They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Adventures In Car Repair

An Interesting Day or This Couldn't Last, Could It

So two weeks ago I noted that my 1996 T-10 Blazer -- the Teal Machine -- passed through the 300,000 mile mark (DW). At full speed, purring along at 70 mph.

Fast forward to last week, just before Spring Break. What with weeks of icy, slushy roads, long commutes and tight deadlines, purring along just fine. Oh, there are things wrong with a 17 year old machine, but nothing life threatening to either man or machine.

Of course, in the last week I had the turn signals stop working. I could manually make the rear blinkers blink by flicking the turn signal stalk, and the four-way flashers worked, but not the regular turn signals. Of course I've replaced flashers on vehicles before. But unlike the 1979 Suburban, the flasher mechanism isn't in the fusebox on the 1996. Huh. Can't even test this.

And then I noticed that in some settings on the HVAC controls -- heat but not defroster -- that I could hear a slight hiss. Hmmm, sounds like a vacuum leak somewhere. Hose maybe? Could it be that cheap? And Thursday on the way home the serpentine belt was being noisy. Back in the fall I had an idler pulley fail which threw the belt and left me being towed home in a rainstorm. So I've been a little sensitive in case that incident weakened the belt.

And recently I had an oil change, but I don't recall if they checked the automatic transmission fluid level. Given how thin the fluid is warm, it's a pain in the ass to measure. So when I wrote up a sheet for some work to be done during this Spring Break week, I included all these things. Sunday we ran the Blazer over to Chevy. And I noted that the Blazer seemed reluctant to go into Reverse.

So I called this morning to see what was what. And the mechanic reported that he had to practically floor the pedal to get the Blazer to back out of its parking space overnight.

Yeah. They're suggesting a GM Certified rebuilt transmission.

And it's the turn signal stalk that's bad. And yeah, the belt needs replacing. And the HVAC control switch.

Estimate: $4144.

Time to talk to my used car guy. He's got a 2002 Blazer, it's 4WD but it's a 2-door. 137,000 miles. It was listed on their website and there was a clean CARFAX result. We wandered up to Chevy to look at it. Transmission or new-to-me used vehicle? It's a toss up. Also talked to the service people about giving the 1996 a look over, is there anything else that needs to be done. Or another deal breaker.

The 2002 Blazer had some problems, including broken off seat adjustment levers. Given my size, that's not good. Also, it had a lot more rust than the six year older Blazer I already have. Nope. There's also a 2002 4WD Tahoe with 191,000 miles. That we gave a test drive. It actually was very nice, absolutely smooth. It'd be a lovely vehicle to drive on the road. But... it's a little tall for my bad leg right now. And the price was steeper than I wanted on short notice, and nearly 200,000 miles is a lot. Another time perhaps. I loved the Suburban and would be happy to have another 'Burban or a Tahoe sometime.

The look over showed three things that I already knew. The main engine oil seal, that would be easy to do with the engine already pulled for the tranny swap. And the idler arm repair? Why that'd keep me on the road longer. (grin)

In the end I asked if we could add those two things together and settle on a flat price, less than the grand total. Turned out, they could. This is what happens when you're a good customer. (grin)

We can rebuild it. Make it whole. Make it better. Make it go 70 mph. Okay, so unlike Steven Austin, a 1996 Blazer is supposed to be able to go 70 mph. At the end of the week, though, it should be able to do it for longer.

Serendipity it is -- don't like that these things occur, but I can't fault the timing. Or really, the expense.

Dr. Phil
Tags: maintenance, vehicles

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