Old 15th March 2013, 04:53   #1
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Car trouble

For a couple weeks my car seems to not have the power it once had. I switched from conventional to synthetic oil a couple thousand miles back. Still runs and all that just fine unless I press the gas to around 75% pedal.

How's this spark plug look?


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Old 15th March 2013, 10:43   #2
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Looks like you might be lean. Plugged fuel filter? Just my guess if it won't let you step on it. Synthetics aren't an issue although you probably lose any benefit if the machine has ever run conventional oil. It's not the issue here. Hopefully it isn't the "in tank" filter because they are a royal bitch to change. I'd start with changing the one up top and see if it helps. If that doesn't work it's cussing whether you hire someone to swear like a sailor or do it yourself.



Semi synthetics or just old Castrol is probably as good a choice in a car that has run conventional oil. You might think about a 1/2 cup of Marvel Mystery Oil. I love the chit. It's the only oil additive approved for aircraft. I swear by the stuff. In an old rig if you hear the valves tick, a 1/2 cup of that will make things quiet.

I have heard that it is a bad choice to run synthetic oil in a car that has run conventional oil because the oils don't mix and will make hot spots in the block. I have no personal experience that would tell me it's really true. Maybe it's a fable. Maybe not.

In the absence of other symptoms, that plug doesn't look that abnormal. If you were super lean, you'd see the end of the electrode burned.

I think your change to synthetic oil is coincidental.

A couple hints to save you fuel filter problems. Buy 76 or Chevron gas. Keep the tank at least half full all the time. Usually I find this sort of issue in a car where people ran empty and bought gas a gallon at a time.

If you ever had to take a fuel tank out to get at that damn filter, you'd be a believer in what I'm sayin'.
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Old 15th March 2013, 18:26   #3
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The biggest thing I've noticed since this started is poor fuel economy. I'm getting something like 20mpg. It's a 94 Corolla. Should be getting something like 25-28 in the city. Something is definitely wrong. Don't think it's the fuel filter but can't rule it out as a part of the puzzle.

The plugs have <10,000 miles on them.

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Old 16th March 2013, 01:22   #4
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Rule of thumb when you are wrenching anything. 99% of the time your problem is one problem. I think I'd pop for the $10 and replace the upper filter. Then it's shop time unless you have the tools to do a fuel pressure test. The symptoms are very consistent with a fuel system issue. Since a shop is probably going to hit you for $150 to talk to you, you might just give it a whack. If I remember you inherited this car in a state of no maintenance and fuel filters are part of scheduled maintenance for a reason.

That car only has OBD1 so the diagnostic information you get from it's computer is likely to be almost useless if it's tossing any code at all. If the ignition system was the problem, the plug would be wet, not hot. That plug really doesn't look that bad but it looks like it got kinda hot and that means lean.
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Old 16th March 2013, 02:32   #5
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I'll stop by the Autozone tomorrow and grab a fuel filter. I have been wanting to change it for a while. Only $20.

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Old 16th March 2013, 15:39   #6
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I think I'd call around. $20 seems a little high.
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Old 16th March 2013, 16:52   #7
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I'm not really worried about it so much. I'd probably waste the "savings" on gas getting to the place.

I changed the filter just a little while ago. Test drive shows better acceleration so far. Going to wait a week or so before giving a full review(?)...

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Old 16th March 2013, 18:16   #8
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It's not like the fuel filter isn't a maintenance part that should have changed 5 years ago On the bright side, I think it's the simplest explanation for your symptoms. It's what I'd try first. I give you 50/50 odds or maybe a little better. This is why I try to keep the maintenance on my vehicle up to the book. My friend just destroyed his car because he didn't change the timing belt on schedule. Pulled the head off last night. It's junk. If he had changed the belt, I would have expected him to get another 100,000 out of her. Pity. It's a nice clean car.... probably just too spendy to fix now...

You get into stuff like this sometimes. Do I replace the fuel filter to find out or do I pay the shop $100 to tell me if it's bad or not? Wish you were here. I have the guages. Those cost about $90.. so hmm.... I think I've used that fuel pressure gauge twice and I bought it 20 years ago.....

Good Luck.
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Old 16th March 2013, 23:19   #9
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Now I want to change the transmission fluid. I don't think that's ever been changed. Though nothing really seems obviously wrong with it.

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Old 17th March 2013, 09:12   #10
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That is another one of those things that has a maintenance schedule that will bite you in the ass if you don't take care of it. Hot day. 70 mph... 100 miles... And let's rebuild the tranny...

If you followed the book and took care of scheduled maintenance on a post 2000 car, the bastard might outlive you. It would outlive me.

This sorta reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister. "Oil is not an option". When she brought her Charger blowing blue smoke because she ran the bastard out of oil and expected me to perform a miracle.... I walk on water.. but I need ski's and a Mercruiser.

So handed her the keys to my 72 Powerwagon and told her if I pulled a dipstick and found no oil on it, I was gonna kill her. After she destroyed a $15,000 car by running it out of oil, she started paying attention.

Now she drives a GSV. How fast does that go? Holy shit that's a car. But damn. I still piss her off by puling the dipstick every time I see her and it's always got clean oil on the end of it and I give her a kiss.

Wait Kris, let me pull the dipstick and see if your are using proper car Zen.

Wipe your trans dipstick on a paper towel. If it isn't clean, bright red, have a shop flush it and fill it. ($80)

If you drive like a white man and you keep your maintenance up to snuff, you can drive rice for 400,000 easy. Hell... you can usually get 300,000 out of a Ford. Rice can even be neglected. If you clean um up.

I drive old cars, but keep them sweet.

How long will a car last if you keep up on the maintenance? It really is almost forever. Your average passenger car dies at 230,000 according to KBB. But hell, I usually take $3000-$4000 and buy something decent, do all the retroactive scheduled maintenance. Rescue the puppy.

I am a big fan of Haynes manuals. You should own one for every car you own.

Your horse will haul you down the road and if you keep up on the shit, it will outlive you.
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Old 17th March 2013, 23:17   #11
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That spark plug looks used but not ruined. I'm not a fan of that type though, and by that I mean spark plugs that have an upside down cone shaped point instead of a cylinder shaped point. Too much possibility of damage or fowling.

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Old 17th March 2013, 23:56   #12
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Gap yo plugs, bro. That shit do NOT look tiiiight.

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Old 18th March 2013, 00:24   #13
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It looks like it's on the margin of too hot. Too hot means lean. The throttle dying at 75% is another clue. It used to be in old rigs that this sort of thing was a lot more plain. You'd see melted electrode.

The plug gap looks ok to me. That also isn't as touchy as it used to be.

Maybe it's the fuel filter, maybe not, but we start to get really spendy from there, so it's a good place to start. It's where I'd start.

If it doesn't work... get a timing light and see if you're timed. The timing chain may have jumped a tooth. I think this is unlikely. Then you're looking at having someone do a real diagnostic... fuel pressure check... scantool (pretty useless with 1st gen OBD) ... some ass scratching by a real wrench....

If this was a spark plug issue, you'd have the opposite issue. It wouldn't idle and if you revved her up it would diesel. That it doesn't diesel at high rpm is sort of indicative that it doesn't have the fuel to diesel.

In the absence of the other symptoms, I think the spark plug looks like it's in the realm of normal. If I pulled it on an otherwise running car, I'd go... hmmm.... that looks like it's a little hot....

The car in question is a 300,000 miler with good maintenance. I know this car is a little beat, but hell if it isn't making any crunchy sounds, it's probably still serviceable.

Post 90' cars are good rigs. It's usually something simple if it isn't banging, clanking and leaking on the driveway. I used to wrench taxi's and my cars usually start with me with 90,000 miles on them. I usually drive until I get tired of looking at the bastard.

Start with 90,000 on the clock. Get all the maintenance to the book. Keep up the maintenance. You'll drive 150,000 miles (at least) before it needs a boneyard.

Most of these cars can be very neglected up to about 100,000 miles and still be redeemed with a little TLC.

But you can't shine a turd. It's a judgement call as to whether you are throwing good money after bad. But you still shouldn't need a bank to bomb around. Most of the things that go wrong with these rigs involves more elbow grease than you needing to be a rocket scientist.

Can I recommend Haynes manuals? They are Brit... a spanner is a wrench.. It's my first purchase on anything I buy. Haynes claims all manuals are based on a complete tear down and I believe it.

Also do not believe any old farts like me who tell you these modern rigs are harder to work on. If you have the book and can read... piece of cake. You might get intimidated by needing some specialized tools, but if you've got your Haynes manual, they've usually figured out a trick to get you by without dropping change at the dealer shop.

Fixing cars can be labor intensive (i.e my buddy who killed his car by not getting the timing belt serviced on schedule) but it's not usually rocket science, it doesn't usually need anything that a home mechanic wouldn't have in his toolbox. Can you read and hold a wrench? You're good. I'll trade some elbow grease for $95-165 an hour. Most mechanics will go along with that and talk to you about it if you ask. They work for a living too.

It's like Kelly's car. Junk if you took it to the shop. I will work for free beer. $350 and swearing like a sailor for a couple days and she'll be a good ride again. It is gonna be a royal whore to R&I all the shit to get at the timing belt to replace it. But it doesn't require brain power, just hands and common tools. We took the head to the machine shop. That's a couple hundred and it will come back w/o bent valves. Your mechanic would have done the same thing. I will need to borrow a torque wrench since mine is toast. But hell, she'll be "go fast" again by next week. $3000 or $350?

I am not a rocket scientist. I can read a book and hold a wrench. Your mileage may vary, but you guys always seemed to be on the smart side to me. You can read or you wouldn't be here. You have the dexterity to type, so you could probably hold a wrench. Don't get intimidated. A car is rocket science, but they already launched the rocket and wrote it down.

They are made to be serviced by your average monkey with a wrench.

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Old 18th March 2013, 03:41   #14
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Heh, just realized I said "fowling"...

having to do with birds?

I should have typed "fouling".

lol, sorry about that.

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Old 18th March 2013, 09:24   #15
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Fowl....... man some chicken sounds good.
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Old 18th March 2013, 20:32   #16
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Thanks for derailing the thread, Ted... Now I want some chicken. Lol

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Old 18th March 2013, 23:01   #17
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I had some chicken. The $8.99 fried chicken special at Albertsons. I flirted with the lady in the deli and she gave me an extra breast. And how can you have chicken without decent potato salad? Fired some of that up myself by mom recipe. BB dog is happy with some scraps. I'm full. I hope your car works out as well.

BB could eat a bowl of termites and it wouldn't bother her any, as opposed to my late dog that loved chicken. It was the only thing that would ever cause Daisy to raid the trash. But fart? OMG. Enough to curl your toenails up. I was thinking I should have fed Daisy some chicken and sent her to Afghanistan.
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Old 18th March 2013, 23:24   #18
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mmmm... Had General Tso's chicken today because my wife picked some up on the way home from a baby doctor appointment.

Anyway, please keep us updated on the car. I enjoy derailing, but don't want to lose the topic completely. That said, if the car is better, feel free to say so and then post chicken.

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Old 19th March 2013, 01:09   #19
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So far so good. But it seems I'm still getting intermittent power loss only different speeds and throttle now. Going to look into a transmission fluid flush before I go after the engine some more. Hopefully won't be too long. The fluid is black and doesn't seem too fluid-like.

I want the KFC famous bowl(?). The bowl that has the mashed potatos, and chicken and stuff.

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Old 19th March 2013, 05:01   #20
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There is the tank filter which you will swear at to change. Or one of the fuel pumps. I think you have 2. One on the tank and a high pressure pump up top. They are kinda spendy. I usually jury rig a generic one if they go. U-Pull-it might be good here. They don't usually ask big coin for electric parts. A change in performance sort of says you are on the right track.

Quote:
The fluid is black and doesn't seem too fluid-like.
Not good. If it's still rolling, you might not be too late. I hope you don't run into one of those situations where the dirt was all that was holding it together.

If it were me, I think I'd want your engine issue fixed before I started spending more money.
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Old 21st March 2013, 04:21   #21
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The engine seems to be running fine as far as I can tell. Transmission fluid change first before more engine stuff. Needs to be done.

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Old 22nd March 2013, 18:07   #22
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Black & burnt trans fluid is a bad omen, your trans might be toast. 50/50 chance your trans acts up shortly after the fluid flush. ATF doesn't get burnt and black without components inside the trans burning out from heat, age, abuse, or some combination thereof.


Make no mistake, you're skating on thin ice with the transmission, whether you flush it or not. I'd start saving for a rebuild.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 00:20   #23
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50/50 if it was malfunctioning when you changed the fluid. If was shifting ok and stuff, odds are you're ok.

Rebuild... nah.. U-pull-it on a rig that old. You could buy 2 of that car in better shape for what a tranny rebuild would cost. Even if it was acting up, if you didn't smell burning tranny fluid, it's probably just the modulator. That problem would probably give you an idiot light and a code even on OBD V1.

Make sure your wrecking yard will warranty the trans not be DOA. Put 300-400 miles on it without telling them. You're likely gold if it went that far. The bitch is if you get a bad one, you'll end up doing the job twice. It's the drawback of not paying $100 an hour shop time. I've sure swapped a lot of trannies. Mostly not twice. 9/10 times the wrecking yard trannies were ok.

This is more of an issue on vintage cars. Newer one are usually designed to run their 250,000 mile lifespan even being relatively neglected. I can't believe how low a priority people put on maintenance. Most people just beat the shit out of their cars and they still get 200,000.

I had one come in the shop one time. I was looking crosseyed at the boss for buying it. It had 75,000 on it and the oil had never been changed. It still ran ok, and it was an ok taxi for another 200,000 with reasonable maintenance from then on. There wasn't anything in the crankcase except goo. It didn't leak and it hadn't run out of goo

Also, don't turn rotors on old cars. That's another wrecking yard item. Look at em' If they aren't cracked or warped, you're good. It'll be a little noisy for a few hundred miles until the shoes grind down to fill in the grooves. They will wear out quicker. Pretty much.. so what? It stopped when you ground the shoes down to the rivets didn't it?

Brake shops can turn something you can fix to be serviceable for $50 into $1000 in a hurry. This isn't a rip off. They're doing it right. It's just hmmm...

One spendy thing you really should make sure is done on the maintenance schedule is timing belts. It can get exponentially expensive if you snap one. So even if you need a shop and can't DYI, get er done.

Luckily, I think the car in question here has a chain. Those are pretty bullet proof. It doesn't do anything for the performance because it makes red line a lot lower, but it is usually a lifetime part instead of a timing belt which should be done usually every 75,000 or so. Your owners manual will say.

So they'res your 2 cents from your taxi mechanic/guy who likes no car payment. That nice shiny clean taxi you rode in likely was a piece of shit before I got to it. You never knew the difference.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 01:20   #24
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The timing belt needs to be changed also. My sister didn't do any maintenance to this car.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 03:09   #25
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Yeah with that many miles, it's amazing it's still on there. If it's jumping teeth, it might be part of your symptom.

Could kill the motor permanent if it snaps. Probably not. If the water pump is in the flight path of the job, I'd probably change it rather than having to go back in that far ever.

You get this thing running good and it will probably run. You've just been doing maintenance stuff on it, and it's still with us.

Next time you change the oil, use Castrol GTX High Mileage Oil. It's cheaper. It's better for what you're running. I think about $6 a quart. This Castrol stuff has gasket softeners and stuff so you don't get brittle.

Everybody should be using this stuff.

http://www.marvelmysteryoil.com/inde...site/products/

Since 1923... Works real good.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 04:50   #26
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It may have been changed before but I have no idea. My grandma was the owner before my sister. My sister only had the car for 4 or 5 years.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 06:52   #27
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Cars need good fluids. If a flush and fill kills the transmission, it was gonna go really soon anyway. But I dunno about a timing belt. That's a lot of trouble for a car that is probably on it's last year or two. They do become irreparable. Passenger cars usually last 230,000 miles, but almost none of them last 250,000

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Old 23rd March 2013, 08:20   #28
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It's amazing to see you guys talking about taking care of cars these days. It seems everyone just wants them to work without maintenance and if they do run into trouble $200-$300 a pop at mechanic is what people are willing to do. I think it's nuts. Fix your own car, take care of them and they will last you years. Save 2/3rds your money and do it yourself if you have the time and are not a millionaire.

Cars are like all creatures in the world, if you take care of them they will take care of you.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 08:32   #29
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If you do nothing else, just use the Jiffy Lube. How bout some clean oil? $29.95 every three months is too much trouble for a car I paid 20,000 for.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 15:10   #30
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All timing belt changes should include a water pump change, even if the water pump is good. The timing belt change is a huge job, and yet the cost to add a water pump to that job is not much more. If you have to someday go back in to get the water pump, you're in for another huge job, so it makes more sense to change it when the belt is changed. Personally I don't have the willingness to do a timing belt change; on jobs that big I'd rather have the mechanic do it.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 15:21   #31
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1994 Corolla had two different available engines, both are noninterference; so no big deal if the timing belt snaps. It'll just stop running, won't cause expensive piston/valvetrain damage.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 16:53   #32
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Good point, no big deal for the car, luckily on these newer engines. But that all depends on where and when you are stranded. What appointment or date or meeting is waiting? Is there cell phone service there? Will there be a tow truck on call at that hour?

My brother's car stranded me a couple times when I was a teenager (before cell phones were common). We often traded vehicles because he occasionally needed my pickup truck to haul stuff. It was really nothing scary most of the time, but at one point I was stuck at a rural road at night not remembering which way would take me to the nearest house (I was coming home from a university visit, still undecided where I wanted to enroll). In that case it turned out to be some kind of bad wiring harness and not the timing belt. I walked for about a half hour and was eventually picked up by an old guy that brought me to a pay phone. I ended up waiting at that pay phone for another hour or more with the old dude, who was afraid to let me wait on my own, before a cousin finally made it to pick me up. Had it not been for my cousin, I would have had to call my parents, who were an additional two hours away. Needless to say I never borrowed my brother's car again unless just for short drives.

If it's something that could strand you, think about stuff like this. If you're just putzing around town during the day and not on a time sensitive mission, with a cell phone within service area, you have nothing to worry about, but if not, use a different car until you're more confident that all the maintenance is up to date and that you're in a reliable vehicle.

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Old 23rd March 2013, 21:35   #33
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Good you looked that up.. Not an interference motor. Just a tow, plus whatever it costs you to fix it. It might make you late for work, but a new car might do that too.

I have one of those little fold up bikes in the trunk. You can cover a few miles pretty quick on one of those. Fun if you're camping or at the beach. A guy can can walk 20 or 30 miles if you have to. My longest walk was when a brand new truck took a crap. 45 miles. It took me 10 hours, but I walked out. Then I went and got my old beater truck and yarded it out The brand new Ford Ranger was the one I parked on the street at the jobs I was working and bidding. The 1971 beat to crap Dodge power wagon that I usually parked somewhere no one would see was what did the hauling.

That Ranger was sweet looking. Diamond took box. 4WD. But it was a decoy. I wasn't gonna fuck up my good truck

Hey guys, did you see a good place to hide the Powerwagon? I also had a 71 International 2 ton which ($900) which I would also hide. It was good for hauling rock and bark... dump the stuff and hide the truck. The dump bed was worth more than the truck.

Don't scratch the good truck. I don't care what happens to the rest.... It always had a pair of clean clothes in it because if I need to bid something, I'd show in my nice shiny truck wearing brand new Carhardt's. First impressions matter.

Ford XLT Ranger... 4 wheel drive so I could make sure I had gum, pit guard and clean clothes It was also really handy if you wanted to make a good impression asking to hunt private land. Not that I actually ever took my good truck off road....

I got to hunt a lot of places that were posted. A case beer here or there. A thank you note. Some deer sausage. When you're nice to people, they are usually nice back.

Hunting season... I'd just get a tag and shoot one on the way to work. All the ranchers/farmers cared about it that you didn't shoot their livestock and closed the gates.
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Old 6th April 2013, 19:01   #34
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So I checked the transmission fluid earlier today and found it was pretty much what it was supposed to be(a red(ish) fluid)... My problem is that I had found black goop(?) in checking it before.

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Old 7th April 2013, 02:03   #35
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If it shifts ok now. Have em change the fluid. That's just maintenance. You can pump it out yourself but Jiffy Lube will do it for about $80 the last time I did it. Usually it's 25,000 as the service interval.
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Old 7th April 2013, 07:01   #36
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Seeing as I don't have the room or tools to do my own maintenance (which is not a norm for me) I took my car to a canada wide store called "Canadian Tire" they switched out my alternator (because I had reason to believe there was problems with it) as well as do a full break work up and a oil change.

It took them seven hours to do, (from my experience breaks, oil change, and alternator change should take no more than three hours with beer involved) so I was quite disappointed. Then they had the balls to leave a sticker on my window calling for more maintenance in the next 3000 km's.

I'll never trust another shop to do my maintenance again. Thing has at least 7000 km's till next maintenance. Maybe 3000 for a check but nothing serious.

This was my first time ever using a third party to do my work, and it was the most terrible experience I've ever had (Canadian Tire is well known for the work they do) If this is what the average Canadian expects as "good service" they must be retarded.

EDIT// I should add that I was $50 shy of a $1000 bill. Their "Technicians" must be getting a damn good wage because I could have done this job my self for a third of that price. Needless to say I was absolutely appalled. I get "garage price" for parts I buy (this is what the parts store buys them for) I should have bought the parts my self, brought them to the "tech's" and then watched and timed them as they installed it.

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Old 7th April 2013, 21:46   #37
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I've been going to Jiffy Lube and Walmart for oil changes and tires. So far not bad. Jiffy Lube is by far the quickest for oil changes. Though they list my car as a 98(1zz?) and not a 94(7AFE).

I put some transmission "fix" into the transmission to see if it does anything. So far it feels like it's shifting better. So it's looking like a fluid change may be what it needs.

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Old 8th April 2013, 01:46   #38
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@ mike-db: call the Canadian Tire customer service people. Hopefully they'll help you out. 7 hours is stupid long for all you had done, and even if it did take that long, incompetence would be the only explanation based on the information you gave me. Alternator and oil swap would take a half hour total if you know what you're doing. Brakes all around (rotors and pads) might take another hour and a half if you have all the supplies/tools on hand, maybe an additional half hour if they ran into some trouble somehow with calipers or whatever, so yeah, 2.5 hours in a shop, 3 hours at home with beer and just a car jack, just like you said.

http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/co...=1351187369030

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Old 11th April 2013, 08:56   #39
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So when I get some money I'm changing the fluid. I'm also going to take the bus for a while so I can save gas. $30/mo(bus pass) vs $30+/wk(full tank).

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Old 20th April 2013, 03:37   #40
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You get cheap bus passes. Here's it's $72.
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