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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Resurrection #2

The Boy finally got his car working. It wasn’t long before he “found” a job and a place to live near his girlfriend’s place in Newnan. But the fun part was all the stuff that happened along the way.

I believe I mentioned, shortly after he left Wisconsin and was re-admitted to the free-range insane asylum, that his car croaked. Compression was gone, and he immediately decided he needed a new engine. I suggested he do a compression test, because he might only need a top-end rebuild (and like his in-laws, he ignores any data that doesn’t support his snap decision.) Then he decided he wanted a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) engine, because they supposedly make more horsepower than the US version.

The Boy didn't see this. ;-)
I was skeptical, and so was his friend (the one who bought our green Civic and got it going). But, as I said above, facts don't stand a chance against the snap decision. They hauled the Acura into the #4 chicken house, and The Boy got a Haynes manual—which was horrible for this situation; the manual kept jumping around and skipping steps. But eventually, they got to where they were able to get the tractor bucket chained to the motor and pulled it out.

So, the new one came in. The usual hilarity ensued with getting everything to line up, moving this and that around, and hooking all the wires back up. So he had me down there one chilly Saturday morning. “How do you check the spark?”

I was rather shocked, that someone who thought he could replace an entire engine wouldn’t know how to hold a spark plug against the engine block, but I explained it. He had me crank the engine while he held the plug. No spark. “OK,” I said, “check your distributor, plug wires, and ignition coil.” I checked the fuse block. Easy stuff first, that’s the first rule of troubleshooting and a rule that doesn’t seem to stick with a certain person who prides herself on common sense… but I digress. Anyway, The Boy did some Googling and found that a JDM engine requires a matching ECU (the domestic one doesn’t work for whatever reason). So off to eBay once again, ECU arrives, he installs it, still no spark.

So the friend finally gets back over there, and he begins the methodical kind of approach I can relate to. He swapped in the ignition coil from his Civic, and hey presto, spark! Yes, I razzed The Boy about that on several occasions. Spark, but no vroom. There should have been an earth-shattering vroom. I thought the engine was making that whine that suggests it jumped time, and he decided (as I’d advised him far earlier) to check the timing belt. Turned out it had more teeth missing than a hockey player. With a new timing belt, it finally ran! So they got the car put back together and The Boy got it insured and plated.

Then the fun began. Why he didn’t think about doing this stuff while the new engine was sitting outside the car, I’ll never know. But he figured the first thing to do was change the oil. That’s when he found that a sumo wrestler must have put that oil filter on. It took several days of various things to finally get that sucker loose—he rammed a screwdriver through the filter to get leverage, the old-skool way of removing an oil filter, to no avail. He finally smooshed the end down enough to get a pair of big channel-lock pliers on it, and that did the trick.

Then as he put the oil in, he found that there was a hole in the oil pan. That was a fairly easy fix, as he had the oil pan from his old engine handy. But it was still pretty hilarious, even if by this time he’d taken my garage space and had my Miata out in the rain. I suspect that his shiny new motor was pulled from a wreck. Fun times.

Finally, he found that he’d bodged an axle seal, so his manual transmission fluid was leaking. But that was also a relatively easy fix. Once he was able to get the car back up on jackstands.

Onward and upward… until the next thing happens. I think The Boy’s friend is going to locate us a replacement engine for my old Civic. That should be less of a hassle than the Acura, since we’re not doing the JDM thing. But the Miata has working air conditioning, so I'd probably just sell the Civic once we got it running again.


  1. "There should have been an earth-shattering vroom."

    Best line about car repairs ever.

  2. LOL sounds like fun and games to me - car repairs eh!

  3. Wow, the vast majority of your post was Greek to me. Me + car repair = not a good mix. :)

  4. Good thing he had a pop like you around, sir! I couldn't run half these diagnostics.

  5. Thanks, Katherine. He didn't have the exhaust hooked up, so it would have been unfiltered engine... but when I typed that first "vroom," I couldn't resist the pun.

    Helen, it's always fun when it's someone else's car!

    Maria, that was a pretty major one. I can do basic stuff myself. I don't have the patience (or time) to tackle big stuff.

    John, he pretty much blew me off all the way down the line. Which made the "I told you so" part that much sweeter. ;-)

  6. Ah, father-son bonding. It's a scary thing. :D

  7. Sounds like fun times at Far Manor. Glad it's back together.


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