Sunday, April 2, 2017

2010 Ford Escape, First Two Weeks Maintenance and Repairs Report.

As with any used car, there are going to be issues. The ones on this car are minor, but worth mentioning. Here's what's been done so far as well as the cost. If I can fix something without replacing it, so much the better.

Removed compact disks from broken player,                                                                          $0
Repaired the trailer wiring connector with reclaimed parts                                                     $0
Removed scratches from instrument cluster with polish                                                          $3
Replaced bulbs with reclaimed LED ones on tail and tags                                                      $0

Refinished seats with dye                                                                                                         $3
Fixed the mileage reset on the odometer with a soldering
iron                                                                                                                                           $0
Replaced front brake pads, rotors and hardware                                                                  $133
Added 1 qt of oil                                                                                                                  $ 3-4
Vacuumed carpet                                                                                                                 $0.25
Replaced crackling front speakers                                                                                        $ 35

Total cost                                                                                                                         $178.25

What needs to be done

Front stabilizer links                                                                                                              $ 35
Find draw bar for the trailer and this can wait
(still looking in my shed for class 2)                                                                                  $ 0-30
Install rear floor mats                                                                                                            $ 10
Replace wipers                                                                                                                      $ 40
Change coolant                                                                                                                $ 15-20
Change oil                                                                                                  $ 30 (doing it myself)
Change trans fluid                                                               $ 60 (doing it myself with Mercon Five)

What I want to do

Replace RH Taillight (has crack)                                                                                          $ 30
Get two extra keys                                                              $50 plus programming at the dealer.

Remove the spare tire and install a full sized one.                                                                  $ ?

Anyway, this is it for now. Maranatha!



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2010 Ford Escape XLT Review.

As with almost ANYTHING I review here, this is a USED vehicle with about 118,000 miles. It's in good condition with some rust and dings in the usual places. The rear defogger and CD player do not work. The former because of abrasion to and fragility of the defroster grid, and the latter due to the apparent fact that Ford's compact disk players are prone to self destruct. This car is classified as a station wagon in my home state, and a Sport Utility Vehicle or S.U.V. in any other publication. I will call this a car or vehicle; whatever, but these refer to the same subject. It's equipped with Microsoft's SYNC (pronounced sink), a CD player, USB port, auto dimming mirror, heated outside mirrors, power windows, power drivers seat, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, rear window defog (which does not work), accessory port, a remote starter, keyless entry and a remote built into the key itself. It also has a 3.0 liter dual overhead cam V-6 flex fuel, a six speed automatic transmission, all wheel drive, antilock brakes, traction control and hill decent assist, trailer tow package (which I had to repair the plug to the wiring) and electronic power steering. It's well equipped.

Like the 2002 I had to scrap, the 3.0 engine gets about 18 to 20 miles to the gallon in mixed driving. It's a bit noisy on the outside of the car, and is a bit loud on the inside when pushed hard. It has 240 horsepower, which is a bit overpowered for a 3500 pound car. The reworking of the intake and exhaust, as well as the upgraded transmission and steering provide a more refined experience, if a bit more bellicose than the previous incarnation. Acceleration is VERY brisk and passing power is assured. The throttle response on this vehicle is one of the best I have ever driven, including a few sportier cars over the years. Handling is decent, but the eight inch ground clearance means taking things slower than what this engine is very capable of.  Driving in the rain from Detroit was not a problem. It was just as surefooted as the 2002 Escape. With disks in the front and drums in the rear, braking is adequate enough for a fully loaded vehicle. I didn't notice any fade; the pads and rotors are new, the tires are also new.

The driving position is, as with every Ford I've ever tested is par excellence. Forward and side visibility are superb, and rear visibility is a bit occluded by the smaller back window (as are most contemporary vehicles) that make parallel parking hit or miss. Anything of this year should have a backup camera standard, no excuses. This one does not and I will be installing my aftermarket one. It's cheap insurance against property damage or tragedy. The outside mirrors have inserts to help compensate for blind spots on the sides. I would still head check these anyway for safety's sake. The interior mirror on this one is auto dimming, which is a nice feature when tailgaters have their brights on.

The controls on the 2010 are not as intuitive as they were on the 2002. This one has autolamp, which has been standard on GM cars for decades, but it took reading the owners manual to figure that out, as did turning on the fog lights. Wiper controls have been relocated to the turn signal lever, while the gearshift had been relegated to the console (where this writer prefers it). There is no selector switch for the transfer case, but perversely, one for the traction control under the center stack. The hill descent control is located on the gearshift lever, and there is no longer an overdrive off button. The USB port, mood lighting (mine doesn't have it) power port (this has only one for the front seat) and accessory jack are also tucked under same.

The center stack, which is ubiquitous in late model cars trucks (save GM's ancient full sized vans that date back to 1997), is a technological wonder of infotainment and driver comfort. It is also a pain in the ass to decipher, as are the media controls on the steering wheel. I have yet to get SYNC to respond correctly to my Michigan accent, but the buttons do a decent job of getting things done when you are stopped. The climate control is easy enough to operate, with the exception of the three buttons on the left side that look alike. One for the rear defogger, the other for the front defogger and the last for the floor and defogger. There is also a button for air conditioning, max air and recirculating, which is redundant and confusing, The buttons are also small, but well lit at night.

The infotainment system in this vehicle is "built in" with the center stack, so trying to put an aftermarket system in will be wrought with frustration and cause some of the features to not work. The buttons on this one are small, but well labeled and lit. They are still non intuitive for the average person at first as what the functions are. With some practice, and time, you can successfully navigate through the menus. Allegedly, one can also use voice commands to do the same thing. This is something this writer has yet to do successfully. As with other systems, this one also has Sirius radio, a nice touch on long trips. These do require a credit card, but are worth it if you spend a lot of time in the car. Since my trips are infrequent. I drive a big, white van during the course of my day, an extra $20 a month isn't worth it.

The LED display at the top of the stack proudly reads "Ford Escape" upon starting the vehicle and shows all media functions along with the time. It is also very easy to read as is the main instrument cluster to the left. The lighting is blue with red needles and is very logically set up. The buttons on the steering wheel and doors are also lit in the same pleasing tone. Window switches are well thought out and offer no surprises.

Seats in front and rear are a bit flat and firm. They do offer excellent thigh support, which is in sharp contrast to the 2002's seats. They were a bit plusher, but said support was vestigial. There is no lumbar support on these seats though. The rear seats are equally firm and headroom can be a bit tight for taller riders. This car can seat three in back, but two are better on longer trips. For longer road trips, the cupholders are molded into the console, which is a sight better than those that tend to break with any use at all. Bigger soda bottles will not fit. Since there are only two power points, one in front and one in back. you will want to add more.

As with any vehicle like this, plan on filling up more frequently, especially with the V-6 and all wheel drive. The range on this one is about 300 miles ON THE HIGHWAY. It will be about 50 miles less with city driving. Even though this one is on the small side, it is not an economy car. I've gotten about 20 miles to the gallon driving to Detroit from Lansing. This can be mitigated somewhat by using E-85 instead of gasoline as it costs about 30 cents a gallon less. The range difference between the two fuels seems to be negligible.  Admittedly, this is far better than many truck based S.U.V.s that aren't much bigger than this one. The GMC Envoy (A vehicle I'm familiar with, more so than the Explorer, but similar in size. I'm not hating on GM) gets about 13 miles to the gallon in real world driving with about 35 more horses under the hood. The Explorer probably gets about the same. My old Rendezvous got about the same with a less powerful engine and two wheel drive.

Ride quality is also very good for such a short wheel base vehicle. Long trips are easy with this one as are trips to the grocery store. In short, the Escape is a good one to consider for some capability combined with ease of parking and decent room and utility. Fuel economy is on the thirsty side, but this has more to do with having all wheel drive.  I'm going to have another report on some maintenance and repair items in my next post about this vehicle, as well as some cheap tips to fix some common issues with these vehicles.  Maranatha?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The END Of The Little Guy! My 2002 Escape.

A stock picture of a 2002 Escape. Mine looked as good.

Left side of the frame, by the spring seat in the rear.

Left Rear frame rail, left side.

Spare tire well,

Inside of left real wheel well.

Left rear bumper mount.

Right rear bumper mount

Left side under the cargo compartment
A week and a half ago, I went underneath to see about adding a trailer hitch to the little guy. Since the truck was gone and with it the hitch and wiring (not that it would fit) this was not something this writer was looking forward to one bit. Still, a trailer hitch would give this car some much needed capacity for a lot less money than buying a bigger vehicle. Since the frame was encrusted with rust, I used a ball peen hammer to chip the crusty stuff loose and get this down to good metal.

This is about a third of what came off the car. I could literally put my hands through the sheetmetal under the bumper mounts.

This is what the left frame rail looked like once I got done chipping the loose rust off. That crack goes over six inches. This is where the trailer hitch was supposed to bolt on. Not today. If your car is over five or six years old, it's a good idea to check it for rust. Ford Escapes are very prone to this kind of destruction, especially in states and provinces where Calcium Chloride (road salt) is used to deice and reduce dust on roads,  Michigan doesn't have inspection laws to date, but this kind of rust is a danger just the same. I used a small hammer and if it breaks through like this, the car needs to be scrapped. Mine is probably there right now.

Last weekend, I had to replace the car with a newer one. A 2010 Ford Escape to be exact. I'll be doing a review and report on that soon. Maranatha!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2016 Ford Transit Review.

I've been driving big, white, American-style vans over 2 decades and for the most part, they handle well, are more than powerful enough and are adequate for the job. This is to move tools and parts from one place to another. I've liked the 1992 to 2014 Ford vans because of their excellent headroom, good ergonomics and excellent reliability. GM vans, although archaic by today's standards also do the job equally well, but with flimsier interior parts. They ride nice, even on Michigan's moribund moonscape of mottled motorways. They respond well to basic maintenance, because they haven't changed much since the 1970's, most of the bugs are gone.

Today, my work van needed a lot of work done, including tires, fixing an oil leak and other miscellaneous things. Add to that a good cleaning and rearranging and it will be back in action. In the meantime, I'm driving a European style white van. This a low roof model, long wheelbase with the 3.7 liter gasoline V-6. It's equipped with A/C, ABS, traction control, backup camera, delay wipers, and some of the most awesome seats ever put into a work vehicle.

The Ford Transit for the United States market is actually a rear wheel drive version of the one sold overseas that are front wheel drive. This makes for a higher loading floor that's similar to the Chevy van I usually drive and higher than what's in the Ram Promaster (admittedly a product I've not driven as of this writing).

The business end of any van is the loading area, and this one is convenient enough to get things into and out of. Again, the floor is higher and this means taking some effort to climb into. The specimen this writer got had a bare floor with no covering which means the cargo slid all over the place. A finish floor, such as rubber, linoleum or even finished plywood should be standard.. Even a spray in bedliner would be an upgrade over this floor that dents pretty easily and has no grip on cargo. With shelving and the floor lined, the cargo area would be much more usable and since the sides are straight up and down, there is more room. The doors open and stay where you put them, which helps on windy days or in cramped parking lots. The remote controls for the door locks also helps carrying tools and parts when it's hard to get a free hand to unlock the door.

Ingress and egress into the driver's seat are two different animals. While getting into the seat is easy, getting out is a bit of a challenge due to the narrow doorways on this van. I kept hitting my knee on the map pocket inside the door every time I got out of the van. Once in the seat and settled, the driving position, as in any Ford product, is superb. Forward visibility is excellent, the sides are more than acceptable, while the rear is obstructed someone due to the truncated design of the windows at the top. This is mitigated somewhat when backing up due to the backup camera displayed in the mirror that does a great job of covering blind spots.

The seats are comfortable and boast excellent back and thigh support, and the steering wheel is easily adjusted. Power windows and mirrors are included and should be mandatory. Heated mirrors are an extra cost option and should be considered if you live where there is ice, fog or snow. The instruments in the binnacle are colored blue and easy to read as are the rest of the functional controls. The radio, with its organically placed buttons and center knob is confusing and requires too much attention to operate. I would rather have the option of installing an aftermarket radio in this beast and skip the Ford radio altogether as is still possible in the GM products as of this writing.

There ARE plenty of cupholders, but only two power ports and no inverter standard. I would order or install a center console in this or any van to keep the cabin organized. Other than that little detail, there are plenty of storage areas in the dash and doors.

The ride is good for an otherwise heavy looking and ungainly vehicle. Passing power is more than adequate and noise level is about normal and it handles well for a van.  Fuel mileage was about 13 to 14 miles to the gallon, which is about what my 4.3 v-6 work van gets. This is not a gas sipper and from practical experience, it takes a certain amount of energy to do a certain amount of work. If you take a 5.7 liter and a 3.7 liter and ask them to do the same job, both will use a similar amount of fuel.
A work van needs a certain amount of grunt to get it going, especially when loaded with nearly a ton of tools, shelves and parts. If you're buying the Ford Transit for fuel economy, you will be disappointed.  If you're buying it for efficiency, space and functionality, you will be pleased at these and overall driver comfort. Maranatha!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Samsung Front Load Washer No Drain Fix

Warning: this is a job best left to a professional. The combination of sharp edges (I swear that Gillette makes the bodies for every washer and dryer of every make) exposure to electrical shock and potential property damage from water will more than make up for the service call a professional will charge you, not to mention destroying electronic parts of your machine. If you decide to tackle this yourself, you do so at your own risk. This is for informational purposes only .


Despite what you've heard on the news, Samsung makes a great washer that's pretty reliable. Their front loading washers have few real issues, and though this one is confounding, it's a fairly straightforward fix. Let's say you have a Samsung front washer that drains intermittently. It will pump out water vigorously for the first second or two, then the pump stops (which it's supposed to do) and then starts again with nary a trickle of water. So you open the manual and clean out the filter, and probably remove a years worth of spare change, barrettes, a shoelace and try again.

The washer starts and drains, but then stops again. You consider replacing the pump and if you do, find that the washer does the exact thing it did before. You curse the ground that Samsung walks on and consider the price of replacing the machine. Rather than making a rash decision, try this fix first.

You will need a wet dry vacuum, a lot of towels, a pan, a five bucket or a combination of same. You will need to remove as much water from the machine as you can. You can use the drain tube to remove most of it, but you will want to use your wet dry vacuum to suck the water out of the business end of the drain hose too. Make sure you UNPLUG the machine before doing ANY work on it and remove as MUCH water as you possibly can. You can crack open the cleanout valve with the end of your vacuum pointed toward same to lap up the water. Again, the water in the drain hose MUST be removed as you will be reaching inside the machine to remove it from the pump housing.

Remove the back of the machine; there are two screws and that panel lifts up and out. You will want to wear long sleeves and gloves for the rest of this fix to prevent cuts and scrapes. You will also want something to hold the spring clamp as you put it back on unless you have Chuck Norris hands.  Follow the drain hose to the pump housing, grab the clamp with your fingers and pull the hose off the pump housing. There is a rubber flapper valve inside the stub you just pulled the hose off. Remove this flapper and discard it; then reinstall the hose and make sure the camp is secure on same or you WILL be making an insurance claim. Admittedly, reinstalling that clamp is going to be a P.I.T.A. unless you remove the top and front of the washer, but it can be done,

Once the clamp is on, take a bucket and dump some water into the machine and make sure the connection is water tight. If you took the time to remove the top and front of the machine, it will be easier to do both, but it will take a few more minutes to remove and reinstall. The problem with these machines is that that valve will get sucked back into the stub and jam inside, restricting the flow of water. The side effect is that water may see saw a bit back and forth, but it will be negligible compared to spending hours trying to drain your washer. Maranatha!