A little grease under the fingernails

I’ve had the new (to me) truck a week and a half now, and the maintenance work has already begun.

The goal? To replace everything that I can replace. Fix all that I can fix. Update all I can update. Within reason.

It’s a used vehicle. I don’t know how well it was maintained, the condition of the fluids, and so on. I can tell some, but not all. I want to put as much as I can into a known good state. Besides, with 95K miles already on it, if these things haven’t been done they sure need to be done if I want to keep this truck going for another 100-200K miles.

Now first, I must give some credit where it’s due. I owe much to foo.c for getting me going. I didn’t grow up under the hood of a car. Sure, since I turned 16 and got my drivers license I tinkered on what little non-intimidating things I could, and I paid attention to regular maintenance, but I paid someone else to do the work. Anything that required working on the engine I did not do, save replacing an alternator on an old minivan many years ago. Then some many years ago, foo.c showed me how to change my own oil. My reaction — “that’s it?”  I was surprised at how easy it was, and a little ashamed I hadn’t tried it sooner. Since then I’ve only paid for an oil change once, because that one time I didn’t have the time, wasn’t going to have the time, and the change was overdue.

Then I got my motorcycle some years ago, and tinkered heavily on that doing all the regular maintenance plus various modifications including exhaust, intake/carb mods, and even changing the cams. I was well over being afraid or intimidated of such things; in fact, I really liked it.

I’ve done my best to tackle jobs on the family cars, but I just can’t do it all. On the minivan, there’s not much I can do due to how they designed and assembled everything. Something that should be simple, like changing the alternator, is nothing I can tackle on my own due to the horrible location of the thing and the level of pain and tools/equipment involved to get to it. *sigh*  But I’ll do what I can.

Then I got the truck. I admit tho that the notion of maintaining the truck did intimidate me a bit, and once again foo.c helped me get a handle on things. I realize tho that it’s like most source of intimidation, it came from being unaware and ignorant of what’s involved — I just didn’t have any info to go on, what’s involved, how to do the work, etc.. After reviewing things he told me, the Chilton manual, and YouTube videos (gee but the Internet is great), most everything seems like a piece of cake. I’m just going to slowly whittle away at the to-do list trying to tackle one job per day/weekend (whenever I have time).

So far:

  • new wiper blades
  • new battery – existing battery was failing load test during the pre-purchase inspection, so this was bought shortly after I pulled off the dealer’s lot.
  • oil change – used Valvoline DuraBlend, and a Mobil 1 M-206 filter (foo.c tipped me off that while the M-107 is the proper filter, the M-206 fits and is just slightly longer to give more filter media).
  • new air filter — paper, I’ll change it every year.
  • new belts (serpentine and a/c)

From what I can tell so far, I do think the truck was maintained by the prior owners. One funny example? When I took off the front skid plate to replace the a/c belt, there was a crumpled up piece of paper in there. It was a receipt from an oil change at a shop. Not sure how it got there, but there it was… a little bit of confirmed history for the truck. 🙂

That said, it was interesting the serpentine belt looked fairly new, but the a/c belt was old and cracked. I’m not sure why they replaced the one belt and not the other since you have to remove the serpentine to get to the a/c belt anyways. The serpentine didn’t really need changing, but I figured there was no harm in changing it while I was at it.

Next up is stuff like changing the front and rear differential oil and the transfer case oil. Doesn’t look hard, just a matter of doing the work. I’ll be most curious to see the condition of those oils, to see if they were ever changed. Spark plugs will be done, but looking at the engine and placement of the plugs I don’t wanna… tho foo.c tells me only a couple are a bitch to deal with. I’ll probably get foo.c to help me with the brakes… they don’t need it, but I figure why not, replace that fluid and put new pads on everything.

I do think I will pay someone for a couple of things. Transmission fluid and filter I may get someone else to do, or foo.c to help me. I’ll also probably have the coolant drain/flush done by someone else because I just don’t have the ability to safely handle that much fluid.

The best part? Daughter is helping me with everything. For whatever reason she’s taken an interest in learning about it all, how everything works, how to do all of this work. Certainly some things I have to do because she’s just not strong enough, but I’m letting her do all that she can and teaching her what I can. We’re learning together on this and having a lot of fun. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll take what I can. 🙂


2 thoughts on “A little grease under the fingernails

  1. I love working on my vehicles! I’ve found, especially with those of us who work in ‘virtual worlds’ so much, there’s a tremendous satisfaction with completing a job involving physical labour and an end result you can touch (or drive).

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