Monday, September 5, 2016

Diagnosing Oil Leaks for Free or Nearly Free.

For most of us, oil leaks are a fact of life in any ride and this writer has seen this in cars with less than ten thousand miles on the clock. For the most part, cars today have less issues with these IF you change the oil regularly. This is because contaminants left in can damage seals and cause leaks. Wear in a high mileage engine can also cause seal journals on some parts to stop touching the seal and leak. Even improperly installed seals can cause an issue, and spill oil over your driveway and make your engine a mess.

If the leak is minor and not getting things messy, my suggestion is to leave it alone. However if it's dotting your driveway with oil, here's how to find the leak or leaks. Fixing these can involve replacing the oil filter and or oil plug, resealing the oil pan, or adding one of those sealers until you can yank the engine or trade off the vehicle. You'll need a garden hose, some engine degreaser and a good flashlight as well as some time for the vehicle to sit and drive. Spray the degreaser carefully around the area of the suspected leak wait a few minutes, then use a garden hose to remove the mess from the engine.

I wouldn't recommend spraying water on any electrical components, or on any areas not needed to diagnose the leak. This could cause the engine to misfire or trouble codes to develop. Just clean the area you need and use the least amount of water to get the job done. Then drive the car enough to warm the engine (and dry up the water if you didn't follow my advice) then park and look for fresh oil on the engine. Because I was overzealous with the water, the engine ran a bit rough. On the return trip, it smoothed out and I was able to see that it was residual oil from the last person who changed the oil. It had dipped from the filter and gotten embedded in the dirt on the bottom of the engine, which was slowly releasing it on my driveway.

If there was a leak, there would be fresh oil coming from a seal, gasket, problem with the block, head or intake, even an oil filter or sender. In my case, there was no such problems, just poor housekeeping. When I change the oil on my cars, I like to make sure the area is wiped up, or at least sprayed with degreaser and a garden hose to stop from boogering up the driveway or causing smells when you're driving. Glad it wasn't anything major. Maranatha!

2002 Ford Escape XLT Review, Part One.

This is review on a USED vehicle with 86,000 miles as of this writing.  It will only be useful for the vehicle reviewed and not on the new generations of the Ford Escape, which had a redo in the late 2000's and became a completely different model marketed to a completely different demographic group in the early 2000 teens. Your mileage can and will vary as this is a V-6, four wheel drive equipped vehicle. The radio, a six dish CD changer was not operating as of this writing, so a used aftermarket radio/CD/MP3 player was substituted and will not be included in this review. Ford audio systems, when in working order have usually been pretty decent in cars of this vintage though. Everything works on this example save the rear defogger and washer to the rear window.

The Ford Escape was and still is less about being a truck and more about being what a small car should be; having a small footprint and have a goodly amount of headroom, hip room and leg room. It should also be well thought out to maximize space and functionality in said footprint. The Ford Escape does this par-excellence. The silhouette is boxy by today's standard of raked windshields, free form glass, and lower, rounded roof lines. As a six foot, 200 pound plus man, I can get into this vehicle without ducking under an A pillar that arches into the B pillar. This is a move that requires the deftness and flexibility of a gymnast. This is a maneuver that a forty-something repair technician is not capable of.

In the fact the interior is well-laid out in typical Ford-ish fashion. The overdrive off switch is on the end of the gear selector, which is on the steering column. Wiper controls are in front of said gear selector, while the turn signal slash light switch slash dimmer resides on the left. Wiper controls are a bit on the need to practice side, while the switches for the fog lights, hazards, instrument light dimmer, and hazardss are in user friendly positions. The four wheel drive selector is also conveniently located, if not lighted. The controls for the dome light and map lights are in an impossible to get at spot, more in reach for the rear seat passengers. Map lights on the mirror would have a much better idea as would automatic lighting controls ala-General Motors. Lighting on the heater and radio controls is good, while the speedometer binnacle is dimly lit and the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel aren't even lit at all. Removing the cluster and the green plastic sheathing from four of the bulbs helped the lighting situation in the binnacle greatly, as did replacing the burnt-out bulb for the transmission indicator/ odometer with an LED bulb. The rest of the cluster is not compatible with LED's at all as the light will refract in ways the manufacturer could have never anticipated, making the cluster nearly unreadable. The dome lights DID benefit from LED lights, even though these have a tendency to stay glowing even after they are turned off.

Seats are very supportive and shorter drivers will appreciate the lower dash, lower distance from the seat to the floor while taller driver will appreciate the high roof line and squarish build. Visibility is superb, but a back up camera would be a great idea to install for safety's sake. The rear seats fold flat, but this requires removing the headrests, flipping the lower cushions forward and up, and then flipping the seat backs forward. There's plenty of room for tools, a water heater, maybe even a few sets of skis, but not a 4x8 sheet of plywood. The liftgate has a separate glass that you can lift up, but in practice you may not even need it as the gate is pretty convenient in its own rite. Another nice feature, unlike many mid-sized and large sport utility vehicles is that the spare is accessible from the inside. While this is a bit more of headache with a full load of groceries, it's still a helluva lot better than fighting a tire winch in the middle of a dirt road after a rain; not to mention ponying up two or three bills for a new one when it inevitably breaks. Even worse the thought of a 40 pound tire coming loose and hitting the windshield of the vehicle in front of you. 'nuff said.  The next part is going to be about actually driving this thing, while the last part will be about maintenance. Thanks for putting up with me, and more to come. Maranatha!