Sunday, November 1, 2009
Winter Tires and Brake Fluid Flush
With high temperatures solidly in the upper 50's I figured it was time to install the winter tires I purchased earlier. While I could have jacked up each axle independently to swap tires I decided to jack up all four corners and conduct my second DIY brake fluid flush while the wheels were off.
The old brake fluid was somewhat lighter than the last time but this was expected given only 18 months had passed since the last flush. The lighter color of the fluid made the transition from old to new fluid more difficult to see in my clear bleeder hose but I compensated by flushing a little longer.. I paid particular attention to the rear wheels because they are farthest from the reservoir and hold a majority of the fluid in the system. When all was said and done I managed to use the vast majority of the 1 liter can of ATE TYP 200, one of several I bought a couple years back to save on shipping costs.
I also took the time to secure the master cylinder reservoir with some ty-wraps just to make sure that didn't pop out during the pressure bleed. I had some 10" tywraps on hand but those weren't long enough so I used two to achieve the required length. The end result was a lot less stress about that potentially messy and damaging failure mode.
As for the cost analysis, I paid $10 for the can of TYP 200 gold and used about $10 worth of miscellaneous parts and fluids (brake cleaner, etc.). Paying someone to mount the tires would have cost about a half hour of labor (at least) or $65 at the dealer with tax. Not surprisingly, the dealer now charges $200 with tax (up from $170) for a brake fluid flush. This brings the total labor savings to $265. Not a bad DIY dividend for three hours of my day.
On the Horizon
- Suspension overhaul: Control arms, tie-rods, struts, shocks, bushings and balljoints. The problem is, done correctly, this is a lot of work and I'm not inclined to take the car out of service for several weeks while I work on it over the weekends. The plan will likely be to take several days of "vacation" and bang the work out in a week-long binge. Unfortunately, even with discounts reaching 35-40%, the parts list I'm building is at $1100 and climbing so this will be a significant hit to the wallet when I eventually pull the trigger.
- Power Steering Pump: The pump has been making very high pitched metallic whining noises (not the low-fluid growl, by the way) the last couple of winters when the car is cold soaked in the morning. The last few months it's started making more of the classic power steering "turbine" style noises that vary with RPM and steering effort. I've taken the hint that the pump is getting long in the tooth and plan to replace it simply because failure of the pump would likely take out the rack. While the pump is about $350 + core I consider that cheap insurance. I had planned to do a power steering fluid flush today but ran out of time. I'm now planning to do it when I replace the pump, hopefully sometime in the next few months.
- Alternator: Alternators & regulators don't last forever and when they fail they can either go quietly or do major damage. While talking to a friend who has gone through his share of alternators (even Bosch units), I told him in casual conversation that my alternator was original with almost 185K miles on it. His response? "You kidding? Better replace that thing soon...it's a ticking time bomb...not a question of if but when." The alternator is around $400 + core. Are we having fun yet?
I expect to tackle this stuff beginning in the new year unless, of course, the car has it's own ideas.
Mileage: 184265, Parts: $20, Labor Saved: $265