More grease

Fortunately today was a slow day at work, so I put the time to good use and did a little more work on the truck.

Today was gear lubes. Changing the front differential gear oil, the rear differential gear oil, and the transfer case. I’ve never changed these things in my life. Well, on my motorcycle I sorta did — the V*Star 1100′ is a shaft-drive, so I did change the gear oil on the final drive there. And essentially these were no different, other than being a lot harder to get to. 😉

The rear diff was difficult just because it was cramped and difficult to get my arms in the right places. The oil stunk pretty bad too. I’m not sure it was ever changed because the magnet had a huge cake of shavings on it. This was time consuming as well because of the need to scrape off the old gasket. Wasn’t hard, just time consuming. I’m thankful tho I still had some gasket sealant left over from the motorcycle days; came in handy for putting on the new gasket. Put almost 3 quarts of Mobil 1 75W-90 in it.

The front diff was pretty easy, since it was just removing the skid plate, then simply removing the fill bolt and drain bolt. Use about 2 quarts of Valvoline DuraBlend 80w-90 here.

The transfer case was a bit of a pain, but only because AutoZone had only one pump, made for gallon jugs. So Daughter and I had to do some jury rigging to get the pump working right. We did like that the GM AutoTrak II fluid is Smurf-blue. 🙂

Ran her through all the gears and all the drives. Went around the neighborhood. All seemed OK. I’m a little nervous that I did everything right, that I got the proper amounts of fluid in everything. I think that’s just because it’s a first time doing it and you always get a little nervous about your first time performance. 😉  We’ll see if there are any puddles under the truck in the morning and how things hold up in the days to come.

I am going to let someone else change the transmission fluid and filter, and the coolant. It’s a matter of 1. the hassle, 2. the amount of liquid and being able to properly handle and dispose of it. Maybe I can do that next week. There’s only a few things left to do, and who knows… if the shop will do them for a reasonable price I may just have them do it and be done with it. I don’t mind doing it all myself, but it’s coming down to a time/hassle factor.

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. 🙂


Finally, I’m a Texan

I bought my first truck.

Wife says this finally makes me a Texan (she’s a native, I’m a transplant). My father-in-law says no, it doesn’t make me a Texan, it makes me a redneck Texan. 🙂

I purchased my now-former car brand new 17 years ago. I credit it lasting so long to the fact I don’t have to drive it as a daily commuter, but it did see enough miles in a year. I wanted to drive it until it couldn’t drive any more. A few years ago the engine starting having problems. I did a few things to help it limp along, but evidently it was on the way out. It’s now at a point where the repairs cost more than I’m willing to spend, so it came time to look for a replacement.

I spent a lot of time (many months, on and off) trying to decide what I needed. Most of my driving is people-hauling, be it me going somewhere or me taking Kiddos somewhere. Thus I wanted something that could comfortably seat everyone and not be horrible on my wallet (MPG). But the way my life is going, all-wheel/4WD drive would be mighty useful. And most of all, some way to haul things that were dirty. For example, after hunting, being able to haul a deer or hog out of a muddy pasture. So all signs were pointing to a truck. Because of the “people hauling” aspect I started to look at smaller trucks, like Toyota Tacoma’s or Nissan Frontier’s (I like the Tacoma styling, but the Frontier seems to have the edge in terms of performance and abilities so I leaned towards it). But in the end, they were just too small. I’m tired of being a big guy stuck in a small car. Plus with the Kiddos growing, smaller solutions no longer work. I tried getting into an extended cab but no go; crew cab was the only option. Plus I figured for the future, a full-sized truck could give me options like renting a travel trailer for a fun weekend getaway.

So truck it is.

It needed to be reliable, able to last a long time (with good maintenance of course), haul people, handle my other life needs (e.g. hunting). I started by looking at new trucks but the cost just turned me off. Sure that Ford EcoBoost engine seems mighty awesome, but the cost of a new Ford F-150 with a crew cab and 4×4? Just way out of my budget. It’s hard for me to justify such an expense, and I refuse to go into debt for this. I hate buying used because  you never can truly know the history and what you’re getting. But I figured if I priced it low enough and did enough research and investigation, I could get something that hopefully would be “good enough” and last “long enough” to at least make all the money factors work out.

In the end I settled on a 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab, 4×4, 5.3L V8 I found at an independent dealer (and I’ve been looking for some months). foo.c has owned and worked on Chevy’s much of his life and said, based upon the listing, the truck looked like a creampuff and could be alright. I checked the CarFax, I got a pre-purchase inspection through Auto P.I.. The truck didn’t check out perfectly: some cosmetics, a tiny leak in a transmission line, A/C belt should be replaced before summer gets here, battery load test was weak, front left tire was losing air (I believe I found a nail in the tread), and the normal wear and tear on a truck of that age and miles. The “things that mattered” all checked out well, inspector said it looked like the truck had been well-maintained over the years. None of the problems bothered me too much, and I took them into account when making my offer. They accepted. I have no idea who got the better end of the deal, the dealer or myself, but based upon all that I saw, the True Market Value®, and other factors, I do think I got a good deal. Plus, I think I’ve got a vehicle that suits my needs. If not, I chalk it up to being my first truck and I’ll learn from the experience.

I’ve already replaced the battery and windshield wipers. I think I’ll get the front 2 tires replaced later this week (rotate the old rear to the front, put the new on the rear). I’ve got a deal with foo.c and will be heading up to his place one Saturday soon and together we’ll replace all the fluids, filters, plugs and wires, if we can handle the leak and A/C belt then great, and whatever else we can. I picked up both the Haynes and Chilton manuals.

Oh and yes… the kids are  excited about the truck — we had to go to dinner at Sonic the evening I brought it home. 🙂

And the first time I chomped down on the gas, the throttle opened, and tons of gasoline was injected into that engine to hurtle me down the road? I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I realized I now had my very own Chevy EarthFucker™ 🙂 Now I just need to do like a buddy of mine and get a “Hybrid” badge. Heh heh. 🙂

Gee… now I can’t wait to go hunting.

I think my father-in-law is right. I’ve become a redneck Texan. My mother is shaking her head and sighing. 🙂