Showing posts from April, 2014

How to index spark plugs.

So yesterday the indexing washers came for the Metro. As with almost everything in this car, I expected to find near original equipment condition plugs in need of replacement. Oddly, it was the one thing that had been replaced. The plugs were dated 2006, and were Bosche. I've never heard good things about Bosche spark plugs, and as I was pulling them I marked their alignment with a Sharpie. Every one of them was aligned with the electrode shielding the valve. One thing I can say for the plugs, is they were manufactured uniformly. In essence, these spark plugs were "aimed" towards the wall of the head, rather than the fuel mixture. Exactly what indexing is meant to prevent.

What is indexing? Well it's just that, aiming the open end of the spark plug away from the walls of the combustion chamber and towards the center of the valves. Some engines produce significantly more power by indexing, some don't. It only costs a few washers, and a couple extra minutes, so the…

Cutting Coils to Lower Cars

Everyday I pull into school, and much like I remember high school, the students back their cars in, get out, sit on the hood while blaring Katy Perry's Teenage Dream on stereos priced more than their tuition. I pull in with my land yacht Taurus with its baby seat strapped in the back and me crouched down in the seat embarrassed by my car. Why? Because it has a fashion faux pas. It has nasty ugly old person wheel well gap.

I'm not about to allow that to get in the way of my college education though. France has demanded I correct this before entering their country again. Oh no. We've got the skills, to rebuild it. Lower, faster, and more fashionable.

See now rich kids will go and install "lowering springs" in their cars. I have a set in our second Taurus. A $400 set of German engineered racing springs that do an insanely good job of turning a 4 door family car into a corner eating monster. Unfortunately now that I am a poor student, I can't swing even the $150 di…

How to fix a leaky Geo Metro O-Ring

So I fixed the leak in Le Metro. It was a simple fix, which I thought I'd share here for readers of the interweb. When I bought the car there was a leak occurring approximately at where the engine and transmission bell-housing join. The oil ran down the top of the transmission and under the car. An easy way to diagnose if indeed, your Geo Metro has an O-ring leak, is to check if the bottom of the distributor is oily. 

Apparently it's very common problem in these cars, and likely it's your problem too.

O-Ring? Isn't that what went bad in the Shuttle Challenger? Yes! The cool thing is fixing it, only cost me .90 cents. Don't go to your local autoparts store and think they'll have a o-ring in the computer for you to buy. They don't, but they do have them from a universal set in the back for around $1 a piece. Buy one and you'll solve your leaking o-ring problem in your Geo Metro.

Took me a bit of time to find the diagnostic port, but it's there, marked UP…

Where Did All My Coolant Go? Disappearing Antifreeze.

How to replace a thermostat on a Geo Metro, or where did all my coolant go?

So my 1996 Geo Metro (1.0 3 cylinder) has had a mysterious loss of coolant. I suspected it might have a leak, but could never quite find it. Of course your first worry is that it has a head gasket leak, but none of the other symptoms, like smoke, or contaminated oil were there.

It's the case of the disappearing antifreeze.

What made it even more interesting is when I filled up the coolant reserve, and radiator with fluid, I discovered the car ran 10x better and got better MPG.

So what was going on?

Here to find out, Geo, Suzuki or General Motors made a poorly designed thermostat seal which leaked from the factory. It ended up being corrected in a later service bulletin, and subsequently the part through the dealer, I'm told, is corrected too. However buying the part at the dealer, a $30 investment, seems silly. (They sell the thermostat and gasket as one piece.) The problem arises with auto part stores like…

I know, right?

You may recall in your childhood someone advising you that you are what you eat. It is a rather true figure of speech which you can apply to other aspects of life: a job is who you are, or the people around you help define you. The last one is sort of interesting from a cultural perspective because it suggests social hybridization if you adopt aspects of a foreign culture into your own. Some people actively reject such concepts (think about your conservatives out there who renamed French fries: Freedom Fries), some choose to adopt only socially popular symbols, and then there is me. I'm a freaking sponge for this stuff generally. While I'm mostly aware of such language cues, and/or aspects of culture which are integrated into my life, there are occasionally those habits I adopt which I'm completely unaware.

Sometimes this happens within your own culture, for example the phrase: I know, right? Of course this is Generation-Y's phrase of agreement which either a) you'r…

Geo Metro New Owner's Guide

So I've been wanting to post this online for awhile. It's something I constantly get asked, and I'll probably continue to refine this post into the future as I think of things. Much of what I'm about to say is valid for many cars, but I get a lot of people wanting to know about my Geo Metro which typically gets between 40-50 MPG. I've owned my 1996 3 cylinder Geo Metro Hatchback for about two years, and have come to realize the main difference between many people who own these cars and get good gas mileage, and those who don't, come down to some minor tuning issues, that often are a result of geography (e.g. hotter air in the south, California emissions, etc.). By following the next few guidelines to minimize these difference, almost any Metro can obtain between 40-55 MPG depending on engine condition.

(ALMOST) FREE STUFF (Modifications): 
1- Tire inflation. - Typically most people fill their tires to 35 PSI. Generally that's the recommendation on most vehicl…

America Drugs its citizens with their dreams.

A land of opportunity they say and hope is not necessarily a bad thing. However, in America we've made hope into a drug which pollutes the minds of its citizens. We've taken something we humans need just like water, air or food and we've commercialized it like a Happy Meal. We simply can't believe in a normal life anymore. In a land littered with American Idols, Paris Hilton, Jon Benet Ramsie, and childhood cliches which suggest that in a land of opportunity, eventually all your dreams do come true- how can anyone possibly ever argue America isn't great?

I imagine certain individuals will reject my thesis or be angered by it, however it is important to recognize the consequences of an insidious system which manifests its own withdrawal mechanism to maintain its power over citizens and keep its dreamers addicted to hope. If even the slightest possibility exists that any of this is true, isn't this a sign things have gone terribly wrong? If the hope of the Americ…

Match Mounting the Red Dot on Tires

So this is a public service announcement, because frankly I'm quite upset.

The last couple sets of tires I purchased, I did so with new wheels at the same time. This meant they were sent from a distributors warehouse with likely the best trained techs, on the best equipment. Never had a problem.

Today and tomorrow however Discount Tires is running a $75-$100 rebate on a set of four tires. I booked an appointment for yesterday and dropped the car off. I  waited, only to discover upon return the vehicle it had a horrible vibration. So I turned around on the freeway and waited another two hours for them to fix it, but they didn't. I drove off with more vibration.

Upon arriving home (and I should have checked there), I discovered none of the tires are match-mounted. What's match-mounting you ask? Well let me tell you, so you too can not get raked by your tire man.

In the simplest explanation:

•New tires (not always but) generally have a red-dot on the side-wall.
•This …

The Spongy Brake Fix

So I learned a trick this week which is kind of cool. It's kind of cool, because it takes very little effort to achieve rock hard brakes, after bleeding, or if your brakes are spongy from previous brake work.

I came upon this trick after installing new calipers on the Geo. I didn't quite have the firm brakes that I had expected, and so I searched around online and came upon the mention of this 83 year old man who had advised an individual on the web, just to put a brick on the brake pedal overnight. Surely that can't work I thought, but I was wrong.

A lot of people do this trick on motorcycles with a zip tie, to the brake lever. Google it, and you find this measure of self-bleeding actually works (there are a few deniers). No one seems to know how it works though, though air-bubbles have been seen in the morning following the release of the brake lever. (Note this is not a replacement for traditional bleeding, but often used in addition to it, to achieve better results.)

To m…