How to get your alternator running smoothly and silently

Alternators can be scary things. They play a crucial role in keeping your car going, and if they fail, can leave you stranded. More, as complex and intricate electrical units, they are not the sort of thing many would rush to disassemble should something need to be repaired. So why did I have mine open on the kitchen table the other night?

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Give your pulleys a new lease on life

The belt that drives the accessories on the front of your engine is routed around a number of pulleys. Some of these are attached to things like the alternator and power steering pump, and there is also a pulley on the belt tensioner. You may find that your car has a separate pulley, called the idler pulley, that solely functions to route the belt a particular way.

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Liquid matters

Not counting the fuel in your tank, your car will have at least twenty litres of different fluids in it. Those fluids all perform crucial functions, and you need to keep a close watch on them if you are going to enjoy motoring adventures that do not end in some kind of catastrophic fashion.

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Over at Not £2 Grand (which you ought to follow on Twitter and Facebook, by the way), I have a new post telling you a little bit about all these different fluids and helping you think about how to keep them healthy. Head on over and have a read, because ‘ultimately, your vehicle’s fluids are vital to its life, and there are few more important things you can do for your car than to keep them all clean and topped up’. You can find the full post here.

How to clean dirt and moss from your door seals

If you follow me on Twitter or have seen previous posts on this blog, you will know that for about as long as I’ve owned my SEAT Leon, I have had issues with moisture getting inside the car. For the most part, I have now solved that, by addressing the main problem areas. The one thing I haven’t yet done is to clean the rubber door seals. Dirt and moss will often accumulate on, around, and inside of these seals, reducing their effectiveness.

Parking your car outside in Britain means it is frequently going to get wet, and when it routinely sits it in a place with little sun, as mine does when it is parked on the drive of a more north-facing house, that moisture does not dry up, feeding the growth of moss. If I’m honest, the problem is compounded by the fact that I don’t wash the Leon enough.

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A long overdue fleet update

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”

Fleet update, January 2019

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.

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Replacing a rear wheel bearing on a BL/BP Subaru Outback

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?

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Fleet update, September 2018: The SEAT Leon

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”

Preparing the E39 for a 2000-mile road trip

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”

Flex disc woes

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.

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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”