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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fuel System Treatment

I've settled on a 4500 mile interval for using fuel system cleaner and have scheduled it to coincide with the oil service so I put a bottle of Techron in the tank this week. I have noticed hard cold starts in the morning while using fuel with the Techron additive. Nothing much I can do about that aside from not using it, but I do believe fuel system cleaners serve an important role given that the detergency of gasoline has been reduced to the bare minimum levels required by law in an effort to add a few more billion in profit to the oil companys' bottom line.

Oil Service

The service indicator illuminated more or less on schedule this week so I dropped by the dealer today to pick up some 5W-30 and an oil filter kit in order to complete the oil service. I made quick work of the oil service and grounded pin 7 of the diagnostic connector for three seconds as required to clear the service indicator. While I was at it, I collected another oil sample and plan to send that out soon. I don't expect any change from the last report but I'll post the results here if there's something worth reporting.


I decided to use the opportunity afforded by the oil service to do a close inspection of the undercarriage. With my trusty (and extremely bright) 3 watt LED D-cell based mag light I got under the car and started my inspection.

Fortunately, a good look at the front suspension revealed little to complain about:

The rear of the car looked equally good. I paid extra attention to the rear suspension because I've been trying to track down an odd feeling the car has developed at speeds of 70 MPH or more that I can best describe as similar to the feeling experienced when the car buffets in strong crosswinds. The problem is only intermittent. I initially thought it might have been due to tires or play in the front suspension but the characteristics of the problem suggest it may, in fact, be caused by worn trailing arm bushings, which are still original. If these bushings flex too much it causes the rear alignment (toe, specifically) to change which can cause the rear to swing a bit. This can give the appearance of hysteresis or slop in the steering when there is in fact none at all. This is all very subtle, mind you, so most people would never notice it but, at usual, I do.

One other item I've been watching is the transmission. I now have about 40K miles on the remanufactured transmission and I think it's in need of an oil and filter change. I know a shop that has the fittings necessary to flush the transmission by disconnecting the transmission cooler so I plan to use that technique to replace all the fluid at once rather than dropping the pans several times. This will get at the oil that would otherwise remain in the torque converter and obviate the need to pull the smaller of the two pans when I change the filter. Now all I have to do is find the time to do that.

Record Keeping Note

For the purposes of documenting labor savings I figured I'd "charge" myself roughly an hour to do this inspection. I think that's more than fair because the dealer would charge a hell of a lot more than $100 to conduct either Inspection I or II, and I wouldn't expect an indy technician to do the job for free either. Hence the labor savings of roughly two hours or $220.

Mileage: 164850, Parts $65, Labor saved $220