"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ex bought a new car...

Well, it's new to her.

L bought a 2003 5 speed cavalier. She is probably thinking that I won't be able to resist the impulse to fix it when it breaks...I think I won't have a problem...

Oh, I may help out on occasion...just to be a nice guy. Irony: this is exactly the sort of vehicle I was pushing as a replacement for the white '96 cavalier -- two or three years ago.

What brought on this extravagance? The '96 lost it's steering. L was noticing puddles in the driveway (as was I) and that the steering on the car seemed to be getting a little "heavy". She finally brought it home one day early last week complaining of a "grinding noise" and claiming that the garage she took it to wanted to sell us a new tie-rod end for only 300$. I took it for a short spin and after parking it asked her, "when was the last time you filled up the power steering fluid?", "It's fine...I think", she answered.

The reservoir was empty. Bone dry.

I topped up the fluid and the steering response was almost normal. Renewal of pressure in the system busted the leak wide open...and it was dry less than two days later. She had it re-filled and it now was shaking so bad the garage now claimed the entire rack was shot. I don't blame them, that's what I thought too...

...at first.

The Haynes manual is fairly specific on the procedures for replacing the hoses, seals, or even the entire assembly. All of the above procedures include a *vital* final step:

If the fluid level in the system has gone below minimum...you have to bleed all the air out of it before it will work.

Otherwise the air in the system will cause the wheels to track really roughly...and inputs to the steering linkage will have the wheels jigging all over the road.

Which is what it's doing now.

Even if the entire assembly is toast I can get a replacement for under 400$. The new hoses will cost 110$. The job will involve jackstanding the front end of the car and supporting the rear engine support frame with a jack. This means I better finish up with the '95 caravan soon, because my stands and floor jack are currently supporting it. L sold me the cav for 50$, the value of two tires she put on it earlier this year. She's keeping the other new tire, so I will need a replacement rim. This will be an additional 25$ at a wrecker. Getting a couple more salvaged tires swapped around at someplace like action tire will probably be another 50$ or so.

I'm looking at 600$ to get the beast running again. It's worth about 1000$ tops in running, aircared condition. Perhaps I ought to sell it as well. Still leaves the question of what I'll be driving once the snows come...

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