Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer Update

Well, I haven't had a chance to write anything up lately, but I haven't really done anything to my car recently either. I am planning a couple of projects, and some routine maintenance items in the next couple of weeks, but nothing is set in stone.
I'm really waiting on a job to come around. I have a possible one lined up, and if it goes through then I will definitely be doing some intense maintenance and work on the car.
The biggest thing right now is the transmission. I don't know what its doing, but it's not shifting correctly all the time. Sometimes it doesn't want to go into 4th gear. I bought a filter and pan gasket, and as soon as I buy some fluid, I'm gonna change it out and see if that helps. The problem (I believe) was caused by a loose vacuum connection on the shift modulator (or whatever the thing is called).
The next big issue is the wearing brake pads. They need to be replaced soon, and thats an easy job.

The most annoying thing that is bothering me right now is the front end is out of alignment. What makes it even worse is that its been this way ever since I changed the loose center drag link on the steering. That was a while ago, and its definitely wearing the tires unevenly. I hope its just too much toe-out, and not something worn out in the suspension/steering components.

I have some other ideas for things on the inside, but I'll leave them for another post.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Long time, no oil change

Well, I finally changed the oil again. I looked back and realized that I was overdue for a oil change. This one was at 275,600 miles. Added about two quarts in between changes, so not much leaking or consumption by the engine in that time.
Total cost was right at $30. $9 and something per gallon of oil (2 gallons total) of Mobil 1300 Delvac 15W-40, and $9.29 for the filter at AutoZone.
I would have saved a little on the filter price if I had payed attention and ordered one earlier, but I wanted to get it changed this week since I was already overdue for an oil change.

This past weekend I also changed out the primary (plastic) fuel filter. I noticed that it was a little sluggish on takeoff, and didn't smoke no matter how far I pressed the accelerator. I checked the fuel filter and it was nearly black inside. Changed it out for a new one and its running much better. I'll post some pictures of the before and after of the fuel filter to show how bad it really was.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Cruise Control is quite fickle.

The day after my last post, I tried the cruise while riding down the highway and it worked. Surprisingly, it worked correctly the entire ride and kept me at a constant speed easily. However, the next day, it didn't work. So I don't know if I want to try and bypass the cruise control or just leave it be and use it when it will work.

My highest priority right now is getting the A/C working correctly. It has apparently been converted to R134a judging by the fittings on the hoses, however, there are no stickers denoting this conversion. The problem with it right now is that it will not stay charged. I have successfully charged the system with one or two cans of refrigerant, but it won't hold a charge for more than a few days. Not very eco-friendly, but more importantly not very wallet friendly. Especially at $6 per can of R-134a.

I am debating whether I should I try and repair the system myself, or just take to someone and let them do the work. Honestly, I trust my work the most, but I don't know if I have all the tools necessary to do the work. First, I think I will price out the parts and see what it would cost me to do it, then shop around for the work.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cruise Control Thoughts

While changing my oil, I inspected the rest of the engine compartment for any trouble or problems. I'm also still learning about this car, so I traced wiring and followed connections here and there learning about some of the wiring under the hood.

One interesting connection was the cruise control plug. It comes from the throttle controller at the front of the engine and runs to a plug just behind the glow plug relay. This would be a good spot to tap into the cruise control motor and manually control it.

My cruise control stopped working shortly after I got the car. Even when it did work, it was unreliable and surged with the blinkers on the interstate. I think the switch in the steering column is most likely to blame, but the analog amplifier is another common failure point.

Either way, I would like to be able to just set the throttle and it hold there. A load based cruise control, not speed based. I'm researching it now, and will have more info when I get it.

First step, figure out the pin-out for that plug under the hood. Second is to figure out the working range (voltage and current) of the plug and motor.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Oil Change Again

Well, I changed my oil again, but I got messy this time. I thought this would be a good way to keep up with how often I change my oil and what mileage I'm at when I do.

I changed it yesterday and I'm just at 269,900 miles. Everything seems to be doing good, still leaking oil. It was about a quart or two low when I changed it, and I have put about two quarts in since I last changed it. I don't know what that comes to in quarts per miles, but it went down significantly when I replaced the oil filler cap. That thing was leaking horribly. The new one is working great now.

It still leaks a bit of oil from the turbo drain tube, but I haven't the time nor the guts to rip the turbo off right now to fix it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nearly a Year

Well, its been almost a year since I wrecked my Jetta. I know this because it was a week before my son was born. So that's an easy way to remember it (I won't say which is easier to remember).

Just thought I would post some of my thoughts on how my car is holding up right now and what I'm thinking about doing to it next. Generally, nothing is wrong with it. Meaning, I can drive it everyday and I don't worry about it breaking down. However, there are a few things I still need to take care of soon.

First, is the leak in the rear passenger floor board area. It pools water (as in sloshing around) whenever it rains any significant amount. This wasn't a problem during the drought last year, but now its quite annoying. I pretty much have to leave the rear floor mat out so that it doesn't hold water in it. The problem most likely stems from a clogged sun-roof drain. I just have to figure out where the clog is first. Anybody got any suggestions on where to start?

Second, the A/C is still not working correctly. Anything other than "Min" temperature gives me hot (really HOT) air out of the vents. The "Min" setting will turn off the hot air, but since my compressor is leaking refrigerant, I can't keep it cold with out putting a can of R-134a into it every two weeks (or less).

I guess I need to do a cost analysis and see how much I can pay to have it fixed so that its cheaper than buying a can or two of freon every month this summer.

PS--I'm writing this post using Windows Live Writer. First time using it, but I heard Paul and Leo talking about on Windows Weekly a couple of times now and thought I would actually use considering I installed it months ago.

Hopefully, I can post more than once or twice a month now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Steering rod is fixed! My shoulder is sore.

So I got that stupid thing changed out. It was not easy to get it out. I had to knock the snot out of it to get it to come off. 2 hours to get it off, and only 7 minutes to get it back on. Not a terribly difficult job, but took a lot of elbow grease (and shoulder grease) to get the old one off.
I had first bought the tie-rod puller that has the jaws and the screw to pull it off. It probably would have worked fine, but there was no clearance above the center link to fit the puller onto it. I did get it onto the passenger side by turning the wheel, but I found out that the jaws were too far apart and it kept slipping to the side. So, I made a trip back to the parts store to get the one recommended by a few friends. The "pickle fork" type device. They aren't technically supposed to take returns on tools, but the guy that sold it to me was there and I explained to him that it didn't work. He found the one I needed (the fork) and I got $3 back for the difference in price between them.
A note about their loan-a-tool program. You have to get them from the front and ask for one ( a loaner) specifically. I'll do this next time, especially for something that I probably won't use ever again. This tool was only $10 though, so I wasn't too worried about buying it. Parts and all were still less than one hour of labor at a shop.
Haven't taken it for a test drive yet, (waiting on the weather to clear up) but everything seems to be fine. No movement in the steering system now.

Hopefully, I can adjust the steering again to get the excess play out of the steering wheel. I'll put it a procedure for doing this, with pictures even. I did this a couple of months ago to remove some of the play out of the steering wheel. I think if I do this again, it will actually help and improve the steering.

Total cost for this job: $60.99
center link (drag link): $38 (from
ball joint separator: $10
Other stuff I ordered from the internet to get free shipping on the main thing I needed: $12.99 (stuff I needed anyway, but didn't want to order separately)