cheap enough that I didn't think it was worth figuring out what I needed for a seal. On Friday I stopped at Harbor Freight and bought a selection of o-rings. I'll keep a couple in the car from now on. The clip in question was metal, the replacement is plastic so it won't rust but it might fatigue and break none the less. I went to a junkyard and found another metal clip. I'll keep an eye on the plastic clip and replace if I think its warranted.

The replacement part in place:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Whats this?

So whats a car guy doing with that, that, thing?

The new truck search continues and our plan originally was to try a Toyota FJ. Turns out the dealership is closed on Sundays in the summer time so we headed back to the Nissan dealer. We tried an Xterra which I was surprised that I really liked. Considering the Xterra is a Frontier in different trim I expected not to fit right in it. Turns out either I was in a better mood or the Xterra has different seats. We both liked the Xterra a lot which means I've got some thinking to do.

The star of the day was the leaf though. The Jetta broke again on me on Wednesday so I'm a little unhappy with it. If I could get my employer to install a charging station the Leaf could just handle my commute. So seeing that the dealership had one out front we opted to give it a shot.

I'm pleased to say its an impressive little car. Okay actually its not that little, its bigger than a Versa which is Nissan's cheap car. Its got leg room similar to my Jetta and has a nice little storage area behind the back seat. The car makes a happy little computer chime, the "shifter" is more like a computer joystick and it really doesn't shift anything since there aren't "gears" to shift through anyway. The car gets right up and moves when you put your foot on the go pedal and makes almost no sound at all. The most fun we have was watching the battery recharge as we went down hills.

Would I buy one? Maybe. At $30,000 they're pricey but considering a full recharge on the battery is going to run around $3 the price gets offset. There is some state money and even some from the power company too. Unfortunately my 59 mile one way commute doesn't really fit the Leaf's 100 mile capacity without a recharge at the work end. Angie's 20 mile round trip commute would make way more sense. Unlike everything else this is probably a car I'd lease, think about how far electric cars have come in the last 3 years (like started existing completely pretty much) then think about how far they might go in the next 3 years. This is one where trading up makes sense...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jetta breakdown #2

Back in December the Jetta left me stranded when the oil feed from the engine to the turbo let go. Yesterday it left me again, this time the power feed to the fuel feed solenoid failed. I got towed home and hooked my laptop to the car, the computer showed the fault right away. Today after work I put a jumper on the solenoid and the car started right up. I made a mental note to put the jumper wire in the car in case this happens again.
After some searching I found:

A weatherproof butt connector fixed the problem and we're off to the races.

While I was there I found another wire which I thought was for the reverse lights. Its not but I'm glad I fixed it anyway. I also spent some time trying to figure out why the remote trunk release doesn't return. It'll pop the trunk but once popped it stays popped.until the mechanism is manually reset. The mechanism looks like it ought to manually reset itself and playing with it on the bench it will reset occasionally but not every time. I think maybe a spring would do the job, need to look at some at the hardware store.

Looking at trucks again

It feels like just yesterday we were buying the Ranger. Alas its been nearly 6 years and while the engine and transmission are still good the Ranger's body is just giving up. Its got a bunch of holes in the bed and the rockers are rusting away. Worst the middle crossmember is just evaporating.

So for the past couple months we've been searching around. So far we've tried:
2006 Toyota Tundra - loved it but people want stupid money for them
2011 Toyota Tacoma
2006 Toyota Tacoma - I don't get why people love Tacomas. I didn't like either particularly and both had 6spd manual transmissions that I hated. They're like driving a 5 ton truck from the '50s, imprecise, long throw, heavy clutch.

2011 Nissan Frontier - Nissan's seating position kills me, the seats never go back far enough, and this crew cab truck shouldn't be having that problem.
2014 Nissan Frontier - This one was an access cab vs the crew cab above, Angie hated it, said it felt claustrophobic.
2011 Nissan Titan - POWER! The 5.6l v8 in this makes it easily the fastest, most powerful pickup we tried. Seating position is better than the Frontier but because the engine is tucked into the cab the truck gets a really long weird dash area.

2010 Chevy Silverado - Where the Japanese can bend space to make a car feel bigger on the inside than the outside would indicate Chevy has managed the opposite. This truck felt very big and ponderous to drive. I didn't mind it too bad but Angie hated it.

2010 Ford F150 Lariat - The Lariat is the top of the line, full of upgrades and features. Nice truck, the first crew cab where I could really stretch out in the back seat. Way more truck than we need and way more money than I want to pay.
2014 Ford F150 STX - The only access cab full size truck we've driven. We both liked it a lot and if the dealership had come down $3000 more we'd have bought it. As it is I've come to my senses, buying a new truck doesn't make any financial sense for us, we don't drive it that much. If we were looking to pay that much it'd make more sense to buy a jalopy of a pickup and a new car for me.

2004 Dodge Dakota - I did this one on my own today as a bit of a lark, I happened to see it and stopped in. Unfortunately it was a smokers car and while I know I could get the smell out I know Angie would give me hell over it. Worse it wandered badly down the road, the AC didn't work, the radio didn't work, the driver's seat was all squished out and had cigarette burns. I'd consider buying it but they wanted nearly $8,000, then I'm going to have to put maybe $1500 into it. Maybe I'll go back and point out all its faults and get them down some. I'd probably do it at $5,000.

Anyway the search continues. The drive today reminded me how much I like Dakotas although I hate how they changed the body style in 2005. Dodge seemed surprised sales of the Dakota slumped, I'm not.