Weekend Warrior

mostly about cars, driving them, fixing them, rating them and occasionally fixing computers, phones and things around the house

Dealerships just don't care

I have dealt with four dealerships now, Ford (Human Auto), Honda, Toyota (Oranje) and recently Mazda. They all have one thing in common, they don't care much about the parts department. You get a feeling that the person working there is just doing a job, They have no specialised knowledge of what they are doing. There is almost always waiting involved, even when there is no queue. The aftermarket places on the other hand are much better.

Ford, I went there looking for some parts for my Mazda B2000. Mazda and Ford used to be together for many years, even sharing platforms where the only difference would be maybe an engine and the grill, the rest of the car is the same. It's sort of like those couples who bombard you about how in love they are on social media and they break up, not only are you now expected to not ask what happened, you expected to know that something happened. If you are one of these I unfollow immediately. The people at Ford would not only not help me, they wouldn't even tell me where Mazda is. Nevermind that my Mazda came from their dealership. They were so rude about it also. I'm just some how supposed to know that they don't deal with Mazdas anymore because they now had a divorce, and not even bring it up.

The Honda dealership, it's a small counter with one guy working there. He is an ok guy but you get a feeling he would probably rather be doing something else. I have been there and had to wait half an hour while the sales people tell me he will be here shortly. If you don't provide the vin he will have difficulty providing the right parts but at least he is a cool guy not rude like Ford.

Toyota, The guy was a bit more helpful but he also didn't know a lot. He wasn't super friendly but line at this point is not rude and he wasn't rude so that's a win I guess. The biggest problem with Toyota is they keep nothing in stock, everything is 3 day business wait your order.

And then there is Mazda, where I recently went. After standing for a while with no help, I got asked if I needed help. Then the help took forever. I could see the screen and this guy was struggling to use a computer system to select the right part and find a price for me. It took more than 20 minutes to find out how much a brake padel boot would cost. Then after finding out, I have to wait 3 days also.

I guess they all make their money from car services and selling parts so they don't care much about the parts side of the business. In contrast my Midas car not only is quick helpful and passionate, he knows the car you need help with, and they deal in most cars not just one brand. If he doesn't have the part he knows where you can find it. I don't know what the deal is with dealerships.

Honda Civic FD - Window washers not working

I was driving Ironbelly, my FD Civic, the other day and the window was dirty. So I flick the switch almost absentmindedly because this is the "new car" in the house, it's a 2009 model but for me that's new but anyway, so I flick the switch and nothing happens. I can hear the pump humming but no water on the window. I'm thinking damnit, another unexpected expense.

I ignored it for a few days and just drove with a dirty window. This weekend I finally worked up the energy to go investigate and find out what's wrong. Since I could hear the pump humming I knew it can't be electrical since that's prove the pump is receiving power, so it can't a fuse. Might be out of water, I added some nothing, I can still hear the pump but nothing at the washers.

So I disassembled the plastic covers on the sides and the one at the window and immediately noticed what looks like a pinch in the water hose. Someone had clearly disassembled this covers before put them together and forgotten the window washer hose, saw it afterwards and instead of re-disassembling the covers again just took the lazy way out and squeezed the hose under one of the covers. I have no idea how it's been working fine for the 4 or so years I have had the car. Immediately after relieving that pinch the water started spraying normally out of the washers.

While I had it disassembled I decided to clean the mud and leaves that had collected under there. This required me removing the wipers which let to discovering the were swapped, so I first had to put them right. I forgot to mark where they sit on the window though which let to a trial and error way of reinstalling them in the car.

Third DIY job concluded with no pain. I'm cautiously optimistic lol.

No hot water - Geyser silent

I expected this to be a complex job but it wasn't. I definitely wasn't looking forward to paying a callout fee to plumber or electrician. So I fetched my toolbox and my multimeter and went for it.

Switched off the isolation switch, removed the cover. Something was immediately apparent, there was what could only be described as a scorch mark on the Live wire and the thermostat. I tested the voltage, all 240 volts were arriving safely at the thermostat but it could still mean the heating element is the one with a problem. So I removed the thermostat and tested it for continuity and the test was negative, no continuity. 

The element had continuity so I took that to mean the thermostat is the issue. I went to Builders warehouse, got a new one. I put it in, connected all the wires, put on the isolation switch and it immediately started with that familiar hum of a kettle after you put it on. I assume this means it's fixed. I still don't know what caused the issue with the thermostat though. I expect there will be hot water soon.

Second DIY job getting knocked out in a short time. I don't know if I'm getting better or it's just easy jobs. who knows. I'm glad it worked though. 

Brandt BRV

I was parked at a petrol station and a very muddy raised bakkie carrying a quart bike pulled up. It looked like a defender but something about it's proportions wasn't ride. It had no badges on it so I couldn't make up what it is. I briefly considered going to the driver and asking him what it is but that seemed uhmm imprudent. I saw the letters BRV on the back when I left. 

So began my quest to identify what this vehicle is. I tried googling but I only came up with Hondas. I thought maybe being dyslexic I have the letters in the wrong order so tried other combinations but no luck. What could it be? Is it a Chinese brand, what is it? I get very irritated when I can't come up with an answer for something I am curious about. I have stayed up all night before trying to find a video I once saw, till I found it lol, waste of time I know but nothing like the relief of finding the answer I'm seeking, must be like what others experience in the bathroom but that's another story. I digress.

I saw another one some 6 months later, it definitely says BRV in the back. Again I couldn't find anything on line about what this vehicle is. This week while driving to a home affairs office I drove through an industrial area and I saw a handful of them parked outside. The giant board on the fence said Brandt BRV. I went and googled this and this time I found their website. I went through it and it turns out they are a local manufacturer based in Bloemfontein.

They make 3 variants with varying trim and engine sizes, They use Cummings engines. I was utterly shocked that there is local car maker in Bloem. I wonder how much it takes to get a new car certified especially one not based on an existing Chassis. They seem to not be body on frame so that means from scratch design. 

The prices seem a bit expensive but I guess it makes sense for a boutique car maker. I wonder about other things too like where the rest of the parts come from. I at least have that sweet sweet relief of knowing the answer to question, What the hell is a BRV? well turns out it's a locally produced offroad bakkie. 

Toyota Corolla 1.3 2001 2E - Rear speaker update

I did a thing, I did a thing, I did a thing. This is strange especially for this car. I went late in the day and got something done. Usually I get problems with this car but not this time. I replaced the speakers and it took less than an hour. They worked perfectly. This is weird for me with this car.

Ok so, the speakers on this car are the original speakers that came with the car. They are old panasonics made of paper. They have cones which I haven't seen since I was a child. The cones were just falling apart from just barely touching them.

So I replaced them with this JVCs from takealot.com. I don't know much about speakers, the just looked affordable with the discount on them and their numbers seemed high. I'm kidding I read up and they were ok for the price, I'm not an audiophile. 

I wanted solder them but as it turns out my iron is dead. Long story short, I left it on for a long time and I have been scared to put it on and check if it still works and as it turns out it doesn't. So I couldn't use it. I just wrapped the wires and in cased them in insulation tape. They sound great and whole thing took less than an hour. This is like a never happen in DIY.

 

Toyota Corolla 1.3 2001 2E - Front suspension revamp Part 4

Started today expecting something to be seriously wrong with the right side of the car. I wasn't looking forward to working on it. Even though I had an early morning, I only started on it around midday. 

I took the kuckle assembly to a suspension pro shop, where they told me the new bearing I had just had pressed in by a friend as a favour cannot be saved. I went to Midas and bought another bearing. When they pressed out the bearing they found to their utter shock that the bearing was missing the front face that sits against the hub, the metal balls were just exposed. I don't know how this could have happened. I imagine someone at the engineering shop screwed up the bearing and just didn't say. In any case I have learned a valuable lessen. The Honda also needs bearings, and I'm definately just gonna pay to have it pressed by the pro shop instead of asking for favours.

I reassembled it and took it out for a test drive. It has no sounds which is welcome but the is a slight vibration under braking. This is caused by the warpage of disks. This specific model is very prone to that because of it's non ventilated disks. I suspect the disk not running straight caused the warpage this time around. it is a bit annoying that I constantly have to replace half used brake pads because of this. 

I would like to remedy this problem once and for all by upgrading the brakes to the ventilated disks version which will require changing the calipers. I do however hope the knuckle is at least the same because otherwise it's a much bigger expense. For now the car is working and back on the road which I'm glad about. I can finally move to other projects.

I will upload a video to the Nkolex YouTube channel on this project once the editing is complete.

Toyota Corolla 1.3 2001 2E - Front suspension revamp Part 3

I go for a drive and there is rubbing sound. I dismissed it as brakes, the disks had gotten wet when the boot flooded in heavy rain. They were quite a bit rusty, so I expected to have some initial rubbing sound. However this was getting worse and the wheel wanted to stop.

I leave it on the side of the road, walk some 50 or so mitres home fill the Honda with tools and drove back. Strangely I wasn't even upset now, just numb. I take the left wheel off, the dust plate was a bit bent, I unbend it. I put the wheel back, go back in the car, still scrapping. I take out the right wheel and immediately there is a pile of iron shavings. something is rubbing something.

I take off the disk on the side of the road with traffic going back which is nerve wrecking. The disk is scrapping on the 3 bolts that hold the dust plate onto the knuckle. my conclusion from all this is the people at the engineering place didn't tighten the bolts. Since these bolts were now ruined and bent I replaced them. I button it up, put it in gear, surprise surprise scrapping is back. I hobble it home park it and go treat myself with a fishaways because I needed something nice to just make feel better.

So today I took it apart again and realised that the one thing I didn't expect to be the problem is the problem. The bearing has play in it. This allows the disk to run unevenly too close to the dust cover and scrapping. 

Unfortunately there is no warranty on favours. i can't just take the knuckle back to the engineering place and go, this bearing was not put in right. Frankly I don't think judging by how long it took I would wanna go back but even if I did wanna go back, I really can't because it was a favour, I didn't pay for it. So now I have to figure out how I'm gonna sort this out. 

I'm just hoping that I'm not gonna have to replace this new bearing that I just bought. I'm tempted to just go to a scrap yard and get a new used knuckle, it seems like a waste of money though. Also I bought this new hubs, I would like to use them. But I also really want this car back on the road.

I need strength...

 

Toyota Corolla 1.3 2001 2E - Front suspension revamp Part 2

I had initially thought this would take me a week but I was now 2 weeks into it. This brings us to a problematic thing called the favour. Budget being so tight I decided to ask the engineering shop to press in the new bearings for me. I have had 2 engines built there including the one in this car. I get along ok with the owner so I asked him to help me out.

It took a couple of weeks before they even looked in the box that had the knuckles and the new bearings. Then when I went to collect them they tell me, I need to replace the hubs. I had to wait for month end because you know, I got the checking and savings (Kevin Hart reference) lol. It's now 3 or 4 weeks into this I don't know, I have lost count at this point. I eventually get the hubs and take them to the engineering place.

I keep calling, they keep telling me tomorrow. Eventually I just go there and they are closed I can see a guy inside but he isn't opening, it's almost 16:00 so I thought ok, I will come back tomorrow. I go back earlier, they are closed, I call the owner and he is like oh we moved. I get to their new premises, still not done. I go again a week later, still not done. I couple day later they are done I bring them home.

I put the car back together, start it up and run it for a few minutes and the temperature guage just runs all the way passed full faster than I have ever seen it go before. At this point I'm thoroughly depressed...and just leave it.

Turns out it was my fault. The guage has an earth wire that used to be earthed on one of the strut mount bolts. I had completely forgot about it. I only found out after replacing temperature sensors and I was now looking at replacing the thermostat. I luckily saw the wire and earthed on a different place on the body which addressed the guage issue.

Now I can go test driving right, nope...

Toyota Corolla 1.3 2001 2E - Front suspension revamp Part 1

This car, Silvaki to those who know her is probably solely responsible for all my grey hairs. There were a number of complaints I wanted to address with this car and all of the them were random sounds it makes when you get in, when it turns and when it's driving. My goal was to make it silent again.

For as long as I have know this car it has had a bit of a collapsed looking front suspension, which I thought was to do with it's really seen better days strut mounts, they literally looked like a desert. So the idea was to replace the mounts, the struts, the bottom rubber isolators, the ball joints and front wheel bearings.

The budget was tight so all these parts were supposed to come from Midas instead of Toyota. This was admittedly the source of most of my problems. I removed the 3 nuts that hold the strut mount to the strut tower. obviously I had already removed all the other parts like the knuckle, brakes and steering arm. I hadn't realised that the strut bolt would be such a mission to turn. I don't have a vice so all these was done on the ground. you try to turn it, the whole thing turns, it's awkward to hold. I ended up using vice grips to hold on to the plate below the mount and letting it dig into the ground when I turn the bolt. The second strut I loosened the bolt slightly while it was still on the car which made things a whole lot easier.

I only realised around this time that the struts I bought are not exactly the the same. specifically, the old struts have a bracket welded to them that the brake hose is bolted to. the bracket on the new ones was different and at a different location. So had I bought them from Toyota I suspect they would be the correct ones but at least they fit. turns out the is a small dust cork thingy between the mount and the plate. These small things like those cork and rubber isolators, no one carried them so I had to get from toyota. I had to wait 3 days between each parts because apparently they don't keep anything in stock.

putting the struts back together was hard because, the plates where a bit worn. they are supposed to hold the struts shaft and prevent it from spinning so you can tighten the nut. Because they were worn and the new ones were just too expensive, and the scrap yard wanted to sell me the whole strut assembly I had to patiently work on it until I got it on. To make matters more complex the pirate strut mounts that I got from Midas a bit small for the 22 mm socket that tightens the strut nut. The mission of assembling this strut made want to quit, but the lessons I learned from fiddling with this strut for a week came in handy when I put together the next one together in 2 hours.

This was just the struts....

Toyota Corolla 1.6 GLS 2001 pops out of 4th and 5th gear

I got this Toyota Corolla 1.6 GLS 2001 that pops out of 4th gear and 5th gear. It drives fine, it has no sounds, for all intents and purposes it feels like a great car, right up until I start accelerating in 4th or 5th gear it just pops back into neutral.

I started having a look at the gear linkages, they seemed fine except one had what could accurately be described as a scatch gear linkage pin. I replaced the pin, needless to say that had no effect. I then realised that the right side mount was completely shot. I replaced the mount, and surprise surprise no effect. The last issue was to check the oil level. I had been treading this because someone had strapped the gearbox filler plug.

I had some experience with this problem because I had strapped a gearbox filler plug on a different Corolla myself last year and it turned out to be a complete nightmare. I had already drained the gearbox so I couldn't drive the car to my mechanic to get help. I had to go fetch him and even he struggled to get it off. So I knew what was in store for me with this one and I was determined that I was gonna get it off myself.

Armed with my prior experience I didn't drain the gearbox before getting the filler plug off. This lived up to my expectations. It took 3 days of struggle, I even bought a Butane torch to try and use heat to expand it and that still didn't work. Eventually I had to go buy an extractor set. I drilled a whole in the middle of the plug and put an extractor in. It took 3 hours to gently drive the extractor while trying to not create iron fillings and I ended up using back of a socket to drive it. When it finally came off I thought I broke something.

I could then confidently drain the gearbox knowing I would be able to fill it. To my utter shock, only half a cup of oil came out. This gear box on a similar car last year took about four 500ml bottles. I think the most likely scenario is that someone made the same mistake I made last year. They drained the gearbox before opening the filler plug. They then strapped the filler plug trying to remove it so they couldn't refill the gearbox. So they pulled the dick move of just closing the drain plug and giving the car back to the owner and not saying anything.

I bought a new filler plug with a much bigger head and refilled the gearbox which took like I expected four and a half 500ml bottles of oil. I took the car out and it stayed in 4th and 5th gear under acceleration even pushing it all the way to 120kph. So this was the issue, someone didn't fill oil in the gearbox.

The last issue I'm still having with this car is the ABS light. It throws error 13 and 14 which I will still have to figure out.