<The oil was nice and cool, and it ran out of the engine fine. It's
only 5W30, and it runs like water even cold.
On the other hand, the exhaust manifold was hot already, and I STILL
burned the shit out of my hand, and dumped the filter full of oil on
the ground trying to juggle it out of the nest of exhaust pipes.>
I have a 12" oscillating fan mounted on an old photographic light stand that
I use to keep cool when working on cars (well, when I *used* to!). I used
that, aimed at the heat shield on my Honda and after five minutes of
directed ventilation it cooled enough to avoid BTSOOYH. You can probably
just position a desk fan in the compartment to do the same.
Whenever I skipped that crucial step, even in winter, I was almost certain
to burn myself, spill oil on the hot piping or both. Most of the time it
was both. That shield gets red hot very, very quickly but fortunately cools
down quickly as well. Now I'd use an IR beam thermometer to make sure it
had cooled down enough.
The problem with manifold burns is that your hand jerks away reflexively
from the first burn site only to hit another hot pipe and maybe even a third
before you get your hand out clean. BT,DT. I call it a "pinball" burn.
If I were still doing my own brakes, oil etc. I would now spring for one of
those portable, personal A/Cs they use to cool down movie stars. But alas,
arthritis has beaten me down and twisting wrenches is a little too much.
Unfortunately, it's sometimes just as painful, mentally, to watch some moron
at Gippy Lube cross threads on a drain plug, use the wrong filter, forget
the aluminum washer, etc. but there's not much choice. I've seriously
thought of rigging a small video cam in the hood lid like 20-20 does when
they are out to catch Turnpike Repair Ripoffs.
I did, however, just buy a diagnostic code reader on Ebay for $25. Although
I won't do any of the work myself I think it's a great idea to know why the
MIL (multipurpose indicator lamp) is lit before I take it in for service.
(Actually, I think it's the locking gas cap I put on that's triggering the
Check Engine light . . .)
Unfortunately, for power train warranty purposes, a lot of
dealers/manufacturers word their warranties so that you almost always have
to take it to a dealer at some point to avoid having a warranty fight if
there's a serious problem.
It's a catch-22. If you know nothing about cars, you always have a nagging
suspicion that you're often getting sub-par and unnecessary work at
over-inflated rates. After you've done your own repairs for 40 years
(starting as "tool fetcher and lamp holder" for my Dad) then you KNOW you're
getting ripped off!
My two favorites? The black female mechanic at Sears who stripped the lug
bolts off my car's front wheels by "tightening" them until they broke. She
and the service manager had the audacity to come over and say "all your lug
bolts are stripped out in the front" and tried to charge me for them. The
bolts were still almost too hot to hold and the wrench was still set to
tighten and I got a 15% discount on the tires I was buying for pointing that
out to the manager. I should have pushed them for a bigger cut, in
retrospect because when I got home I began to wonder how many replacement
bolts they sold in an average day. They HAD to know, or at least the
service manager did. I doubt their mechanic even knew what day it was.
The second auto repair incident was a small shop that normally was great but
called me up to insist it would cost $100 to remover the bumper on my '90
Prelude to change the fog lamp bulb. The worst part was how HARD they
argued with me that they were right. I faxed them the page from the shop
manual that showed how to do it (it wasn't hard, I had done it before
myself) and never went back there. I might expect having to pull a bumper
to replace a Triumph or Jaguar fog lamp, but by the '90s the Japanese had
pretty much eliminated that sort of idiot maintenance BS.
I didn't mind them making a mistake as much as I minded them telling me
*repeatedly* I was wrong with incredible determination. And not just the
mechanic, but the service manager, too. It obviously meant I couldn't trust
their estimating and problem analysis skills anymore so I moved on.
I like smaller shops, but they are sometimes have very limited access to
good, detailed technical information for each car. Worse, still, nowadays
they big car maker designs are "locking out" the small shops that can't
possibly afford all the diagnostic and special tools required to service
The one thing good about dealers is that they know all the damn tricks about
how to remove something (especially interior trim pieces) without breaking
off the tiny plastic tabs that hold so much stuff in place on modern cars.
Even when a dealer knows the magic buttons, sometimes failures are just bad
design or poor material choices. I replaced three A/C control knobs on my
old '80 Prelude before I realized they were all made at about the same time
and the plastic holding the knob together had become very brittle on all of
them. Finally replaced it with a far less attractive but much more
functional salvaged Radio Shack stereo knob that happened to fit and didn't
rely on two tiny pieces of brittle plastic to hold it on the shaft. Looked
funky but did the job and didn't cost anything (compared to the outrageous
prices Honda charged for their "pre-failed" knobs).