Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Doing it yourself



My car needed a new radiator as the old one was leaking.
As a new radiator costs about US$310 + shipping, I figured, hey, why not let the mechanic do it for me since his offer seemed reasonable (i.e. US$410 including original parts + new themostat and gasket and labor)? That way, I didn't have to worry about the UPS goon tossing my new radiator over the fence, and spare myself from looking like a refugee with dirt under his fingernails.

Wrong.

2 miles after collecting the car, a geyser of steam began sprewing from under the hood. For a moment there, I thought my car was on fire. The temperature gauge was pegged at "H." Then I smelled the sweet sickening odor of coolant. When I managed to pull over into a parking lot and pop the hood, the source of the problem became immediately apparent. The mechanic(s) reused the old hoses and also did not position the clamps properly over the indentations made by the said clamps, thereby allowing pressure to leak and coolant to boil over. The upper radiator hose was sprewing coolant in quantities that would make a Japanese porn star blanch.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

So, my housemate and I went to the nearby Walmart (*sob!* Walmart parts in MY car!) to get some worm-drive hose clamps to replace the stock spring-loaded ones. And, lo and behold! Walmart has 50/50 pre-mixed coolant too! They even have McDonalds and a pharmacy in there. Now all they need is a wedding chapel, wedding dresses, a funeral parlor, and they will be all set: Life and Death: Walmart style.

Anyways, so there I was, ghetto-fixing my car in a parking lot--with Walmart parts. Oh, the humanity.

Somewhere along the way to dinner, my housemate lost me. And then, like some bad B-grade movie (or SBC/TCS/MediaCorp feature), the same crap happened again. I see steam, smell coolant, and the temperature gauge creeps up again. I pull over in the next parking lot, popped the hood, and this time, it's the lower coolant hose that has decided to do a number on me. Oh joy.

To cut a long story short, long arms, desperation, equal measures of cajoles, threats and curses (those who work on machines will know what I am talking about), 1.5 gallons of coolant, and lots of dirt under my fingernails, managed to rectify the problem (however temporarily)--though I had to lie on the asphalt in my street clothes, somehow clenching a flashlight between my teeth, holding the spring-loaded clamp open with a pair of wide-mouth pliers in one hand, whilst shoving the radiator hose against the fitting with the other. Yoga? Who needs yoga? Rodney Yee can kiss my ass.

Tomorrow, I'm going to order new coolant hoses from Toyota. If the engine-side of the lower radiator hose can accommodate a worm-driven hose clamp, I would go that route as well.

If there is one thing I learned from this rather interesting day, it is never to pay anyone to do something you can do it yourself. Why would anybody change out a radiator without changing the hoses is beyond me. That is like changing a clutch and not changing the rear main oil seal and pilot bearing, or changing a front main oil seal and not changing the timing belt. WTF? It's cheap insurance.

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