30 April 2009

Stage Two

The next part of our journey took us from Green Cove Springs, where the hospital is, to Jacksonville to the eldest daughter's house. We were planning on only staying a day or so and continuing up the coast, stopping off to see the wife's aunt in uncle in south Georgia, but we have been extended due to automobile issues. Nothing serious, in fact it's kind of good news.

My daughter had a Taurus that was having overheating problems and she was finally told the head gaskets were blown. She didn't have the money to fix it, she had another car, so she gave the car to me. The plan was to borrow a truck to tow it back to NC with and fix it there. Today I took a real good look at it.

The overheating problem was caused by the plastic expansion tank being cracked, the crack would open under pressure and vent all the water out and the car would overheat. The last time it happened the daughter shut the car off and had it towed to my son-in-law's job, where he took it to the mechanic who told them the engine was damaged.

I checked the engine oil, and there was no milk in it, which indicates the engine doesn't have any problems after all. I found another expansion tank at the junkyard for five bucks, the only one that was there out of about a dozen cars, so I'm thinking this is a common problem.

I would have put it in already, but on the way home from the junkyard the Pontiac started heating up. It turns out the radiator fan went bad on me, so I had to replace that before I went any farther. Thankfully it wasn't a difficult or costly fix.

Tomorrow I will put the expansion tank in, fill the radiator, start the car and let it idle for a half-hour or so and see if it overheats again. After that I will check the oil problem again. If there aren't any problems I will have about fifteen dollars in the car, five for the expansion tank and ten for the coolant.

I'm guessing that the car will idle fine in the hot Florida sun for a half hour with the AC on without overheating, I will see no bubbles in the expansion tank after I top off the coolant, the car will not blow white smoke from the tailpipes (both daughter and SIL tell me the car never did smoke), and afterwards the oil will be water-free.

If that is the case, I will feel bad for taking the car, and in fact I have already told them they can have it back if it's OK, but they will not hear of it. So if it checks out I'll get the plates for it just before we come back down to bring the wife back to stay with Pop after her treatments and I'll drive it back up north.

It will be a good replacement for the Pontiac which is showing it's age. The wife wants to keep the Pontiac for her every day car and save the Taurus for road trips since it's bigger (we have been taking the Aries station wagon for that purpose, but it has a broken air conditioner).

It will need a battery (because the one that was in it is now in the daughter's other car) and a full set of tires to pass inspection, but otherwise it's in good shape all around. I have a handful of cosmetic things to fix in the interior, one small dent near the gas fill door, and it needs hubcaps. I'm thinking trim rings and moon caps since it's a white car, that way I can watch the other drivers on the road freak out at me when they think it's an unmarked police car.

Of course that gives me a total of five cars after the old pickup gets put back together (including the one that my youngest daughter is driving). Funny thing is, they all have their niches. The Rampage is my daily driver, the Aries is my camping and fishing car (that's the one the youngest daughter is driving), the Pontiac is my wife's car, and the old truck has earned it's keep even if it never moves another inch. The Taurus will be the spare vehicle/family outing car.

Since the Rampage can fill the camping and fishing role (as long as it's just Christopher and me), and since the youngest daughter has driven the Aries fifteen of the eighteen months I have owned it, I might as well just sign the damn thing over to her. She can sell her Topaz since it has just been sitting all this time (it needs a tire to pass inspection, but why bother when she's driving Dad's car?).

So that's it for the saga of Things With Wheels...until next time. And my "next car" was a Ford this time, so the Big Three will be represented in my driveway (two Dodges, a Pontiac and a Chevrolet from GM, and a Taurus from Ford). I wonder if I will ever own a new car? Maybe someone will take all my old ones for a trade-in.

In real news Arlen Sphincter has finally come out of the closet. It's about time.


none said...

Glad it wasn't serious.

A mechanic told my aunt the same thing about her car last month.

Similar problem

Damn crooks.

Larry said...

Unfortunately the mechanic was right and I was wrong.