In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A Lot of Plastic

Our car developed a rattle on Sunday. Inspection revealed a cooling fan with a wobbling blade. A little research of costs, lack of availability of the part from the parts house, and how a dealer waits for such opportunities, led me to taking on the task of replacement.

I found the fan on the internet, but was suspicious of buying from the sources. Two things crossed my mind:

    One was knowing the third party manufacturer could unload what they know as substandard parts onto the market at a reduced price.

    The other was the time for delivery and how the wrong part could lead to a long time of an inoperable vehicle.

I disassembled with a little help from a online video. I wasn't complete, but insured my effort to do the job myself prevented a huge cost from a mechanic. The factory recommended replacement called for evacuating the AC system, and the additional costs to replace a dryer, with the refrigerant. One bolt that required a little ingenuity to reach was the reason for the extra step.

After finally removing the fan, I inspected the blade. The bearing in the motor was completely worn, or the housing for the bearing failed enough to prevent keeping the bearing in place. Regardless, removing the blade, and replacing the motor, was out of the question. It's all plastic, the blade is pressed on, and any attempt to remove either would probably destroy the housing, if parts were available. 

A call to the dealer for the part led to a few moments of trepidation. The first words from the counter man was: "It's been on backorder. Let me see if it's available." After a few moments, he continued: "I have four, and can have it here tomorrow." He told me he would send me a text with a link for payment, and he would order the part as soon as I completed the transaction." 

I paid for the part ($448) and called to confirm the order. After confirmation, I went on to other tasks and hoped the man at the counter wasn't telling me a fib to sell a part. 

Tuesday morning, I called the dealer to ask about the status of the part. He told me he was about to text to tell me the part was in. A 20 mile trip to the dealer, a little over an hour of my time, and I was ready to put the car back together. 

I was slow with my replacement to guarantee not forgetting the order of reassembly. After completion of the task, starting the vehicle, a short test drive, and some relief, the car was back in service. All in all, it took about five hours of my time, but with skill and knowledge, a good mechanic could do it in less than two hours. 

I was a little amazed at how much of the vehicle was plastic and held together by push clips. It seems flimsy, and I wonder if the plastic will age as badly as plastic parts in the past. It is what it is, and the demand for lighter vehicles had led to where we are. 

So, another major/minor problem is handled. Onward I go through retirement, and thank God for the ability to do some of the things that can bankrupt those on a fixed income. It's my blessing and gives me peace.


  1. Good on you! I stopped working on my cars about 20 years ago. Way too much computerized thingys and no room to work on it due to the manufacturer shrinking the engine compartment.

    1. The computers are the bane of a mechanic, but sure add a lot of life to an engine. Good tuning, maximum air flow, and the addition of specialized oil additives have doubled the lives of engines.

      There are after market software products that allow shade-tree mechanics the tool to examine the engine codes of an onboard computer. From what I've seen, the skill to understand the diagnostic sequence is most important.

    2. Jess, those things might have doubled the lives of engines, but there's no real savings involved.
      When I run the numbers, the cost of those computers, plus specialized additives, plus the additional need to hire mechanics instead of DIY, plus the additional shop time due to poor access, pretty much eats up the savings from reduced replacement over the life of the engine.
      In other words, if we still built things old school, we could afford to replace the engines twice as often. And work on them ourselves. And offset any environmental issues. On top of all that, steel is 100% recyclable, while all those plastic parts are garbage forever.
      So in the end any advantages are illusory.

    3. That's true, and mechanics wouldn't need to charge over $100 for diagnostics to pay for their computerized tools that require expensive upgrades every year. Unfortunately, most people don't understand how much they could save without the demands of government to build cars that perform to the specs of a bureaucrat. The costs go up every year, and people still flock to the dealer for the bells and whistles.

    4. I have said before and I will say again, when you have to use a $5000 scan tool to simply replace the brakes, it is time to go old school.

    5. After years of observation, I realized too many mechanics supplement their income with diagnostics, and chicanery. Heavy equipment mechanics can be the worse, since the older mechanics either can't, or won't do what requires climbing, heavy lifting, and filth only a younger man can do. The ignorance of the younger folks can be expensive, but unavoidable.

  2. Nice work.. i just replaced the fuel pump and strainer in my 1996 Volvo. A job that was absolutely brutal for a back yard mechanic.. but shes back in service. Cheers.

    1. I've seen hatches in some vehicles that give access to fuel pumps, instead of dropping the tank. That's more than important.

      Years ago, we had a truck at work that had the fuel pump fail. The lack of foresight by those involved didn't have the strainer replaced in the process. A few days later, the strainer clogged again, and the arduous task of removing the tank was demanded again.

  3. I got an old 2000 AT&T one ton 4x4 and the front brakes were shot- so was the right ball joint.
    I was there bashing, sweating and cursing for about three days on and off.

    The wife said "You didn't look like you were enjoying that. Maybe you should hire it out next time."
    I told her -I don't enjoy doing it, but I didn't have to spend on the plus side of $2K to get it done either.-

    1. I had a drag link go bad on a pickup years ago. I spent about an hour beating on one joint with a hammer and a ball joint fork.

      I was working in the field office shop, since it had a concrete floor and tools. The mechanic, who was off work, happened to wander in as I was working. He asked:

      "Why are you doing that the hard way?"

      I answered: "I didn't know there was an easy way."

      He went to his tool box, removed an air tool with a fork, connected it to air, and handed it to me.

      What had taken me an hour before took about three seconds with the right tool. I was amazed and realized how a good shop is the best advantage to mechanic work.