Some time ago, I set myself the goal of posting at least monthly here, and have failed miserably this year in doing so. As there is no one I am accountable to for this, I offer no excuses – I have other priorities in my life, and have willingly set this aside. Still, this site has been getting a surprising amount of traffic in the past few months, so I wanted to offer a quick update on a few things, with the hope that over the remainder of the summer, I will be able to write a bit more regularly again.
Since my last update, I took the Outback out for some light off-roading on some nearby byways. The car coped well, soaking up bumps, and only calling on the all-wheel drive system in earnest once when I found myself in a rut rather deeper than it looked. Other than that, it was good fun wading through some mud and navigating some twisty and occasionally angular paths.
The Outback also flew through its MOT after changing the brakes and repairing a leaking exhaust gasket, which I eventually determined was the cause of my intermittent P0420 code. With the brakes, I ran into an interesting problem when I discovered that one of the caliper slide pins on the front had seized. I called on a friend who I knew would have a torch to heat it up, but he was away, so in a moment of ingenuity, I fired up my barbecue, and used the heat from the coals to work it loose. To my surprise, it worked like a charm; five minutes in the hot coals, and I was able to wiggle it out with a pair of pliers and reassemble the brakes.
Unfortunately, since then, Larry has taken a blow, as someone drove into him in a car park somewhere when my wife was out. The front bumper is now loose thanks to a couple of broken clips, as well as cracked and scratched up. I managed to polish out a bunch of the scuffing, but I will need to figure out how to remove and rehang the bumper with new clips, and attempt a more thorough cut and polish.
Speaking of scratched and scuffed, I have decided that I am going to keep the Leon and learn to do some bodywork. After thinking about selling it for a while, I have decided against it for the time being, and it boils down to two things. On the one hand, it runs great and has never let me down, and on the other, I don’t have time right now to deal with getting something else. What’s more, since it’s not worth very much at all, and could do with some bodywork, it seems like a good opportunity to work on my skills in this area a bit. There are some scratches on the bumpers, some lacquer peel in a few places, and a dent on the rear quarter. Silver is a bit more forgiving when it comes to paint repairs (at least, that’s my theory), so I see no reason why I shouldn’t give it a try. It certainly won’t end up looking any worse, and I will learn something in the process.
In terms of work done recently, aside from giving it a service and changing the gearbox oil, I have only had one small issue. For a while now, the rear has been making a bit of a creaking noise every now and then over bumps, particularly at low speeds. I determined the other week that it was one of the rear coil springs. A couple of years ago, the Leon failed its MOT on a broken spring, and it turns out the guy who replaced them put one in upside down, and did not seat it properly on the upper mount. Five minutes was all it took to turn it round and position it correctly, as you see below, and I haven’t heard another creak since.
Finally, I am off to Italy next week for a holiday. As we are travelling with my in-laws, my original plan was to buy a cheap 7-seater and road trip it there, but regrettably, a number of factors have prevented us from going that route. All I can hope now is that the hire car lottery turns up something good, because I have just this morning finished mapping out what promises to be a fun couple hours of driving round the area we’re staying. Road trips are being planned for next year already, though, so despite having to endure more flying this year, I at least have that to look forward to.