Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oh boy.

Cars are great.. when they work. The past few weeks I've learned a lot about the ignition systems of cars- because as soon as the rainy season started, the Volvo's ignition system started to self-destruct. This resulted in the car completely shutting down in the middle of the highway, intersection, left-handturn lane, or wherever happened to be the busiest place it could find.

At one point I stalled in the left-hand turn lane of a busy intersection, rolled back into the car behind me, and a police officer who witnessed the whole thing pulled up beside me and gave me a tongue lashing about the use of brakes. Thankfully the guy behind me laughed it off and drove away, citing 'no damage.'

Anyway, $700+ later (haven't seen the total wallet damage yet.. my brother has the receipts), and many hours spent by my brother installing parts (for which I am very grateful for), it now runs fine, save for a small 'hiccup' when idling. When I first brought it home, my bro repaired the rust on the door, welded the door on more solidly, and I washed and waxed it. I bought a club and thought that was a lot of work already.

Enter the mysterious ignition conundrum! The first thing to go in was a new battery.

Next was an oil change and powersteering fluid. Then I bought some car mats just to stroke the car's ego a bit (or bribe it to stop shutting down).

But it was still crapping out, worse than ever before. So my brother came to test it, and brought a very neat flashing strobelight that clamps on to the ignition. When it misses a flash, it means the ignition is missing a spark. I was also very surprised to see that the car can 'talk' to you and tell you what's wrong (in an eerie ouiji-board manner). Under the hood, there is a little black box with a flashing red light on it. Push the button, and it flashes a series of codes, which correspond with a list of problems in the manual.

The code indicated 'camshaft position sensor.' The camshaft position sensor senses when the pistons are up or down, and lets the ignition know when to fire a spark. So in went this new part.....a part so tiny, lightweight and simple-looking, I am tempted to start manufacturing them myself, since they are worth $260.

And that did it! The car stopped shutting down completely! But it was still stuttering between gears, and at one point refused to go past 80 km/h. So in went a new distributor cap

Disributor rotor

Ignition wire set

and Spark Plugs.

The car runs fine now, save for the mysterious hiccup. A main ignition wire will be going in soon as well, as the original one is corroded. Hopefully that will be the cause.

It has been a harrowing week, what with being stranded on the highway, angry officer action, cancelling appointments, and lots of commuting between Delta and Burnaby.

The front left-turn signal light cover also fell off somewhere while driving today and I have just been informed it needs a new thermostat too. I already have a list of future things that need to be done (aka 'things I will mostly bug my brother to do someday'):

-Recharge A/C
-Repair wiring so that I can see whether I'm in Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive at night
-Fix door so it doesn't make gunshot noise
-Fully paint over door that had the rust patched up
-Lower headlights so ppl stop highbeaming me
-Figure out what makes the scraping noise when it starts
-Add a chrome tip on the rusted exhaust pipe
-Test the cd player and see if it really is skipping

Dear friends: I now have a car so that I may visit you, and we can do sociable, fun things. But now I have no more money to do sociable, fun things. So how about you come over, and we sit on the curb and gaze at my newly fixed car? It'll be rad.


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