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Cars > Chuckster’s Garage > Blog > And we're breathing...and breathing...


Chuckster’s Profile Photo


M –58
Norman, Oklahoma
United States


Chuckster’s Blog Posts 1 – 4 of 4

And we're breathing...and breathing...

By Chuckster

So, Max came out of the shop back in February after 18 months or so, allegedly ready to rumble. Cooling issues were nixed, fuel issues corrected, and air was to blow cool enough to hang meat.

Uh, no.

Same problem(s) came roaring back after just a short time...engine surging, temp climbing like a bat out of hell even in 65-degree ambient temperature, not even with the air on.

Back into the shop. Hey, he came highly recommended on Angie's List, and I still swear by him; I just think that electrical problems might be an Achilles heel here, and Achilles doesn't want to admit it. He insists it's in the wiring, and I am to leave the car with him (again).

It's now October 5, 2011, and on the day I come ("hey, woulja come get this 'damn' thing outta my hair?" - he and I have the same sense of humor) to get my Impala back, I'm ecstatic. Running smooth as a baby's bottom, and cooling seems not to be an issue.

What's been done since is:
1. Add a Ford-style t'stat housing with an integral bung for a temp sensor (wired to the fans and the temp gauge), 195-deg. t'stat (instead of the the 165 I had), and now two-count 'em-TWO relays for the fans, as it seems the old single relay that came with the two-fan kit couldn't cut it.

2. As to the air conditioner, it's been largely re-plumbed inside the engine compartment, with new tubing and some sorta electrical valve-sensor-thingy (technical term) inserted in the upper refrigerant line. Supposed to be the way the AC was to be when it was converted by the Goodyear dealer in Norman I'd paid over $1100 to do the job a year before. AC never DID cool worth a farthing before, and became more annoying after the 'conversion.' Good thing I'd broken my back shortly after and got laid up for nearly a year (thass why I've not been here in so long), or I'dve been REALLY pithed off.

3. Oh, and Max also (mechanic said) had had his gas tank removed, cleaned out and a new fuel filter sock installed, and new fuel line from the tank forward. Should help fix the stalling problem.

4. AND as a bonus, a persistent rumble/thrumming sound under the car was traced to a combination of a rubbing exhaust system and a bearing in the rear end going out. Rear end internals replaced, exhaust fixed.

Car runs as smooth as glass - almost feels like a new ride...showroom fresh!


Maybe not.

We had Max back about 4 days and had used up most of the gas in the tank when we decided to fill up before we got too low.

I knew things were going too well.

We're heading up what I'd call a 20-degree grade and have to slow down for a guy who decides to cut in front of us and exit the highway at the last second.

Let the fun begin.

Max sputtered and surged...I thought it was just caught between shifts, and would iron itself out when we backed off the throttle.

Nope. Got worse. Surging like way back in California years ago, when the fuel pump caved. (Did I mention my current mechanic had also replaced the pump since then?)

The REAL fun began when the temp gauge climbed up to 190 ("remain calm" I thought, "all is ok...") ... and kept on climbing. Past 210 to 225...then to 240 before we could pull off the road and shut down; it was that quick. Didn't even have time to turn the heater on first!

Then for some reason, I noticed that the fans weren't going when the key was on and the temp was still showing 210. " 'Taint right" I thought. Still, I poked around under the hood and told the wife to turn the heater on full blast, and we'd limp it back home.

Heater wouldn't work. Fans came back on though, sucking torrential heat from the radiator. Fans were on while the engine was running, too, so I know that wasn't a problem. (Perhaps the aluminum plates I long-ago put around the fans to force the airflow through the fans alone? Based on the temp profile to that point, I still don't think so.)

Still, the air coming from the heater core was tepid at best. Should've been hot enough to melt the carpeting, but nope. Come to think of it, we had no coolant spewage, no leaks, and the recovery tank was doing its job wonderfully, thankyouverymuch.

We waited for our Chevrolet Steam Iron to cool down to something short of Chernobyl as we called our mechanic and calmly relayed our intense and heartfelt feelings of profound dismay at this newfound batch of gratuitous automotive misery. I was losing it, though I wasn't going to show it if I could maintain myself.

Didn't work.

Had a nervous breakdown of sorts that began that evening and would last through the next week. Lost 14 lbs, too. Depression is a mo-fo, let me tell you. I've been on Zoloft for years now, and my shrink has now added Wellbutrin to my little 'happy-pill' regimen.

I'm MUCH better now.

So much so that when I got the car back from him 3 days later and Max repeated his recalcitrant behaviors, I calmly brought the car back to his new home at the garage.

Twenty-four hours later Max had two new 70-amp relays on his fans (seems old ones had melted internally somehow) and I was told to bring the car back in the Spring so something called a 'trinary switch' could be put in the AC line to replace the 'binary switch' he has in there now. (Why put the binary in in the first place then? Why not just leave the AC out of commission till Spring?) Deep breaths....we're breathing...

... breathing ...

Forward to a few days ago. Come to pick up the car to find out the vacuum line to the solenoid that releases engine coolant to the heater core was, um, unplugged.

As was the (professionally-installed) power line to the battery - that powers the car stereo amps when the faceplate is in and the radio/CD is on.

Mechanic guy said he forgot the heater line, and the power lead was disconnected so as not to drain the battery. Didn't have the heart to tell him that it only draws power WHEN THE FRIGGIN' RADIO IS ACTUALLY ON! (Did I mention I've had the faceplate on my desk this whole time?)

Sigh. We're breathing deeeeeeeeply now...

Well, we've got Max back and - with the heater left on - things seem to be okay for now. We're limiting things to short trips till we can find a car we can afford for under $1000 to get us through the winter and act as our primary once Max is 'healthy' again.

I've done some research on my ole 327, and it seems that either a restricted exhaust manifold/system or a crack somewhere in the head or engine block would be to blame, but there's no intermixing of fluids we can see, smell or find via testing, and no indication we're burning or expelling coolant by any measure.

Mechanic says he still believes it's a wiring problem. HOW it is or WHY he believes it is waaay beyond me...hey, I've only got three college degrees earned after my military service (as a Transportation NCOIC, I might add). His solution is to completely rewire the car.

Mine is to re-engine the car. I mean, seriously...if I've replaced everything OUTside the engine, doesn't that indicate BY DEFAULT that the problem is IN the engine?

Hence our search for the mythical cheap but reliable 'other vehicle.' Once we can find such a beast, Max can remain in the drive until such time as we can refresh his engine with a complete rebuild. Hey, it's only about $3K, right? It's ONLY money! I'm only trying to sell all my audio and camera gear to pay for it...that I haven't sold in almost a year!!!

...remember to breathe ... breathe ... breathe ...

I'm setting a target date of 2013 to get Max back on the road, if the Mayans haven't got us totalled by then.

Maybe I'll have him re-wired too, just to blow a little more filthy lucre we can't afford...why the heck not? He was going to have a Painless wiring kit and a Dakota Digital dash panel anyway!

I'm going to bed now.

Venting is exhausting.

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