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. Continue reading “A long overdue fleet update”
2002 SEAT Leon 20VT
For the first time ever in my two and a half years of owning the Leon, I calculated the fuel mileage. After a fairly even split of 200 miles of commuting and 200 miles of slightly exuberant recreational motoring, it came in at 33.5mpg. That was better than I expected, and means it would probably not take much effort to be knocking on 40mpg on a run. The only other thing of note this month was capturing a pleasing odometer reading.
You are happily humming along over England’s poorly surfaced roads in your Subaru Outback when you hit a section of freshly-laid tarmac. The road noise just about disappears, although you suddenly hear a faint whirring sound that seems to be coming from somewhere towards the rear of the vehicle. It varies with speed, and immediately your thoughts turn to the worse: Differential getting ready to blow itself apart? Gearbox going south?
What you see below is a car that has just passed its MOT with no advisories.
Back in July, I knew that wouldn’t be the case, however. The front strut mounts were worn quite badly, the cheap Chinese tyres I had used as a stop-gap were cracking on the sidewalls, and one of the inner CV gaiters was torn. It was also leaking a little coolant from somewhere, an ongoing problem that I have been trying to diagnose for quite a while now, and like I always do before an MOT, I intended to give it a service. So I got the Leon up on jackstands, and used all the available daylight hours to sort out these few issues. Continue reading “Fleet update, September 2018: The SEAT Leon”
Some time ago, when planning holidays for this year, my wife and I decided this was the year we would finally do the family road trip round Europe. We have lived in the United Kingdom for seven years now, and though we’ve visited a number of different places on the continent, we haven’t yet done a full-on road trip. So we marked out a route, picked some dates, and booked a few AirBnBs.
The next step, of course, was to decide on the car. The E39 has served admirably on a number of occasions for family trips, but as I have said far too many times, I’ve been itching for something different. Knowing we would be taking a few smaller trips with my in-laws when they arrived in the summer, I started hunting for a second-generation Volvo V70/XC70, a car that has been on my radar for a while, particularly because of its seven-seat option. However, a couple of months ago, with the search for a seven-seat V70 with the right engine coming to naught, I decided we would just stick with the E39. After all, it has proved its reliability time after time, it’s big and comfortable, and would do the job well.
That said, I knew the car would need a bit of work before it would be ready for a 2000-mile road trip. There were three essential jobs that needed to be done: new front struts, new tyres, and a new water pump. I also wanted to replace the rear differential bushes, rear anti-roll bar bushes, and address a few other minor things. Though the parts ended up totalling more than I had really wanted to put into this car, the work had to be done if it was going to ferry us round Europe safely and comfortably. Continue reading “Preparing the E39 for a 2000-mile road trip”
On most rear-wheel drive vehicles, a flex disc, sometimes called a giubo (which, you may be interested to know, is properly pronounced JOO-boh), is fitted where the gearbox and propshaft flanges meet. Flex discs are designed to help smooth out the transfer of torque between the gearbox and the rear wheels. You can see it in place on my E39 below, with the gearbox crossmember removed, which you need out of the way in order to access the flex disc.
The photo below shows the old flex disc from my car on the left, and the new one on the right. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you will know that I replaced this last March. So why am I doing it again now, and more importantly, why is the old one so distressed already? Continue reading “Flex disc woes”
Here I am pouring oil into the engine of my BMW.
I do this a lot. Well, not oil changes specifically, but maintenance on my cars. If you’re like me and prefer to buy inexpensive cars, learning to do your own maintenance and repairs is key. If you rely on your local garage to do everything, you soon find yourself spending quantities of money that come perilously close to what you paid for the car in the first place. As I’ve written over on Not2Grand: Continue reading “Why learning to maintain your car makes sense”
Next to your engine and gearbox, maintaining your suspension is one of the best things you can do for your car. The suspension is both what keeps you connected to the road, and what absorbs all the road’s imperfections, and in a bad state of repair, it will hurt your fuel economy, decrease the lifespan of your tyres, and adversely affect your car’s ride and handling, not to mention make your car less safe to operate.
Thankfully, rebuilding a suspension on many cars is not a terribly expensive or exceedingly difficult undertaking, and doing so can make a tired old car feel much newer again. It is also a job that can quite often be done an average DIY-er.