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.

Changing the sidelights on a BL/BP Subaru Outback

A blown sidelight is something that might escape notice, particularly if these lights are not very prominent to begin with. That is why I didn’t realise the offside sidelight was out on my Outback until I spotted it as my wife pulled into the driveway last week.

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Having followed the saga of fellow Subaru owner, Lewis Kingston, changing the sidelights on his Forester last month, I was not looking forward to discovering what would be required to swap them on the Outback. Surprisingly, it took very little effort and all of ten minutes. Continue reading “Changing the sidelights on a BL/BP Subaru Outback”

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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A DIY thread chaser hack

In a slightly unexpected development, I have a new car. Several weeks ago, I stumbled across this Subaru Outback on eBay, and the following Saturday, went to collect it. More on that later, however.

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The car has needed a little bit of work, chief of which was replacing the inner CV joint gaiters. Again, more on that later, but for the time being, it is sufficient to note that this job basically involved taking the whole front end apart. In the process of doing so, one of the control arm mounting studs undid itself from the subframe mounting point (pictured below), due to a seized nut. While not a big problem in an of itself, in the process of coming out, it got slightly twisted and ended up damaging the threads inside the hole. Continue reading “A DIY thread chaser hack”

Replacing the front lower control arm on an E39

About six weeks ago, we returned from a trouble-free 2200-mile road trip around Europe. Nothing went wrong, nothing broke, nothing happened that should not have happened. However, not 300 miles later, I found myself with this:

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How to cripple your engine in one simple step

Vacuum leaks can be notoriously difficult to diagnose, as they can range from small cracks in a hose or intake pipe, to a clogged crankcase vent system, to an improperly sealed oil filler cap. This is largely the reason I have ignored my E39’s minor leak, because diagnosing it would mean removing the whole air intake system to check everything over. Plus, barring an occasional stumble at idle, the car seemed to run fine. However, last week, when it started tripping the check engine light and logging fuel trim codes, I decided it was time to sort it out. Continue reading “How to cripple your engine in one simple step”