A display of failure

In the twenty years I have now been working on cars, I have achieved a good deal of success. Brake jobs, every bit of suspension, thermostats and water pumps, more intricate things like valve timing solenoids, and even cambelts – I have done them all and been able to make cars run and drive better. But automotive electrics remains one area I do not have a good working knowledge of, or much experience with, having only ventured into doing simple things, like repairing frayed wiring on a boot lid release.

Still, how are you going to learn if you don’t try? The radio display on my Subaru Outback has not worked since the day I bought the car. This has not bothered me, as I don’t use the radio, but instead use my phone to stream music through the Bluetooth setup the previous owner installed. But every now and then I get an itch to take stuff apart and tinker, and so I figured it was time to have a go at fixing the radio display.

Continue reading “A display of failure”

Advertisements

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.

sdr

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?

sdr

Continue reading “Replacing a rear wheel bearing on a BL/BP Subaru Outback”

Leaky Leon, episode 307

If you’ve followed either this blog or my Twitter account for any length of time, you will know that I have been dealing with ongoing water ingress issues with my SEAT Leon for almost as long as I’ve owned the car. This is a common problem on most, if not all, early Volkswagen PQ34 platform cars; the material they used to seal the places where water can get in was of a poor quality, and breaks down over time.

The first winter I had the car revealed the extent of the problem. All the door seals had broken down earlier in its life, and been repaired incorrectly by one of the previous owners. After several weeks of wet weather, I discovered literal puddles in the car, mostly in the passenger footwells. It took forever to get the interior dried out, and involved some tedious work to repair the door seals. The pollen filter housing seal had also perished, though that was a simple task to replace.

Continue reading “Leaky Leon, episode 307”

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.

sdr

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:

Continue reading “Replacing the front lower control arm on an E39”

One of the worst things that can happen to your car

The worst would be wrecking it, of course. But having dealt with a particularly trying malady over the past fourteen months, I would like to suggest that a wet interior ranks pretty high on the ‘stuff you never want to happen to your car’ list.

The autumn after buying my SEAT Leon, I noticed the passenger footwell was very wet. The problem was traced to perished seals, both on the pollen filter housing, and the doors. I made quick work of repairing the seals, but drying out the car is something I’ve been working at now off and on for nearly fourteen months, and has required disassembling significant portions of the interior.

IMG_20161114_143956099_HDR

Continue reading “One of the worst things that can happen to your car”

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”