feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
On the Thursday evening drive home from work the Expedition was acting rather oddly. It was stumbling on acceleration, had an uneven idle and generally felt like one of the cylinders was misfiring. Halfway through the commute the Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminated, which didn't surprise me -- after all, the engine was clearing having a problem. What was more vexing was that immediately after lighting up the CEL started flashing. I'm not sure about other OBD-II equipped vehicles, but on a Ford that flashing means something has gone seriously awry. Eventually the light stopped flashing and went back to steady illumination, which eased my mind a bit that I wasn't about to drop a piston on I-88 right in the middle of Downer's Grove.

Being who I am I did, of course, hope that it was simply a random happenstance. The Expy is sometimes a fickle truck and it's been known to have the odd misfire that happens one day and then disappears the next, not to return for a year or more. Friday's drive to and from the office confirmed that this is, unfortunately, not the case. I haven't put the code scanner on the truck yet, but I'm relatively certain it's the same ailment that has befallen that engine before: the ongoing failures of the coil pack on cylinder number eight. This is something of a "known bug" on this particular year (1998) and model of engine (Triton v8 5.4L). I've replaced this coil pack at least twice before, so if I get back "Misfire on Cylinder 8" from the OBD scanner I won't be in the least surprised. However, it's about 3 degrees below freezing outside and I don't have a level surface to work on (read: the garage is full of Stuff, as it has been for the last few years) and I don't relish the idea of receiving frostbite on my fingers or breaking something that's plastic inside the engine compartment. So this time around I'll be sending the Expedition off to a mechanic to have this coil pack replaced. Downside to this plan? Oh yes, there's a downside -- my favorite mechanic moved out of Bolingbrook, closed the shop they moved to, moved again (even further away) and seem to have closed again. The last phone number that [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon had for them has been "Temporarily Disconnected," which is a bad sign. I suspect that once again he's gone under due to poor location, or he's relocated again for the same reason. Regardless of the cause, I don't think I'll be chasing after him. The location he left behind has been occupied by a new mechanic ("Nuno's") and a friend has recommended another nearby shop ("Tuffy's"). I'll give them both a call on Monday and see what sort of lead time and prices are quoted to me.

I hate paying for work I could (and have) complete myself! However, I think in this case (it's below freezing in the winter, the process takes a long time to get done, I'd be out in the weather for several hours swearing at the cold and the components I have to replace while trying to evolve two more elbows on my right arm) I think my comfort wins out over my desire to save a hundred dollars or so in labor charges.

Right here right now
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
In late June of this year put a new stereo receiver in my truck is from Pioneer and has many fancy features such as HD Radio, iPod control, iTunes tagging, Bluetooth link to my phone, etc.

Today, while the engine was being particularly stubborn about turning over, I drained the battery on the truck. The radio promptly rewarded my by losing all of my station presets, all of my preferences and the date/time was wiped out as well. The date & time I can understand, but station presets and user peferences? That's just unforgivable!

I cannot believe that in this brave year of 2012, car radio manufacturers STILL do not know what NVRAM is and how they might use it for Good. 

I can't believe I have to get angry about this shit! Technology should have solved this First World Problem a decade ago.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Sakuranym - Feren_profile)
Total damage (not counting the $10.99 I spent on the replacement hose last night) for the work done by the brake & muffler shop: $140.

I paid $50 in labor for the line to be replaced (which I figure comes out to something akin to $2/minute) and $90 for the brake system flush. It's not the greatest deal ever, but at least I didn't have to crawl around in the dark and cold last night without a lift to do the hose replacement, so there's something to be said for that. Given that the truck has 188,000+ miles on it, it was due for a brake flush so I don't begrudge the cost too much. All in all it was money well spent, especially since I once again have a vehicle that can arrest its own movement without the need for theatrics on my part.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Sakuranym - Feren_profile)
As a follow-up to my earlier entry about the brakes on my truck having total failure, I've figured out what went wrong. )

Taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide
feren: I AM THE MAN (koz)
[Edit @1902 12/8/09: Made it home safely. The I-88 merge was crappy and gave me a few scares in different spots, but got through it without incident. The truck is parked in the driveway and waiting for me to look at it tomorrow.]

When I left the Wood Dale office tonight the Expedition had what can only be described as a catastrophic brake failure. As in: push brake pedal to the floor with sickening ease and the truck doesn't slow appreciably. Also, on the dash, the BRAKE light is on, glowing angrily in red at me.

You can bet I am not driving to work tomorrow. But I do have to get home to figure out what went wrong.

It has been and is going to continue to be a very interesting commute home.

Right now I am on the shoulder at the I-88 interchange on Southbound I-355, preparing myself for the challenge of very carefully negotiating the merging traffic. This is the worst spot of all, really.

Once I have done that I've got about fifteen miles to go before I reach my driveway. Thank god for downshifting, parking brakes and hazard lights.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Seskata)
I woke up this morning from a dream about work. How awesome is that? Even after a long day of hanging out with friends like [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc I can't have a peaceful night of slumber without work rearing its ugly head. The dream, for those who are interested, was a two-for-one deal. The first half was a problem of getting diverse fiber routed inside a building without the strands taking similar paths... I even managed to include concrete coring work! The second half of the dream was about making sure VPN access was configured to poorly-named drive shares for a financial planning package as FY 09 approaches.

I don't like that work is invading my dreams.

Once I pulled myself out of bed I went out to deal with the truck. I spent the bulk of Wednesday morning working on the intake system and since then the truck has run better. Not great and certainly not right, but better. As the temperature outside was was well over 45F I wanted to do more work on it today and see if I could fix the stumble that the engine experiences on mild acceleration at ~1,500 RPM. Alas, there were no new error codes thrown by the computer and my visual examination of a suspect area on the exhaust system (errors on Wednesday referenced problems with the O2 sensors) turned up nothing of value. So for the hours of 10AM to 1PM, instead of engine work, I focused on fixing the damage the Expedition suffered back in April of 2007. The busted fog light enclosure has been replaced, as has the turn signal enclosure that went missing after I kissed that "sawhorse." While I had things apart I also replaced the headlight that burned out during the impact. What a chore that was! If I have time later this week I will be sure to send a love letter to Ford about how ridiculous it is that I had to pull out the cowl, air filter housing and the coolant overflow tank in order to get access to the bulb. Regardless, all the bulbs and enclosures that were missing or damaged have been replaced. Given that I had already taken such a large portion of the engine compartment apart for the other work I decided it wouldn't be unreasonable to replace the grill as well. Sadly for me, as I began working the screws that hold the grill in place, I encountered a number of ones that would spin but wouldn't actually back out from their retaining clips. The sky that had been clear and sunny before was growing overcast and the temperature was dropping, so I opted to leave that as a project for another weekend in the spring.

I have a truck that is once again fully street-legal! I can't tell you how nice it is to have a working left turn signal and both headlights back -- I have especially missed having a full set of headlights. I would be remiss if I did not give credit to the fine folks at CertiFit as they had all the parts I needed at incredibly low prices. Thanks to them the bulk of this repair work has cost me far, far less than I was expecting it to.
feren: I AM THE MAN (doctor-pwned)
My route up to [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon's place involves a good portion of I-294. For those who don't live in the Chicago area and thus have no reason to know about this road, I-294 is a major loop for I-94. It is also currently undergoing major reconstruction in a number of places.

This is gonna hurt the Expy more than it hurts me. )
In the end I'm okay and the truck is more than okay to drive. It just needs some work done to it. Seeing as how I have nobody to blame but myself for this situation I can't be too angry about it. My only goal at this point is to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

[Edit at 1149 4/14: I have to wonder how much of this damage could have been minimized if I'd just given myself this really nice grill and brush guard for Christmas last year, eh?]

Life is a highway
feren: I AM THE MAN (card)
The title will make itself clear in a short enough time, dear reader. Just grin and bear it for a moment while I set up some of the back story.

For the last two or three weeks I've been listening to my pickup truck make a noise that can only be accurately described as "frowny noises" (Thank [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus for that term!) each time I step on the brake pedal. It started out as a light whine or squeak when I hit the brakes, and that progressed into something not nearly as subtle and a lot more shrill. It became highly alarming to me on Wednesday night when I was coming home and I heard a squeal that sounded a lot like metal pressing against metal. There was no sign of the sound I was dreading the most -- the angry grind of rivets against discs -- but it was possible that wouldn't be far behind. Thursday I spent the drive to and from the office doing everything in my power to avoid pressing on the pedal at all, going so far as to jake-brake the truck to a nice leisurely coast before I gingerly applied the brake pedal.

Like most automotive problems I've encountered the time-tested tradition of ignoring the matter and hoping it would go away on its own did, in fact, do nothing for me in terms of actually fixing the problem. I knew from previous experience that this was something I would have to get fixed, and that my procrastination would only serve to make the repairs more expensive. I've been down the road of brake repairs numerous before, you see, and I've seen the damage that a brake caliper can inflict upon a disc once the pad has worn away and there's nothing but rivets left to stop your vehicle. This situation had already occurred once upon my pickup and I wasn't terribly thrilled about the idea of it happening a second time on a new pair of discs. Since I wanted to go hang out with a couple of friends from FurryMuck on Saturday I decided that Friday would be the best time to take the truck in for repairs. The end of the week seemed ideal because I could escape from work an hour or so early, skip up to the shop and get the work done. Once they were done I could pay my bill and get on my way knowing I was driving a safer vehicle and that I'd save myself a good chunk of change by not doing further damage to my discs. Pity that plan fell apart.

See the incredibly boring day that followed! )

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