Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fall Maintenance

Just thought I would go over a quick checklist of some items that I'm working on today to get my car ready for the Fall (and winter) months. This morning was the first cold day since I bought my car so it got me thinking about getting ready for winter.

I noticed yesterday that a front tire looked low on air. I checked it today and sure enough they are all low on air. 25psi on three and 20psi on one. I'll be filling them up right as I leave work today. Also, I figured I should get around to fixing my windshield washer reservoir.

When I bought the car, I noticed it was out of washer fluid, so I bought a gallon from Wal-mart, and filled it up. Next day, no washer fluid...did I forget to fill it up I thought? Nope, when you fill it up, it just runs out with almost no resistance. It seems the grommet around the pump is shot (stupid 23 year old rubber), and won't hold water anymore. I thought about possible fixes, including a new grommet, but have decided that the easiest fix will be to use some gasket sealant compound and just make a fresh seal around the pump. I'll note whether this works or not.
Anyone else got a way to fix this quickly, easily, and inexpensively?

One thing I haven't really thought about is that diesel fuel can gel in the winter. This shouldn't be a problem with my car considering this far south (west Georgia) we rarely get sub-zero temperatures, but it is something to keep in mind.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tiny fuel lines

As I just mentioned, my injector return lines are seriously bleeding fuel now, thanks to more fuel getting to the engine through some new filters. However, I have visited 4 different auto parts stores to find some 1/8" I.D. (inside diameter) fuel line to replace it with. No one has it, and all I get is confused looks.
I shouldn't say no one, because Advance Auto does have 1/8" fuel hose (for chainsaws) in 2' sections ($1 a foot) that I tried. It technically works, but it worked practically work. For one thing, its clear PVC hose that will probably not last too long against diesel fuel, and also it won't actually go onto the hose fittings. The hose is too thin and flimsy to fit over the barbs on the hose attachment points. I got one section on with that and its working, but I think that I will go with a solution designed for this purpose.

The best (and cheapest) source I have found for these hoses is online. is a biodiesel/veg oil conversion website that carries hoses and other misc. parts for these Mercedes.
They have a specific kit for this replacement ($30 shipped) and its also biodiesel resistant so if I ever decide to start pouring soybean oil into the tank, it won't eat these hoses up (just all the other hoses). Okay, so I'm not converting my car to biodiesel, or veg oil, but I'm not ruling it out especially if diesel fuel keeps creeping up in price.

When I bought this car (5 months or so ago), diesel was cheaper than regular unleaded here at the local truck stops. Now, its more than premium unleaded. This is very annoying. Hopefully I will get that extra fuel mileage I've been hoping for once I have all this maintenance taken care of.

Also, my fuel treatment experiment is officially over. I tried Startron fungicide and Marvel Mystery Oil in it for about four tanks and didn't see much in the way of mileage increase. However, I think the startron might have loosened some stuff up and caused the fuel filter to get clogged.
Maybe, just maybe I'll see a large fuel mileage jump with this next tank of fuel now that the filters are new, and the injector return lines aren't spilling $3.11/gallon out all over my engine.

More Maintenance

Yesterday I changed my fuel filters. Yes, two of them. If you own one of these cars, this is no surprise to you, but for me, this is a little different. One looks like an oil filter, the other is a typical plastic inline fuel filter. Apparently, the inline filter was really clogged. It was also installed backwards. Don't know who put it in, but they didn't a good job of it. It uses about 8" of fuel line to connect it to the primer pump, and that seemed to be in bad shape, so I bought a foot of high pressure fuel hose to replace it. Inspection of the hose after it was off

I can really see a difference in engine performance now. Hopefully I will get a good increase in fuel economy since I don't have to stomp on it to accelerate anymore. However, I tend to have a lead foot, so I need to try and be conservative with the throttle. Stupid diesel is over $3 a gallon right now.

Today I took a nice long ride down the interstate (I-20 towards Atlanta) and noticed a much smoother ride with no problem at all getting up to cruising speed (you know "70"). The only downside to this new found power is that the injection return lines now pour fuel out beside the injectors. Before, they only slowly leached fuel out, but the increase in fuel has them working full time now. Time to order a replacement set.

This is a really easy repair item, and only took me about 30 minutes including cleanup time.