Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2008 Dodge Dakota Review Update.

This also applies to the 2004 through 2011 Dodge Dakota and Mitsubishi Raider quad cabs. There are some minor differences, but will still hopefully be useful for the purposes mentioned.

After about 3000 miles of driving, four new tires, a new headlight, an oil change and some interior repair I can hopefully give a little better impression of this truck. As business vehicle, it works for what I do; minor home repairs. It does a fair job of hauling the family and depending on the weather, excels at hauling groceries. I HATE the aftermarket Pioneer radio that changes colors and is too difficult to see in the daytime, plus having to use an aftermarket GPS that fits on the windshield. I'm looking into fixing both of those as soon as I can get my hands on a system that will fit into the dash. The fact there is no backup camera, especially with a toolbox that eats up a third of visibility of the rear window is also a bit disconcerting. I intend on installing one with the aforementioned head unit, AND replacing the toolbox with a topper as there is precious little storage space inside the cabin with any rear seat passengers, which is often. The best solution would be to get a regular work van and relegate this truck to what it does best, which is at home. Another solution would be buying a trailer, but this would mean installing a hitch and spending $2000 for a trailer and hooking up a brake control. For now, I'm going to make do.

In mixed driving, I get about 16 miles to the gallon in 2 wheel drive. It also requires a light foot on the accelerator, or else the rear tires spin. This was very evident with the poor gripping of the Kelly Safari AT's, which I replaced with Fuzion's (Firestone) posthaste. The grip is better and the noise is a lot less pronounced. Obviously, the past owner also had issues as the rears were nearly bald when I got the truck. Sure, they were 8 months old, but they were some crap tires. The drivers side door liner/armrest is being held together with Goop at the moment. A new one is about $250 delivered and there are no used ones available. Eventually, this will get fixed, but I've already spent $500 for proper tires on this beast.

Thus far, this truck has been very reliable. It has started and ran with no malfunctions save for the chintzy stereo, which nearly killed the battery. It stayed on when the dealership replaced the driver's side airbag inflater. I found out went I went to pick up the truck and the stereo was still on. A bad relay is the likely culprit, and again, this is getting changed as soon as I can locate a decent stereo. Maranatha!

Feeling the Heat: Preventing a Service Call on Your Range, Cook Top, or Oven

Happy December everyone. The holidays are well upon us and many of us are entertaining guests. Some of us have to cook a fair deal as it is, and being without a range is more than an inconvenience. It could be a major expense for some of us if meals need to be ordered in as well as the actual expense of repairing the range itself. Some are minor, while others destroy the range or result in hundreds of dollars in damage if the parts are even available. This is how people do it unwittingly every day.

  • Allow foods to boil over on cook tops. This can foul up a burner or igniter or short out a switch on gas ranges. With plug in style electric ranges, this can tear up elements, sockets, and switches. Not attending cooking is a big cause of house fires. 
  • Use aluminum foil to "protect" drip pans and line ovens. This voids your warranty on a new range and can destroy the liner already in it. It also causes drip pans to corrode. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/10/curses-foiled-again-lining-your-oven-can-void-the-warranty/index.htm
  • Place a hot lid directly on a glass cook top. When it cools after a moment, it can break the cook top. http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/5d/5df17660-b7a6-4068-9c8d-a375bb43f1d4.pdf
  • Use the self clean feature on your range. You can do this, but you should have a fan blowing against the oven and do this after the festivities are over. Too much heat can cause the thermal fuse to blow. This puts the entire range out of commission and these are not convenient to get to to replace. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Transmission Cooler Line Leak Fix.

Disclaimer: Transmissions are EXPENSIVE and depending on the make, year and model can be VERY difficult to remove and replace if a line comes apart under pressure and destroys same. Any hydraulic line should be considered under very high pressure and so much so as to inject fluid under your skin. The pieces are very sharp and can cause some nasty injuries to skin and eyes. Injuries due to slips and falls can happen do to fluid that is not in a container. Property damage can also occur including to pavement, your vehicle, clothing or other property. Wear personal protection equipment such as eye and hand protection when working on a vehicle. I have no control over the quality of your work, the condition of your vehicle, or the situation of your work environment. When in doubt over the quality of material, your competence or state of sobriety, use OEM parts and/or consult a competent automotive professional to perform the work. Perform any and all repairs at your our risk. This is for informational purposes ONLY!

Back in the day, I could re-plumb transmission lines on the family Oldsmobile in about ten or fifteen minutes with a hoist, wrench, a set of steel lines and my mitts to bend them to shape. Today, cars and trucks are using hybrid lines made of steel, with rubber hoses at the vibration points with crimped aluminum fittings at each end. What's more is that the steel ends are usually quick connected into the radiator and held into the transmission with a flange. In time, the steel part of these lines will rust out and develop a leak, meaning replacing the entire line with an OEM or fabricated part from a steel line and a flaring tool. This is the proper way to do it and will last the longest, but the problem is that most of us drive an old car or truck already. These lines are expensive for the OEM ones and a bit time consuming for the ones you fabricate. Especially if you want to do a professional job. Again, if the steel part is leaking, this is the only way to go.

However, the rubber hoses are usually the culprit, especially on the pressure line. They deteriorate with heat, age and pressure until they shrink inside of their crimped ends and form a leak. This is usually apparent by transmission fluid wetting the outside of these parts. The first thought would be to replace the entire part and that answer should be a resounding "yes"! Even so, there are times that the part is either not available from the neighborhood auto parts store, is too expensive or one or both of the ends is going to be too difficult to get at. While this should be a non issue with the proper equipment, there are instances that we don't have time to fight with these parts. As forbidding as this job looks, you should be able to do this with a minimum of tools, materials, time and money. You'll need, a funnel, a cutting wheel, or a drill motor with a 1/4" or 7mm bit, as well as side cutters, a set of pliers, a small tubing cutter, a utility knife or other material to cut the new hose. For materials, you will need transmission cooler hose that fits very snugly over the steel line (this is where a competent auto parts person helps, because if the lines slips off easily, IT WILL LEAK), a pair or two of fuel injection hose clamps to fit over those lines snugly (these differ from the heater hose clamps in that the bands are solid and a screw and nut cinch the clamp around the rubber line {heater hose clamps will NOT work}), and a quart or two of your favorite transmission fluid. You might also want a catch pan and rags to clean up spills.

Remove the aluminum crimps over the line with either a tubing cutter on the OUTER layer (Do NOT cut off on the steel line), by cutting lengthwise with a cutting wheel, or carefully drilling a series of holes so you can peel the crimp off the rubber line . Again, do NOT damage the steel line. Then you can remove the rubber hose and a new piece to fit. Install a clamp over where the serrations are on the steel line over the rubber and tighten securely. Carefully fill the transmission with enough fluid to replace what you lost, but do not overfill. Start your vehicle and check for leaks, tightening the clamps and wiping any fluid off the outside of the lines. For the next few days, make a habit of checking these for leaks and as long as they stay dry, mission accomplished. Maranatha!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Before Calling For Service...

...On Your Furnace
  • Check your filter, if it is dirty, replace it. One inch filters need to be checked monthly and replaced when plugged. These will cause your furnace to go off on limit and heat sporadically, if at all. 
  • Replace the batteries in your thermostat if it's digital. This is a frequent reason for a no heat. 
  • Are the switches on? Make sure the breaker, switch on the handy box, and the gas is turned on. 
  • If your furnace is a condensing one? If the drains are clogged, these furnaces won't operate. A condensing furnace has plastic pipes to vent the exhaust gases as opposed to a metal duct. These also have a plastic pipe that goes out the bottom into a drain or pump. It's a good idea to make sure the water is flowing into the drain or pump. The pump should be cleaned out twice a year.
  • Check your gas meter to make sure this is turned on.  
...On Your Water Heater. 
  • Is the thermostat high enough? Make sure that this isn't turned to "vacation". 
  • If your's is a standing pilot model, is the pilot on? 
  • Check you gas meter to make sure this isn't turned off. 
...On Your Dryer/Electric 
  • if it's not heating, or not heating enough, but tumbling okay, the circuit breaker or fuse might be bad. Turn this off then on to see if this helps. If so, you need to replace the circuit breaker or a fuse. Unless you know how to test for this, better call in a pro. 
  • Is the vent plugged? Vents that are higher up tend to get bird's nests. Check that the birdscreen on the vent caps is clean and if they're lower than two or three feet, it's best to remove them. 
  • Check the duct under the lint filter. If this is full of debris, it will slow airflow down. 
  • Is the venting longer than 25 feet? Each 90 degree elbow is like adding five additional feet of pipe/ Make sure that venting isn't crushed or kinked. 
  • Comforters, pillows, coats and other layered garments not drying on automatic cycle. Moisture sensors are designed to read the surface of a garment. Because of this the shell can be dry, but the lining sopping wet; use the timed cycle or take to the laundromat. 
  • Wrinkle Care cycle not working. These aren't designed to run continuously in this cycle, and "wrinkle care" doesn't mean "wrinkle free". Some units only move the drum a few inches every 30 minutes or so. 
...On Your Dryer/Gas
  • Same as electric, but since the heat comes from burning gas, voltage problems from the breaker will result in a no start. 
  • Is the gas cock turned on? 
...On Your Dishwasher
  • White spots on dishes? These are usually caused bu hard water. If you have a water softener, make sure this is operating. If there are hookups for one, you need to get one. 
  • Not draining and put in a new garbage disposal? Remove the drain hose for the dishwasher from the disposal and insert a screwdriver into the fitting. Likely the plug didn't get knocked out. A screwdriver, hammer and a pair of pliers will be needed to knock out the plug. 
  • Machine not cleaning? Clean the wash arms, inspect and clean the filter on some models. Use a good quality soap and drying agent. Run hot water on tap before starting cycle.
  • Dishwasher odor. High loop or air gap needs to be installed. A loop of the drain hose needs to be higher than the drain fitting and secured with a zip tie. This ill keep dirty water out of the dishwasher. 
...On Your Washer

  • Water leaks from front of door on front loaders. Clean the inside of the door as one hair can get between the seal and cause it to leak. 
  • Washer unbalanced. Double check it to make sure is is level. 
  • Washer not draining. Check to see if drain hose is in too far in the stand pipe. Six inches is more than enough. On many front loaders there is a cleanout filter that you can remove. Read your manual. 
  • Miscellaneous Washer issues. Modern washers don't like rubber backed rugs to the point it can interrupt cycles. Too much soap can cause a multitude of errors. Try cleaning it with a good quality washer cleaner and run it a few times before calling for service. Rugs need to go to the laundromat. Shoes should never be washed in a front load washer as these can damage the boot. 
...On Your Microwave (over the range) 
  • Touch pad acting erratically. Make vents are clear if you recirculate as condensation can build up. 
  • Not working. Check circuit breaker and plug first. 
...On Your Air Conditioner
  • Ice building up and poor airflow. Clean or replace the filter and run the blower. If the filter is clean you need to call a contractor. 
  • Fan outside works, but no cooling. Reset circuit breaker. 
  • Water leaks. Clean the drain trap if practical. 
  • Poor cooling on through the wall units with high electric bills. This is counter-intuitive, but the capacity on these units is limited. They need to run all day to remove the heat and humidity with the doors, windows and the vents inside the units closed. Starting the unit at five in the afternoon on a 95 degree day with 70 percent humidity with the windows open will only make it work harder and cost you more to operate. If the temperature coming out is 10 or 15 degrees lower than that going in, it's doing the best it can.  

A Look At Silicone Wedding Bands.

As a service tech and hopefully soon to be handyman, I've managed to lose or destroy 4 wedding bands in the past 21 years of marriage. The first one I nearly degloved a finger when it got crushed working at the prison in Southern Michigan, the second got lost when it got too big (mind you these were GOLD bands). I also arced a titanium one on a battery terminal and the last one is too small as my hands have swollen in recent years. My stepfather crushed his hand in a lift, and had he been wearing a wedding band, they would have had to remove his finger. For the past 20 years, I have seldom worn a piece of jewelry as the price has been too high for something I can damage or lose so easy. My hobbies are equally hard on rings. Car repairs, shooting (not so much lately) home repairs, also can cause a problem with metal rings.

On the other hand, no pun intended, there are considerations when working in people's homes especially with women. I believe in being professional and moral when working in people's homes and the presence of a wedding band provides a source of reassurance of your virtue. I love my wife and she understands that I'm not nor will probably never be a paper pusher or desk jockey. However, she would love to have me wearing a band as she has faithfully done over two decades. Even so wedding rings can and do scratch appliances, and contact with a live voltage source can result in a painful electrical burn. If 12 volts can weld a ring, imagine what 120 volts will do. I need my hands a little while longer...

This week, I stumbled on a solution in the form of a band made of silicone. It's not new for jewelry because bracelets have been made of this material for a decade or so. These come from a variety of sources. and are priced anywhere from a few dollars to $20. I got two of them for about $16 with shipping at amazon.com today. A black and a grey one (Mrs. Grace like the grey one). I ordered a size 11 and though the fit was tight at first, it has gotten more comfortable over the few minute I've had it on. The material is a medical grade, hypoallergenic, silicone. It looks like a ring, but is very light, soft and resilient. One might compare it to a rubber band, but a rubber band is constricting. This material is odorless, smooth and warm compared to the cold harness of a metal ring. Even though my fingers have swollen over the course of my work. this ring is fairly easy to put on and take off, not that you would ever need to take this one off for any reason. It won't scratch like metal, nor will it conduct electricity. If it gets caught one something, it will break long before a finger is amputated or degloved (this is when the meat is pulled from the bone).

Another contention is that I've allergic to metal and will get dermatitis wearing the wrong kind of watch or ring. Since silicone is inert, hopefully this won't be an issue. If anything comes up, I will update you. Maranatha!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When It's Best To Hire Something Out

I wished I could come up with a better title, and that my computer was set up, but the tablet will have to do. Tomorrow, the home office will be set up and I can type to my hearts content, or as long as my tendonitis holds off, but I digress. For those who follow this blog, we added a 2006 Pontiac Torrent to the Fixing Grace fleet in June of 2014. Thus far, we've replaced the alternator, battery, rear brakes, right rear bearing, a water pipe, and some bulbs. This is with 8000 miles of driving. We also had the car flood out due to a mafunctioning moonroof that let 3 or 4 inches of water inside. The insurance company replaced the pad, cleaned the carpet, while we paid to have the mechanism straightened out and deactivated. I also sealed the same with some clear silicone. Not one more leak since.
The one no that happened to the car in July was that a wheel bearing started calling it quits. I replaced the right rear after trying to use an old iPhone and zip ties to pin down the source of the noise.
The left front bearing was the one that had called it a day, and we got a "deal" on some new ones for the front.
The job was simple enough; one that I had done several times on other GM vehicles. There was a 34mm axle nut, four bolts holding the brake on, and three holding the bearing on the steering knuckle. Even though I broke a socket wrench, which was fortunately a Craftsman it took me less than 30 minutes to get these bolts undone. The problem was that the steel bearing had fused itself to the aluminum steering knuckle.
May I stop here for a minute? If you're an engineer, designer, metallurgist, or other decision maker for General Motors, may I pose this question? HOW, and why and WHAT don't you understand about galvanic corrosion? Was saving 40 pounds really worth making a scenario that even mechanics deem cringe worthy? While I agree that Ford's bearings are just as poorly serviceable, at least you can remove them with the proper tools without using a gas wrench.
I spent eight hours hammering, chiseling, hammering, pulling, spraying every anticorrosive known to man on this subhuman setup. I messed up my hands trying to get our car ready for the weekend. Instead, we drove my pickup to meet friends 85 miles away. All the while, the Torrent was propped on a jack stand with the spare tire on the three remaining studs.
I hit this so hard I damaged the brake shield and bent the flange, but the bearing would not budge. When I finally relented to take this to the neighborhood repair shop, I didn't even install the bolts into the bearing to drive this the block to same. It cost us about $100 to replace the beaten, worn and jacked up bearing with my provided replacement, but it was worth it in the end. The mechanic had to use a cutting torch to get this mess out of the steering knuckle. The result is that the car rides as quiet at the day we bought it.  
When two dissimilar metals are exposed to water or salt and water, they corrode. As I wear a brace on my wrist, and still feel the tingling in my hands, I've realized there are times it is much better to have someone else fix things. Even if you know what you're doing, there is a real savings in calling a professional. Time lost, damage to your body, lost tempers (mine was in check, but I was ticked) and the thought of having a vehicle propped up was costly enough. I'm all about d.i.y., but it's more than money at stake when repairs are involved. Make sure you can foot the bill when you do it yourself, because in many cases its best to call a pro who does is day in and day out. Even I don't fix cars that often. Maranatha!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Problems With Views

I've gotten comments from one user that they were unable to view my website. I can't view this from android or Safari on my iPhone, at least with the standard view. I've gotten on Internet Explorer without a problem , so you may want to try this or use "m" instead of "www". This had me pulling my hair for a bit, but it works and it's up and running. Sorry.

Getting the Desk Set Up.

The computer is down for the count and I'm coping with the Android tablet for a while. I got another one on lay away with Windows 7. If I thought Windows 8 was bad, 10 was horrible and the computer was unable to handle it. Trying to get cellular service on this tablet was another goal of mine that is proving to be a pain. I'm on Sprint and the tablet is set up on Verizon.  The rep at Sprint told me that Verizon would have to do something to take their stuff off of this so I could use tnis on my network.
Too complicated for me, and so we're going to address this tomorrow.
I did find a desk and chair Saturday,  for the princely sum of $32. The chair is metal and and the desk actual wood. What it didn't have was a keyboard.  A set of European drawer slides and a plank of Ponderosa pine fixed that.
I'll add pics later as I get this going. Maranatha!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

SOG Tactical Barrage Internal Frame Backpack SWAT Police Bugout Review.


It finally happened, or has been happening for the past month or so. My venerable Swiss Gear backpack has bit the dust. It had everything; was lightweight, durable and had lots of pockets for papers, a tablet and/or a laptop, phones, pens, markers, painkillers (you do this job for as long as I have and you'll know what I'm talking about), wet wipes, tissues, eyeglass cleaner, insect repellent even a change of clothes to name a few. This bag went in my truck and with me all the time, even on weekend trips out of town. It was used and abused and still looks great with the two and a half years I've dragged back and forth from my work vehicle to the house and from personal vehicle to hotel. The reason I've retired this backpack isn't because of looks, but because the zippers are coming apart almost constantly now. The bits and pieces I carry can exceed the price of the pack. In the future, I intend on getting an iPad and these are horrendously expensive to fix, much less replace.

 As it is black, I wanted to keep that theme going. After going through and spurning ten different models, including one that could separate into a fanny pack in camo, I found this one. It is the SOG Tactical Barrage Internal Frame Backpack. This means that it has a frame on the inside to actually use this for honest to goodness backpacking, or even as a bugout bag. It has a space for a water bladder, though one isn't included. There are also sternum and waist straps to make this easier to carry. As I carry this with the handle, all this is a bit superfluous, but I digress. The straps are all well padded and have a quality feel. There are also plenty of M.O.L.L.E. loops to attach items on the straps sides and back of this pack. I've already attached my mini pack to these on the side to hold a few small items. The user can clip flashlights, pens, a knife or anything else to this setup with only your imagination, and your back being the limits. While this can be had online for $70.00 plus shipping, I "stole" mine at Walmart for $45, which is about half of what I paid for the Swissgear pack.

The main compartment has five compartments, one drawstring, four zippered inside to organize toiletries, clothes, pens, markers, batteries, even cash receipts. There are holes for ventilation on the underside to help keep moisture at bay and the space inside is good for a spare shirt and trousers in case the day gets a bit dirty or wet. There are also side pockets that can also be used for pens, markers, a large flashlight, knife, or in my case a bottle of eyeglass cleaner and a lens case. The "tongue" of this pack also unzips to reveal eight more compartments, as well as the cavity inside. This also straps down against the main body of the pack to form another compartment. I'm not sure this area would be secure enough for a laptop or tablet. Probably better suited for a spare jacket or even a blanket. As there isn't much padding in this pack, you may want to make sure any electronics are in a case.

Speaking of electronics, at the top of this pack there is a compartment meant for a pair of sunglasses or a smartphone or two. While the opening is a bit small for my iPhone 6, it fit along with an iPhone 5c without a problem. There even another zippered opening at the top rear to accept a larger smartphone or small tablet with two pickets, one open one zippered. You won't have a problem finding a place to put your things in this pack and you might actually be able to find them again as this is well laid out. As was indicated before, there are M.O.L.L.E. loops all over same.

Compared to the Swissgear this replaces, this one has heft to it. It is made more for being outdoors on a policeman's back and not as a student taking this to class. Anyone using this as a school backpack will quickly grow tired of the material and straps to use this thing. Also, there is not meant to carry a laptop or tablet without some additional protection, However, as a handyman, this will fit the bill for me as I carry this into and out of my truck in inclement weather. It's more than big enough to carry my clipboard, and other necessities as well as a tablet in a hard or padded case in the main compartment. I will keep you posted as this pack ages and how I manage to use it.

The "Big" Announcement.

I said I was going to make an announcement, and today I'm giving you one. From here on out this is going to be a professional blog as much as possible. I will still be doing the reviews, expressing my faith in Jesus, but the object is going to be about home handy work and the peripheries of same. Whether it's fixing a water damaged cabinet, replacing the floor in a mobile home, or recording receipts, I will attempt to touch on it here. Maranatha!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

An Announcement...

Starting this Saturday, 9/12/2015 I'm going to be making some changes to the format of this blog. This is it for now.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

2003 to 2015 Chevy Express Manual Window Handle Fix

Chevrolet has gotten a lot of mileage out of the 1997 design of their full-sized van. They restyled the front sheet metal and interior in 2003 to look more like the trucks at the time. In 2008, the dashboard was revised to be a bit more functional. Chevy/GMC (the vans are practically identical) have revised the passenger side airbag, changed the engines and stopped making the 1500 model and the V-6 as of 2014. As of right now they are the only American style vans still made except for arguably the Nissan NV series. Even though the space is limited and the fuel economy is about 13 to 14 miles to the gallon, they are tough, reliable and plentiful especially on the used market for a good price. They ride great in spite of Michigan's potholed and cratered roads and can still be running north of 200,000 miles with basic maintenance.

However, the one gripe with these vans are the inside door panels. They are made of thin plastic and break easily.  What's worse is that these cost over $300 a side even if you just break the handle. Another problem are the window regulators on manual models. I imagine this is across the board on all GM and even on other makes, but EVERYTHING is built into one unit. When I had to turn my work truck around to do a U turn, I placed my knee up against the panel and promptly busted off the capstan (It looks like a capstan to me, and if you know the proper name leave a comment below) holding the window crank. Taking apart the door revealed that the lock, window regulator, all the mechanisms were riveted into a very large assembly that was also riveted to the door. This was $600 at the dealer; nice job GM! 

The replacement I got at a junkyard was less than complete and hacked of everything save the window regulator. The capstan that the window crank would affix to was unmolested, but held on with three crimp joints. I started by drilling these out with a bit just big enough to remove the broken part from the van. The retainer came off and so did the capstan along with some plastic parts that were also unbroken. Then I did the same to the mangled replacement part. A trip to the hardware store produced three Allen headed machine screws and stop nuts (I would use regular nuts and Locktite, but hindsight is also 20/20) to get this attached through the holes left by the drilled out crimp connections. You have to reach inside the door to get these on, so wear gloves and sleeves. Roll the window up and down before you button the door up. Lastly make sure the window crank is pointed toward the front when the window is rolled up to help prevent this from happening again. Maranatha! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kitchen Aid Under Counter Ice Makers: What Makes Them Tick.

Warning, I'm a technician with some experience. Even with this I still get shocked, cut, burned and otherwise injured in the course of my work. Working with electricity and water apropos to these ice machines is a potentially deadly combination to the novice or inexperienced. Please consult the services of an experienced technician if there is any doubt as to your ability. Parts on this unit can be pricey, so don't just replace these without testing. This is not a comprehensive manual to diagnose, repair, or refurbish these machines. It is theory only in very abbreviated form.

When most techs and customer think of an icemaker, they think of the apparatus inside their refrigerator that fills with the tray with water, freezes, and harvests the ice by means of heating and dumping, or twisting a tray. Many import standalone icemakers also use this principle and truth be told there are drawbacks. The ice from these will pick up the taste from anything in the refrigerator. The cubes will retain mineral content from the water, causing taste and appearance problems.

The Kitchen Aid/Scotsman/Whirlpool/GE/etc is not like the imports or the icemaker you have in your fridge. These are found in bars, hotels, and even in some residential homes, offices and even gyms. These supply, fresh, clear, wet, and great tasting ice that's clean despite the claims made otherwise. to make this happen requires some technical wizardry to accomplish, Unlike the cheaper imports, these use more moving parts, and have been around since the 1950's. These use a cooling plate to freeze water that circulated over it by means of a pump. This pump takes water from a reservoir that is inside the machine and through the means of a distributor, evenly waterfalls this over the cooling plate. As this happens, the ice thickens into a slab; at a predetermined time, the harvest thermostat causes the cooling plate to heat. The result is that the ice slides off the plate and passes through a heated wire grid, which cuts this slab into cubes and they fall into a bin. The bin and reservoir both drain into the bottom, As the ice is not insulated, it melts at the bottom and drains, keeping the product fresh and the bin clean. Another happening is that once this water drains, it either goes directly into a floor drain or into a condensate pump.

Again, this is a very abbreviated view of how these work.


2008 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab SLT 4x4 Review, First Impressions

Note, this is a USED vehicle and the picture shown is approximately the appearance of same and not a representation of the exact vehicle. Translated it means that I was too lazy to take pictures of the truck, Vehicles of the same year, make and model will have different amounts of care, wear and tear, as well as options and configurations. Your results will vary, but hopefully this will give you a good baseline in which to start.
Chrysler has not assembled a mid sized pickup for the North American market since 2011 to date. This truck will have the options listed, sans the factory radio that was replaced with an aftermarket unit before I got a hold of it. Hence there will be no reviews on same. I will not "evaluate" equipment that is not factory in the interest of leveling the playing field.
As mentioned before, this is a mid sized truck with four full doors, seats five with a 64 inch bed equipped with side rails installed from the factory. It has a sliding rear window in the back, electric windows in the doors, power locks, anti lock brakes, a power driver's seat, power mirrors, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, cloth seats. an overhead console with info center, four gauge cluster, automatic transmission, part time four wheel drive, fog lamps, a single power outlet, as well as a 3.7 liter six cylinder engine. Everything works!
The truck is considered a mid size, having a bed that is about five and a half feet wide. It is longer, wider and taller than a four wheel drive Ford Ranger with a 4.0 liter v-6 that I drove for work a year and a half ago. The interior is also roomier, which isn't saying much as the Ranger was one of the most difficult vehicles short of Mrs. Grace's Pontiac to get into without tucking your chin into your wishbone. Ahem!
The Dakotas of this year came in only two models, the one pictured here which is close to what I drive, the crew cab and the extended cab. The extended cab has vestigial "jump" seats which are designed more for my son's stuffed animals than actual human beings. The crew cab is a far better choice if you plan on hauling family or things you don't want in an open bed.
Even with the 64 inch bed, there's plenty of room for hauling things such as tools and the like. The height of the bed is low enough so you don't need a step to get up into it, or reach into same. The optional rails and movable cleats also allow you you to secure cargo in the bed. The factory drop in bedliner feels a bit on the soft side, but does a good job of protecting the bed and cargo. One thing you won't find in the Dakota's bed are stake holes for building walls or installing a ladder rack.
Under the hood in this truck lives a 3.7 liter V-6 that provides 210 horsepower and is more than adequate for hauling and passing. While the 4.7 liter gets the same mileage with 30% more power it also has 16 spark plugs. The grille comes up with the hood and there's no need for a prop rod on this hood either. What's underneath is pretty straightforward as far as maintenance is concerned. Even the spark plugs look pretty easy to get to save for one partially obstructed by an A/C line. Air filter access is also very easy.
Changing the headlight bulbs is a bit of a pain in the butt as you have to cram a 10mm socket between the bumper and headlight. It's not intuitive and short of a magnetic tool, you're going to drop screws. The headlight assemblies are also pricey at the dealership if you break them. The taillights are a bit easier as are the cargo and third brake light.
The inside of the vehicle is what this writer would call just right. It's about the size of a mid-sized auto, but the floors are going to be higher and the cabin will be shallower than a full-sized truck. The seats are decent sized with adequate thigh and shoulder support.
The ride on Michigan's moonscape motorways is pretty jumpy, and the ride is harsh over bumps. I can imagine that the shocks have something to do with this to an extent. If this is the case, I will report on it later. Maranatha!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

2008-2011 Dodge Dakota Windshield Washer Cap Quick Fix.

Let's say you own a late model Dodge Dakota and the windshield washer cap breaks. You went to AutoZone, looked online and tried to find this stupid cap. The only ones you can find are for earlier models. The dealer has them, but has to order them and it's about $20 for a Mopar part. I'm all for the deal making money, but most people will either buy the cap or use a makeshift rubber band and plastic bag.

There's a better way. The original cap is yellow with black markings and is held in place with a ring that secures it to the bottle. Now I know you Mopar guys and gals have this thing about matching numbers and I'm one, but if you can tolerate a black cap with yellow markings, this cap will do the same job the old did. I got mine at O'Reilly's, but you might be able to look this number up. It's made by Doorman for GM vehicles 1982-2007 and fits this bottle perfectly other than the color. The part number is 54100 and costs about $7.00, which is a helluva lot cheaper than the dealer and a lot easier to find. It is also the same one our Torrent uses. Maranatha! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Ups and Downs of L.E.D. Lighting for Cars.

I love L.E.D. lights. Flashlights, Christmas lights, home appliances, homes, and especially on cars, and I've seen some nice setups on many vehicles. I have been in the process through trial and error in converting mine to L.E.D.s or Light Emitting Diodes as the incandescent bulbs burn out. As the front and rear lamps are a bit of a pain to get out in my car, and the way these look, it should be pretty easy to get these to work. As with any new technology, there are tradeoffs. When I converted the lights in my 16 year old refrigerator to these, there were some mods to the double socket I had to do to get these to work. The upside is that I will never have to change these again and the light is awesome. In the case of my 2006 Pontiac Torrent, there are some lights you can do, and others that are better left alone.

I haven't done the instrument lights in L.E.D.s yet and will wait until these burn out before considering it.

Interior lights can be done, provided you can find or adapt the bulbs. The two map lights take 194 bulbs and the two rear lights need hooks or loops to work. I soldered on staples to make these work. These should be done in white or amber light and will look great when done. Red lights are a bit dim and blue can be a bit irritating, but these can work too.

License lights are 194s and should be done in white light to prevent problems with the authorities. You need 2 of them.

Reverse lights can be done without trouble as these are a 3157. These MUST be in a white light for safety's sake. If you hit someone in a car with improperly modified reverse lights, the courts will have a field day with you.

Side markers are 194 and need to be done in red for the rears and amber for the fronts. Using white lights will greatly reduce the light output behind colored lenses.

Headlights should not be converted as this car uses daytime running lights. Keep the halogens. H.I.D. bulbs don't last as long and are more expensive. L.E.D.s will generate a lot of heat.

Stop, tail and front running lights need to remain incandescent. Putting L.E.D. lights in these will cause the turn signals to light up when the brakes are applied, the high mounted stop lamp to flash when the turn signals or hazards are activated and the turn signals to flash too quickly to be seen. As this is run through the B.C.M. or body control module, there is no converting over to a heavy duty flasher to correct this. Yes, you can try hooking up resistors to the lights, but this is a scary proposition. These get hot enough to melt plastic, (by the admission of the manufacturers), burn flesh,  and this means hot enough to cause a fire. In practice, it will not stop the high mounted stop light,  (which is an L.E.D.) from flashing with the turn signals or hazards because the resistance is too low in the replacement bulbs. Either way, you're likely to get a fix up ticket and/or doing expensive electrical work. Save your money and leave these alone.

The fog lights are probably good candidates for L.E.D.s, but these will need to be white or amber to do any good. Red or blue lights will attract attention you do not want, mainly from the police.

As with any project, there are things we can and should do, but there are things that we should be wary of doing, especially when our car is designed for a specific part. Unless the originals are no longer available, these are best left the way they were. Maranatha!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cars to Stay Away From.

In the nearly 3 decades of driven and fixed my rides, there are some things that I've learned. The longest lasting vehicles me and my wife have driven are plain Jane, four cylinder coupes, sedans and wagons. My wife's 1996 Ford Escort and 2004 Pontiac Grand Am have lasted a total of nearly 18 years to date. We've had both 9 years apiece. Neither one would have ever made Consumer Reports or JD Power, but they've lasted where my 2003 Dodge Intrepid, an award winning sedan, barely lasted the payment book and was sold at a terrible loss. There are other vehicles that are good to avoid and it isn't because they were made badly, but because of things like poor maintenance or driving habits. Without any further adieu, here's the list.

1.1999-2003 Ford Windstars. These have a bad habit of breaking the rear axle at the most inopportune of times. Too bad as these vans have great fuel economy and power.
2. 1998 to 2003 Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, 300M, LHS, Dodge Stratus or Chrysler Sebring with the 2.7 liter engine have all but become extinct. Whether it's bad maintenance, poor engine design or a combination of both, these are good vehicles to stay away from. The 3.2 and 3.5 liter engines are very dependable and the rest of the car is built pretty well.
3. 2008 to present Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Town and Country and 2008 to 2012 Volkswagen Routan. In an era of high prices for used cars, a van that goes for $30,000 new can plummet to less than one sixth of that in the less than five or six years. The reliability is terrible, and the rear seats are small.
4. Chevy Uplander, Buick Terraza, Saturn Relay, Pontiac SV6. Poorly made, clumsy styling and a short product run. GM stopped making minivans for a reason.
5. 2004 to 2007 Ford Freestar and Mercury Montery. Poor reliability, poor gas mileage and so few made. Ford stopped making minvans for a reason as well.
6. Any Fiat 500 or 500L. Cute to look at, but the same Fiat propensity to break down and a death trap if you get in a smash up with it.
7. Smart for Two. Any car that requires premium gasoline and only seats two people is not an economy vehicle.
8. Any Mercedes or BMW. Unless you intend on adopting an auto mechanic and have stock in their parts, stay away. The parts for these are much more expensive than for their American and Japanese counterparts.
9. Any Ford EcoBoost vehicle. There is nothing economical about a turbo or needing premium gasoline. Turbocharged engines need to be idled several minutes before shutting them off, and more frequent oil changes to keep them working right. Do you want to bet the previous owner did?
10. 2003 to 2010 Ford Trucks and vans with the 6.0 or 6.4 liter diesel engine. Maybe it was more publicity than Dodge or Chevy. The EGR and oil coolers plugged and subsequently the headgaskets blew on the 6.0 liters. The 6.4 liters had an issue with the DPF clogging up and a regeneration system that wasted fuel and money. Both are expensive to fix, but the emissions controls were the downfall of both of these engines.  I'd stay away from the 2011 to 2013 with the 6.7 liter too as the ceramic bearing for the turbochargers fail frequently and are pricey.

HP Chromebook 14 Review, Followup and Final Impressions.

Sorry about not following up on the Chromebook, but after having a serious ear infection, which the aftermath has yet to be resolved, I was in no condition to conclude same.
Today, my ear is still "stuffed up" and I'm irritable as some have pointed out (if the shoe fits, wear it and I'm going to wear it :( ).
Sadly, or happily, the Chromebook had to go back and my Windows Seven machine was relegated to my wife. I got the Windows Eight back one that I gave to her because the other had problems with charging the battery and I did not want to try and diagnose it.
The Chromebook did everything that I asked of it, save one and this was printing to my printer. Sure, I could cloud print a document, and read everything online, but the instructions Google gave were still beyond vague. The "troublesome" Windows Eight computer had no trouble downloading the software and getting my work orders printed for the following day. In fact it took me less than five minutes with a wireless connection.
Reluctantly, I took the Chromebook back to OfficeMax and got my money back, which they did for me even more reluctantly. Until Google can figure out how to get this cloud printing to where the average person can do this, they may end up having a lot of machines returned or sitting in closets, unused. Maranatha!

Friday, March 27, 2015

HP Chromebook 14 Review, First Impressions.

I'm 44 years old and got a late start in computers. While I'm familiar with the TRS-80 and the Apple 2 machines, as well as the Tandy 1000, it wasn't until 2000 when we got our first Windows machine, an HP with Windows Me (Millennium Edition) that my wife and I started to use the computer. The machine was so slow it was practically nonfunctional. I ended up relegating this paperweight to the dumpster and purchasing one with Windows xp, a much better operating system that we used for years. Vista came along, and this one was a bit taxing on low end computers. When Windows Seven replaced this, it was as functional as xp with some of the taxing features turned off. For those who can still get it on a computer, it's a helluva system. My wife and son now use Windows 8, which is better suited for tablets, but is also used for desktops and laptops alike. Both have no issue with it, but I found it very counter-intuitive and complicated to use. Trying to do something that would have taken me a few minutes on xp or Seven would take me ten or fifteen minutes on 8. Thus printing my work schedule, tax forms, trying to maintain the software or fix a problem became an ordeal. 

My old HP Windows Seven machine began having battery problems, as well as overheating to the point that my cords were hot to the touch. The system would start to freeze up and seemed to update constantly, rendering the computer useless at the most inopportune times. A replacement battery cured the problem for a week, but then the system would heat up and the battery would fail to charge. Even with the battery removed, the computer would overheat with the fan going full force. I tried cleaning, software updating and removing and re-installing, recovery and more cleaning. The computer overheated until I finally had to shut it down. Windows 8 was looking like a possibility as macs were out of the question due to their astronomical price. Yes, spending two weeks pay on a computer is astronomical. 

I looked at HP's, Dells, Toshibas and an Asus with Windows 8 with the cheapest being about $250. all were going to have battery issues within a year, were going to be the same frustrating Windows 8 home basic that was going to switch from charms to desktop to blue screen in a second with the a swipe of a finger. The same swipe that was trying to start a movie or write a blog post. 

For quite a while, I've eyed Chromebooks, but the idea of not having a hard drive was anathema to me. There was also the angst over having everything web based and in a cloud. However, I've used Gmail since its inception in 2004, and have used Blogger since 2009 and Youtube longer than Google has had it. In addition, I've also used Chrome since 2008 and it has been the best browser bar none. While Internet Explorer could barely cough and sputter even in its native operating system, Chrome worked with nary a hiccup. After taking with some people at Office Max, I decided to try this system and have not even plugged it in since I got it home four hours ago. As this was a display model, the battery was fully charged. This was a huge problem with the Windows machines. 

The screen is smaller compared to these, but adjusting the zoom a bit has compensated for this. The resolution is very sharp and rivals even my iPhone. Sound from the built in speakers is pretty tame, but unless you need them at concert hall pitch should be more than adequate. The keyboard is reminiscent of my old Macbook in both form and function. It's more than big enough for average sized mitts, and the mouse pad is nothing in appearance to the Windows laptops. The truth is that it is works BETTER. You can swipe, click, right click and scroll with simple hand gestures. With a simple tutorial, you are up and running in minutes, not hours. I literally typed in my network key and signed in, and everything populated from my Google account. All my favorites, web pages, and accounts were there. 

As for storage this computer (more accurately called a thin client) is 100 Gigabytes in the cloud. There are plenty of USB ports to hoop up accessories and hopefully a hard drive. Allegedly, it also works with my printer and this is something to test out at a later time. Thus far, it's worth what I paid for it and it's really simple to use. So much the better. Maranatha!   

  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whirlpool Front Load Washer E28 Code Fix (try this first).

As always, when in doubt consult the services of a competent technician. Use caution when working on parts and never work on live electrical circuits unless you are trained to do so. Untrained individuals working on sophisticated electronic equipment such a washer, car or even a wheelbarrow can do permanent damage to the equipment, rendering it useless...

Fortunately, this "fix" is pretty simple, at least if it works and there are no guarantees. E28 means a lack of communication between certain parts inside the machine, and there are nightmares of swapping parts to fix this. First of all, you need to put down that screwdriver and step away carefully; take a deep breath and relax.

You have to either pull this code up by pressing an releasing a certain button 2-5 seconds and releasing it for a total of five cycles. ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON and the codes will flash. However, the symptom we're looking for is that the washer will intermittently leave the clothes inside a wet heap. They won't spin out at all. As a homeowner, you should be cleaning out the filter or having this done once in a while. A clogged or stuck pump could be the issue, but more often than not, the problem is how much detergent you're using.

Since high efficiency washers came to be, the promise of lower water and energy bills rang true for a lot of people. Along with lower water usage, owners are still having a difficult time with soap in these machines. Many will fill the dispensers to the "MAX" level with h/e soap, use a quarter cup or whatever they believe the manufacture says is the right level for their load. First of all, stop!

These washers are sold all over the world, and the max levels are for those countries where h/e soap is not widely available (I live in the United States where it's VERY available). Since the premise is that the h/e version is more concentrated (it has less fillers), you are adding and wasting hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine AND you are shortening the life of same AND setting yourself up for a service call.

If you use h/e soap, you ONLY NEED ONE TABLESPOON FULL, two tablespoons max. That's it. The washer can only use so much at a time and the rest will either rinse out or deposit itself inside the machine to create problems with sensors and electronics. If you're doing this, again, stop. You also want to use a washer cleaner weekly for several weeks and monthly thereafter. Hopefully, the glitches will stop and your clothes will spin out. It this code was on all the time, better call a service tech, but this should help save some money.

As a bonus tip, wash your smalls in a mesh bag or hand wash them as these can get sucked into the pump. That's it. Maranatha!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Change in Policy, Concerning Advertising.

I've been blogging since 2009 on this site, through thick and thin, through a lot of changes. Through this time I've dealt with financial hardships, several job changes and continued to write this blog. I thank Google from the bottom of my heart to be able to use this venue to write, as I have used them for eleven years. My hope is to help people out of some sticky situations that are hard to find a way out of even on the World Wide Web. I love the comments readers have given over the years, good and bad.

I have NEVER asked for a dime, as help should have its own reward. However, I had a heating and cooling company peddle their services on one of my posts. There was nothing wrong with the message they gave, but these firms charge you big bucks to come to the door. I know because I've worked for several of them and had to deal with customers upset over paying $500 for a $130 control board, or $318 for a $25 hot surface ignitor. Adding insult was to deal with a boss that said I should have shown the customer the value, which was among several reasons I left the industry for good last year.

Businesses are there to make money and there is overhead to be paid for sure, but I will not permit someone to advertise their wares on this blog in the comments section. If you want to suggest that someone seek the services of a competent professional or have a better way of doing something, I respect that and will insist that on every post that involves all but the most trivial of fixes. As a pro myself, I have the scars to prove that some things are dangerous. I nearly lost sight in my left eye due to a chemical burn as one of them,

 It is strictly for the love of people, writing, and some of my interests in the context of helping others. Even if you don't do the fix yourself, you can appreciate the effort made to get something put back in working order. Hopefully, this blog will continue to help, or least make you laugh at same for years to come. Maranatha!

Stanley FatMax5 Spotlight 520 Lumens Review

Fixing appliances requires you to be able to see what you're working on and this is an understatement. I work in dark basements, laundry rooms, even kitchens trying to find broken parts, leaks, even shutoff valves. Even in  the best lit of venues, you will have to look inside a dark appliance and will need to see things clearly to avoid touching a live wire, a hot element or moving part. All of these can end your workday at the speed of fright.
Over the years, I've become quite the connoisseur of flashlights. Maglites have been the mainstay of this madman's collection as long as they don't get lost in a customer's basement or crushed in a dead car (long story). However, these are either too bulky for the big ones, and sometimes not bright enough for the minis. I spend about $10 a month on batteries to keep the lights on. So the thought of a rechargeable mini spotlight that I could work on appliances, autos and that occasional frozen pipe under the house is tempting. My eyes aren't the greatest for reading small print on appliances, so more light helps these to stand out.

I got this light late in December as a "Christmas" present and the price is about $30 to $40 depending on whether or not you get it on sale. It comes with a 110v and a 12v charger for your car. The model I got did not come with the headlamp as depicted above, but the rest was exactly the same. The light is supposed to be 520 lumens or candlepower as it used to be called, which is about bright as a car headlight. There is also a power saving mode that extends the battery charge, which is supposed to last up to ten hours. In truth, the power saving mode significantly cuts light output that would make a penlight seem superior. The light output at full power is more than adequate when replacing the alternator in my car, or looking for a leak in an ancient washing machine. When the battery power gets low, the light beeps and abruptly goes off.

Which is often as the battery seldom lasts more than two hours. Even though the light is probably at 520 lumens as advertised, the way the lens spreads the light (this is a spotlight after all) means that less light will be pinpointed on that model number than the average mini Maglight. Charging the light takes time, especially with the vehicle charger and even with frequent charges, the battery seems to call it quits at the most inopportune times. What's more is that the light will not come on when the battery is charging. If it goes out when changing a tire or trying to find a leak, remembering to bring the charger will not bail out you out.

My assessment on this light is for my purposes, it's going to help if you have one job that won't take long to do. If you need something that's going to stay on for quite a while, or need to get back in action quickly, this is a good one to pass over. I can change the batteries in my mini Maglight quickly enough, but waiting several hours for a light to charge is not an option in my line of work. I may relegate this to home or camping use for the foreseeable future unless I can figure out a routine to make this usable for work. The size and light output are phenomenal, but "up to 10 hours of run time" is slightly misleading. If you had this in low power all the time, maybe, but to use this for the intended purpose you're going to need to recharge it much much sooner. Maranatha!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

PCV Valve Replacement on 2005-2009 Chevy Equinox or 2006-2009 Pontiac Torrent 3.4 Liter.

Car repairs that are improperly done can cause injury, death and property damage. When in doubt consult a professional mechanic. Do this and any other repairs at your own risk.

I've been reading all over the information superhighway about replacing a PCV valve on my 2006 Pontiac Torrent (Yes, this has been quite the weekend for vehicle repairs, but the weather was decent and I needed to fix a few things on both cars). Mine has been living in the valve cover for nearly nine years and 99,054 miles. While there are many arguments for and against replacing this part, it needs to be checked when the oil is changed. If it fails, you risk burning oil or flooding your air filter in same. This happened on my Rendezvous and it was a mess. The part on my Torrent had just about had it.  

GM, in all their collective wisdom has put a bracket for the PCV valve on their Chinese-made 3.4 liter; securing it to the valve cover and necessitating replacement of the latter to fix the former. Instead of buying a $3.00 part, you now have to spend $200 to have a valve cover replaced. The bracket is riveted to the aluminum valve cover, preventing even a cursory inspection of the valve and easy replacement. Again, I've heard the arguments for why GM has done this, mainly customers installing substandard parts. However, even the top of the line PCV valve is less than $10 for this engine. This is a decision based purely on profit that will hurt them in the long run because customers will fail to do this as a maintenance item and then blame GM. This is despite the fact the engine is a pretty decent runner. Even though it is primitive by today's standards, it does provide decent power and economy. It's also fairly simple to work on (something I value immensely), save for this inane setup with the aforementioned valve.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix that will take five or ten minutes to perform. You need a straight blade screwdriver and a decent size pair of groove joint pliers. Remove the engine undercover. Carefully pry off this bracket from the valve cover starting with the passenger side until the rivet pops out. Remove the PCV line from the valve. Then grab the bracket with your pliers and gently rock and pull that bracket off the valve cover. These do not go all the way through, nor is this bracket needed to hold the PCV valve into the cover, as the grommet will hold it in just fine. Discard the rivets and the bracket and do your usual maintenance to the valve, replacing as necessary. Then re install that stupid engine cover. Here's to progress, Maranatha! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Installing Trailer Hitch Receiver on 2005 - 2009 Chevy Equinox (2006 - 2009 Pontiac Torrent)


The Chevy Equinox is a small Sport Utility Vehicle offered since the 2005 model year and restyled for the 2010 model year. This is when the GMC Terrain replaced the Pontiac Torrent. To my understanding, the receiver will work for the 2010 to 2015 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, As well as the first generation Saturn Vue, but check with your retailer first.

The receiver I bought was from etrailer.com and the manufacturer is Curt. The reason I got this hitch was because of the 2 inch receiver opening will give me more flexibility when adding accessories to this vehicle, such as a bike rack or platform that would not work with a 1 1/4 inch.  It will not increase the towing capacity, as these will tow about 3500 pounds with a non weight distributing setup and from experience, this will be very dicey toward the top end. With a weight distributing setup, this will tow up to 4000 pounds, which seems a bit high for such a small vehicle. My trailer, a 1996 Viking Epic, is about 1000 pounds dry, so this hitch should be more than adequate.

WARNING! as always, installing a trailer hitch can be hazardous. Always wear safety glasses, a hat, and gloves when working under the vehicle. Improper tightening or use of fasteners can cause injury, loss of life and property damage. Follow instructions to the letter, and when in doubt, consult a qualified installer. Grade 8 fasteners for S.A.E. or 10.9 grade bolts are a must for anything to do with installing trailering equipment. Use the fasteners with the hitch if all possible. I have no control over your work, and offer this for entertainment purposes only. Do this any any other repair or installation at your own risk.

The tools you will need are a torque wrench, a socket set, 8" extension, a wire brush that will clean bolt holes as well as scraper, some rust inhibiting paint, penetrating oil like PB Blaster or a lubricant such as WD-40 or Motorkote. It would be a good idea to get some cardboard to stage your parts and tools to prevent them from getting banged up on the driveway. You may need 4, grade eight, 7/16 standard thread bolts the same length as the ones that came with the kit unless these supply same.

Clean the bolt holes, two on the left over the exhaust pipe, two on the right and two on the bottom of the bumper with your spray lube and wire brush. Scrape away any loose paint, rust, and dirt from where the hitch is going to attach to the car. You will need to remove the knockout on the bumper with a screwdriver, then try threading the bolts in to make sure the threads are clean. As I found out, the bolts on the left and right were 7/16, NOT 12 millimeter, and I spent nearly 20 minutes trying to thread the 12s supplied with the kit.

Once you're sure that all of these will thread, you will need to get your 12 mm bolts and washers and lift the receiver up. Start the two holes in the bumper several turns, then work on the left side over the exhaust pipe, then the right side. If you had to use the 7/16 bolts, be sure you use the washers that came with the kit as nothing available at the hardware store will be strong enough to hold this safely in place. Even the grade 8 washers will buckle when you tighten the bolts. Tighten everything gradually and then torque them down as specified. Be sure to check these bolts periodically to make sure that nothing comes loose. In the 15 years I've installed a half dozen trailer hitches, I've never had this problem, but I still check on every one. Maranatha!

Alternator Replacement for 2005-2009 Chevy Equinox, 2006-2009 Pontiac Torrent.

Time to take the grandchildren home, and load up their seats, them and the rest of their effects into my SUV, and of course the wind chill is below zero. Turned the key and the engine would not start with the odometer at 99,050 miles. Time to call my daughter's boyfriend to pick up the kids, as this vehicle isn't going anywhere. I grab my jump box and phillip's screwdriver to access and jump this thing. After several tries, it starts. Since I just replaced the battery a month ago, and the connections are clean and tight some more checking was needed.

The night before, the clock and CD player reset after driving to fix a car seat issue (long story) with my wife. With these in mind, and I couldn't find my voltmeter to test the charging system, it was time to pull the alternator and have this tested.

As always, car repairs involve risk. Injury, death and property damage can result from improperly installed parts. You can also break some pretty expensive parts trying to get this replaced, and this madman has seen plenty of under hood fires on various cars over the years. It's a safe bet that some of these are electrical. Even though the voltage is fairly low, you can still weld rings, watches, and other metal bits to metal bits on the car with the electricity present. You MUST disconnect the negative battery cable on this beast before you dig in; do this and any other repair at your own risk.

To remove the alternator, you need a phillip's head screwdriver, a 5/16 socket, a 15mm socket, a 10mm socket, as well as socket wrenches and and a straight blade screwdriver. There are two alternator manufacturers that supplied parts for this vehicle. Valeo was the more common one, and Denso the less common one.  The Valeo part has two bolt holes that are accessible from the passenger side of the vehicle. The Denso has three bolt holes, one accessible from the passenger side and two are vertically installed between the alternator body and the firewall. A battery charger is also a good thing to have along with some charging posts. You can get a decent charger cheap. Mine cost about
$35 and can fit in a glove compartment. Get one with a minimum of 4 amps, but 6 amps is best. It
there is any doubt as to the condition of the battery, either have it tested or replace it outright, especially if it's more than 4 or 5 years old. I would replace it with a good quality conventional lead acid battery. Unless your name is Richie Rich, or you're a serious audiophile, I would not bother with Optimas. The reason is that these are over $200 for a red top battery. What's more it will not last you that much longer to justify the exorbitant price, but I digress.

In addition, the Denso alternator is going to be harder to find. I had three parts suppliers in the area tell me they had to order the part, and the final one, Advance Auto Parts, had the part for $185 plus tax and a $60 core charge. I spent about $200 with tax, but those are the breaks.

To remove the old part, you will need to remove the negative battery cable first. The battery lives
under the ignition computer and a plastic cover that's held on with several phillip's head screws. The  
battery is a pretty ordinary 75 group underneath though. Remove the engine undercover, which is held on with the oil cap and some snaps to access the alternator. You will also need to unplug the EGR connector on the front passenger side of the engine before you can remove the cover. Gently pry up on the plastic tab inside the connector where it mates with the valve to remove it. The connector should come off easily. Now you can remove that cover and set it aside. Honestly, the covers are to make the engine compartment look prettier and cut down on noise and that's about it. This one also affords some protection to a very fragile canister purge solenoid, which is on top of the intake manifold and held with a 10mm bolt. Unplug and remove this from the manifold. You can leave the line attached and move it carefully out of the way, but that's your call. The part is about $35 if you break it.

Next thing is to remove the 1 and 4 ignition wires from the coil at the back of the engine. Then the
connector from the throttle body by unclipping the retainer and sliding the lock up. You could remove

the throttle body to afford more room, but this isn't necessary and you may need a gasket for this. Do
be careful as this is plastic. You'll need to remove the air cleaner assembly leaving the wiring
attached.

The lower should be removed as well, but not completely necessary as long as you can access the belt tensioner to remove the belt from the alternator. If the belt is worn, you will need to remove the engine mount to access it and before you complain, this is pretty common on many front wheel drive car

Remove the plastic exciter harness (excited yet?) and the battery terminal from the alternator with a 10mm socket. Remove the bolts from the alternator and in the case of the Denso, these need to go back into their original locations and two of them will be easy to mix up. One is a hair longer than the other, so keep them in order. I loosened them all first and then removed one by one with the exception of the back bolt on the passenger side of the vehicle. There isn't a lot of room back there to work, but it isn't too hard to get these out. that passenger side bolt will need to come out with and go in with the alternator.

Wiggling this out is going to be a P.I.T.A., but it will come out without damaging anything else. Install the new one, and put that passenger side bolt in the back before setting it back in its new home. Tighten all the bolts (the Valeo version should be easier in this regard) then hook up the electrical connectors, the belt, the solenoid, throttle body, air cleaner, ignition wires, battery cables and that cover and EGR harness. The battery should be fully charged as a dead battery will not start the engine. Even if you manage to get it fired up, you'll punish the new alternator. Unlike a generator, an alternator needs a fully charged battery to energize the alternator field; hence the exciter circuit. The days of pushing a car down a hill to get it started are long gone. Maranatha!