Skip to content

I Don’t Want To Talk About It

April 10, 2018

This week I’m talking about friends. . and cars. (An Unpleasant Visit From An Old Friend.) Today, I had experiences with both friends and cars. The first was awesome. The second I don’t want to talk about.

My cousin came to help me with my car. And my neighbor came over to help me with my car. And it.was.awesome. Especially after yesterday’s thoughts on fake friends and car repairs it was wonderful to have two men that really owed me nothing take part of their day to come help me rip my engine apart.

Okay, it’s a water pump and the water pump on the 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix is pretty accessible. You pull off the radiator overflow resevoir and it’s right there.

Easy peasy.

Just one little problem. That last bolt on the water pump. Well, there was the moment when I realized that all the bolts in my car are metric. Except the small bolts on the water pump felt really loose with a 10mm socket. That’s a fairly small socket and with any bolt that goes into the engine block, you want to be very careful. Breaking a bolt, or stripping the head means you are in for a lot of extra work in a really awkward space trying to get them out.

What was crazy? A 3/8″ socket fit perfectly. Almost all modern cars are totally metric. In fact, it was for this car that I got my first “half-size” metric socket. Doing some work last summer I needed a 5.5mm socket. But, this one was standard. Actually there were four of these bolts and they all took a 3/8″ socket.

But, that last bolt was a pain. I tried reaching it with an open end 13mm wrench. I slipped and rounded one of the corners. Nope that’s not going to work. It was stuck behind the pulley wheel for the power steering pump.

I got a pulley puller. But, the pulley puller is about 4″ long and there’s only about 2″ between the pully and the frame. (That’s the reinforced steel frame that holds the car rigid. You are NOT getting that to move.) No luck on the pulley puller. I finally fell back on my IT training. I went and looked it up on Google. I found a wonderful 45 min video on how to replace the water pump on a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix.

I watched this professional mechanic go through my exact actions and thoughts.

This shouldn’t be too bad.

Weird, these bolts are 3/8″ instead of 10mm.

Oh, not as easy as I thought. . .That power steering pulley is going to be a problem.

Turns out you have to remove the bolts holding the power steering pump in place. Oh, and the bolts are accessed through holes in the pulley. And, no, there is physically no way to see them. You have to do everything by feel.

My cousin was here for the whole repair. That was good because we had to go to the parts store because the water pump had a nick in it. And we needed engine mounts. And a replacement lightbulb, and my car was. . .currently unavailable.

We got it disassembled, cleaned and started putting it back together. In addition we replaced the thermostat, repaired a flakey turn signal, topped off the power steering fluid, changed the oil and replaced a headlight.

I was particularly nervous about physically putting the water pump on the engine. It requires a gasket and gasket sealer and if you do it wrong, you won’t know until you’ve got it all the way back together, take a test drive and check for leaks.

We finally got it all back together. Including a frustrating 10 minutes trying to “feel” where the power steering bolts attached to the engine block. I even put the serpentine belt back on correctly the first time. (That’s not happened before. I normally have to go to the drawings.)

And then it was time for my cousin to head home to work on a famiy issue. I was struck by the generosity of my cousin and my neighbor. The generosity of my friends. I appreciated that, especially today.

I did the test drive on my own. With the new engine mounts and the power steering squeal eliminated and the oil replaced, the engine sounded so quite I wasn’t even sure it was running at times. I drove back to the auto parts store and recycled a couple of gallons of used oil and the old filter.

When I got home I pulled into the driveway and checked to see if there were leaks under the car.

Let’s just say, I don’t want to talk about it. I know what I’m doing tomorrow.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (
LinkedIn (
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Leave a Reply