Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quality Tire.

Funny things happen sometimes, in a good way. Yesterday, I took my Buick Rendezvous (yes it is a truck) to have Walmart look at and possibly replace the left front tire because of some damage to the sidewall. I purchased a road hazard warranty and confirming this from my receipt, they proceeded to replace the tire. Then they presented me with a $40 bill without clearing it with me first. Problem was, I had $15 to my name. I drove my vehicle home on a doughnut and the now disassembled tire in my cargo area. Because there is not enough room to place a full sized spare and the winch out of commission anyhow, that's where it had to set.
Today, done with work and still thoroughly miffed over the whole ordeal (the service department not telling mebefore doing the work and nearly disabling my ride), I went to get a second opinion. I've used Quality Tire on Grand River in Lansing, Michigan for putting used rims on said ride and they did a bang up job on that. The service tech looked the tire over and said the damage was cosmetic and did not need replacement. They not only remounted the tire back on my rim (steel wheel) they gave me a suggestion or two on getting the spare tire safely put away. A new winch for this car is in excess of $150 to $200. Used ones are not an option as these seldom last for more than a year or two in Michigan's salt and snow. I don't have $200 to replace something I can rig up for $5 or $10 that'll probably outlast the vehicle. When I get it figured out, I'll give the details in a future post. After all: what creativity fails to buy, the wallet must. Leaving an unsecured spare in a trunk, much less a passenger area is not an option either. Maranatha!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Road Hazard Warranties.

Just a little heads up on this one. When you buy tires for your car or truck, they're going to try and sell you what's called a road hazard warranty. These can cost $10.00 or more per tire. My advice is to read the fine print, because what tire companies are doing is pro-rating the wear on tires, plus adding if the price goes up. So instead of getting a free tire, you could be paying out of pocket up to the price of the tire. I bought a set of four Goodyear Viva 2 tires for my Buick last year and one of the sidewalls was damaged today.

I took my truck to Walmart and they proceeded to remove the tire and mount on a new one. The problem was that they charged me $40.00; money I didn't have. I paid $70 for the tire in June of '10. They wouldn't put the old tire back on the rim, and had a hell of a time getting my spare out. So now I'm driving on a road spare that's balder than Yul Brenner and my old tire and rim are in the back. Not blaming anyone, but a reminder would have been nice. On top of that, now I've got to figure out a safe way to remount my spare tire, or get rid of it altogether. The spare tire holder is broken and there's no safe way to fix this. A replacement unit will likely cost a small fortune. Maranatha! This time I really mean it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why didn't I think of this? Blogger I.E. 9 Fix.

I've had major issues with Internet Explorer 9 since downloading it on my computer. 8 had at least some lip service to speed, but 9 has been a bit of a pain. Add to this the inability to publish your blog on Blogger. The fix is to click the compatibility button in the address bar and the interface should change a bit. Once this happens, go ahead and publish your document. I may even change my mind about I.E. 9. Maranatha!

Revelation Commentary, From a Handyman? Part Ten

Revelation 7 (KJV)
1.And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor the sea, nor on any tree. 2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whim it was given to hurt the earth and sea.
3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Let me point out that even in these times, most knew the earth was a sphere and not flat. I learned this all through public school saying that Christopher Columbus went a sailing the ocean blue in 1492 to prove the earth was "round" and not flat. This is such a heaping helping of malarkey that has propagated ignorance since then. It has given athiests reason to try and disprove the bible when common sense should dictate this is a figure of speech, Ahem.

Rather than go through the who chapter this time, I will point out that there are 12 tribes of Israel, but two are missing in this list. Dan and Ephriam are the ones being left out of this sealing. They're being replaced by the tribe of Joseph and I believe Judah. This by no means says that individuals of these tribes won't receive salvation, because Dan and Ephraim WILL receive land in the Millenial Kingdom.

For anyone who says "but we don't know who's in what tribe" I would reply, "but God does." Depite the many persecutions and attempts to wipe the Jews out forever, God has kept them as a distinct race of people. They still have work to do and 144,000 Jews will carry on with His work during the tribulation period. They will suffer for sure, but until God is done, these tireless soldiers for Christ will fight on.

Power Window Diagnosis and Repair.

To be blunt, power windows are one of the most hazardous systems to work on. Not only do you have to contend with electrical issues, but you're dealing with unhemmed sheet metal that cut you and moving parts that can remove digits from your hands. Breaking a door glass can also injure you and at least scare you half to death. Please use common sense and wear gloves and eye protection, and pack your patience. I have no control over the quality of your work, so do these at your own risk.

Power windows are common on nearly every vehicle save for the most stripped down work trucks or economy cars. It's nearly impossible to buy a car without this feature. Unlike roll up windows, which are pretty straightforward to diagnose and repair, power windows can seem to be a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Add to that the prices of the parts and the service for a mechanic to fix. This will make anyone want to just resort to duct tape and a shower curtain. This is neither safe nor practical and can block your vision. I can relate about the price of parts, but the alternative can be much worse. Besides, you need to know what the problem is before you make the auto parts store rich anyway. This article will hopefully get you started, if not pointed in the right direction. This is also going to be pretty generic, but the cars in question are a 2003 Ford Taurus and a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am.

The power windows on a late model car do two, three, or four things. They raise the door glass up, lower it down and in the case of express windows (which are very hazardous when working on them) lower and or raise the door glass with a short touch to the switch. If the window fails to do any of these things, or doesn't stay up where you put it, this classifies as a problem. This can either be mechanical or electrical. Mechanical issues are when the motor runs, but the window doesn't move or doesn't stay up. Electrical issues are when the switch is operated, but the motor will not operate at all. Mechanical issues will always require taking the door apart, while electrical ones may or may not need it at all. Also, if you can lift the glass manually (be careful), then the problem is mechanical. I'll cover the electrical issues first if you don't mind.

My friend brought in a 2003 Ford Taurus. She couldn't roll the driver's side window up, none of the other windows would operate at all. However, the driver's side window would roll down and with a lot of finagling, would finally roll up. She was the one who used the proverbial shower curtain and duct tape to block out the weather, and it's been since April. Between moving, here schedule and mine, it's been hectic, but I digress. She didn't have much money and I had only a few troubleshooting tools on me. In fact, all I had was a test light to figure this out. The Taurus has two power window circuits, one with a relay for the driver's side express down and the other controls the up and down operation of the four windows. The one controlling the express down is a dedicated circuit, with fuse and relay. The one for the windows going up and down is shared with several other functions, including the adjustable pedals. Since all of these worked and the fuse was good, we knew there was power at the circuit, but there was no power to the switch.

Since there was no wiring diagram on the Internet, nor did my friend have a service manual on the car. I pried up the boot covering the wiring to the door and sure enough, I found a wire to the switch that was broken and corroded. Even with the very robust design of the wiring harness on the Taurus, there is the possibility of the wiring bending back and forth at the joint between the frame and the door; cracking the insulation and eventually breaking the conductor inside. The most obvious thing to do is to strip back the ends and splice the wire. However, there wasn't much slack left after removing the corroded parts of the wire. Use a wire of the same conductor thickness or slightly bigger, and you can solder or crimp these ends together, leaving some slack. Thread the ends through the boot and hook up the wire. All there is to it. Shrink wrap will work better than tape, but money was tight. The repair was less than $2.00 in parts, so much for expensive.

Mechanical repairs are a different animal and will always require taking the door apart to find and fix the issue. On the Grand Am, there are three screws to remove. One at the door handle, another under the door handle trim and the third under the reflector. Remove the panel, the water shield and roll the window down. There's a plastic insert on the slider that attaches to a fitting on the cable. Frequently, this plastic will crack and the weight of the glass will cause this to break; not allowing the window to stay up (this is for the rear ones, the front ones use a cable and pulley set up). This will need to be replaced unless you want to chance using an adhesive to repair the plastic. The price of a broken door glass will exceed that of a regulator. Remove the screws holding it to the door glass and carefully move the glass to the bottom. Take out the screws holding the regulator to the door save for three of the Phillip's head ones. Loosen them up and swing out the parts. Now take those screws out and install them in the same spots in the new part. These will help you get them in position while you put the rest of the screws in. If you need to dummy this one up, a pair of vise grips on the track under the window will hold it up until you can afford the part. This is about $35 at a wrecking yard to about $100 at the auto parts store. Maranatha!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Forgiveness, or tearing up your hit list.

We've all had people that have wronged, or we have perceived have wronged us is some way. No one is immune and neither is this writer. Far too much of my 41 years on this earth has been spent brooding about those who have "done me wrong." It could be the young lady who spurned my invitation to the dance or the young man with the bad attitude who still got the job I thought I deserved. These are just two examples I can remember offhand. Both hurt, especially when the young lady got asked out and accepted another young man of higher social standing. It really hurt when I got laid off from the precarious position in the union after the other guy got his position. After all, didn't I deserve to get this chance?
Maybe you're secretly waiting for a silver lining in all of this. I got fired as maintenance supervisor from a property management firm in 2006. Without going into much detail, it was having superiors, customers, coworkers and even vendors turn against me after much heartache. My hope was to get another job quickly and for this firm to suffer in some way. Not good. Even though being a blood-bought, God-fearing, Spirit-filled Christian (which I still am) I was not immune to these feelings of resentment and anger. They had consumed me as much as if not more than most.
I did get a new job within a week, but this did not satisfy my anger toward the property management firm. I was still in that trap of resentment that cast a dark cloud over every positive happening in my life. My anger was negating any vestige of victory over adversity.
This is in no way to sound like a motivational speaker. I still have failures in this life and believe it or not are still people who wrong me. The difference is not dwelling on this, in the perceived positive or negative aspects for all parties involved. The fact is that person or persons who wronged you are getting on with (or should be getting on) with their lives. We're all great at not carrying grudges when the other party admits their mistake, but what about when they don't? Human nature makes admitting mistakes anathema; especially with those in positions of authority. It's just the way it is. Even those who aren't are still not going to 'fess up and may not even realize they hurt you. In fact hurting you might not have even been their aim. It may have been in pursuit of another goal and whether or not they considered your feelings as a byproduct doesn't matter. They did it and you're eating your heart out feeling angry.
Let's turn this around. We're all looking out for number one; it's the most natural thing to do. We consider our needs and wants more important that those of the next guy. Let me clue you in, they aren't. Going back to the the blood-bought thing, if you are a Christian (and it's my sincere hope you are, dear reader) it is Christ and not you who are the center of your life. The only list anyone should ever concern themselves with is the Lamb's Book of Life and whether or not your name is in it. End of list. If you're thinking eternally, the rest should pale in comparison. I could go on and on;can post scripture 'til my hands bleed, but you all should know it. Time is so short. Maranatha!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Replacing a Blower Resistor on a Buick Rendezvous / Pontiac Aztec

It's 95 degrees outside (37 Celsius) and the air conditioning fan in your 'Vous or 'Tec is going full tilt. Refreshingly cool air travels from the dashboard to your overheated frame. Halfway into your commute, the flow of cool air slows to a crawl. You feel the dashboard and yes, it's still cold, but the sound of air rushing is no longer there. You try turning off the recirculating air and are rewarded with a little better airflow, but it isn't quite enough. Worried about freezing the dashboard, you finally relent and shut of the air conditioning and open the windows. The blast of hot, humid air is anything but refreshing.
It looks like the resistor and possibly the blower have just quit on your ride. While you could take this in and spend $350 to get this done professionally (and I couldn't blame you), the idea of tackling this yourself and saving some money is tempting.
As always, you are responsible for your own work. This is a deceptively simple job that could take you a couple hours easily. There shouldn't be too many safety issues, but you're working on the dash next to a bomb that could literally explode in your face (read airbag). The blower is also very powerful and you could get scrapes and cuts from a moving fan. You'll also be playing with electricity, which even at 12 volts is enough to weld tools to the metal parts of the car and cause burns. You could damage other, more expensive parts of your ride or cause a fire. Use common sense (that thing so rare it should be a superpower) and do this at your own risk.
You'll need a 1/4 drive ratchet, universal joint and/or swivel sockets. A 5/16" or 8mm as well as a Phillip's or cross point screwdriver are mandatory as is a door pad tool. A jump box will help with testing the blower when you get it out and possibly save your electrical system. Unhook the battery if you want and it would be a good idea. I'm a bit on the crazy side, so I just made sure the key was off.
Remove the hush panel under the right side of the dash. This pries off with a door pad tool at the top and you can usually pull out the fasteners next to the carpet with your fingers or pliers. Remove the wire connection from the blower and three screws holding it to the heater assembly. Two are visible and one is toward the firewall. No sweat.
The resistor is where it gets interesting. This lives between the blower and the firewall and is held on with three screws. One is visible and the other two are right next to the dad-blamed firewall. Better pack your patience getting these loose as there is NO ROOM between the resistor and the firewall. You can remove the one screw and try wiggling the part out, but you risk breaking the heater box. Go ahead and get a swivel socket and loosen 'em up.
Honestly, I couldn't tell you the first thing about diagnosing the resistor itself. If the car has more than 100,000 miles and or the connector to the blower is melted, replace it.
The resistor is about $30 new, don't buy this part used as it's a wear item and will probably fail in short order. Who wants to do this again any time soon? Not me. The blower is $95 new, so a little more care needs to be taken before condemning it. Inspect the female end of the connector on the blower, if it's melted a bit you might be still be able to reuse it, but this is a gamble that it could fail real soon. If there isn't any obvious damage, you can use jumpers or cut the end off the old resistor and strip the wires. Put the blower in a vise and hook a wire to the jump box. If the blower spins, you you can save it. If not, replace the blower. If the connector is damaged at all, I'd bite the bullet and replace it. No sense in doing this job again. You can buy a used blower and expect to get a fair amount of use out of it. These are MUCH less expensive than at the auto parts store; I got mine for twenty and some change. Install everything in reverse order and tighten the screws snugly. Hook up the Molex connectors to the resistor and blower and before you button up the hush panel, hook up the battery and check your work. If the blower has all five speeds, you can finish up and relax. You have my permission. Maranatha!