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Well, That Didn’t Work

December 3, 2018

After ten days I was finally ready to take my truck back out for a test drive. It didn’t go well.

I recently fixed my daughter’s Honda Civic. She rearended someone. Her repairs were kind of extensive, new hood, new headlights, new compressor, new condensor, new radiator support. Lots of cutting, welding, grinding. Stuff I hadn’t really done before.

And it worked.

I took her car in today to get the emissions done. (Why Utah cancelled the safety inspection requirement but kept the emissions is beyond me. But, that’s a different post.) Jiffy Lube offers to do a “free” safety inspection while they are doing the paid emissions test.

I know why they do it. They want to sell you additional services. I don’t mind. I’m not going to pay for any additional services, but I’m not opposed to them checking my work. In fact, I was sort of happy about it.

During the repair work, a lot of brake fluid ended up on my driveway. I never did find a leak, but the fluid level was way down. I topped it off after I put the frontend back together, but I had a worry that the system might have a slow leak somewhere.

Nope. The technicians went over my car and found a few minor items, a burned out taillight, a dirty air filter, missing cabin air filters. The brake fluid was in great shape as was the rest of the repair.

It’s always a good feeling when you work on something for a long time and manage to actually fix the issue.

That didn’t happen with my truck. It’s an old truck, a 94 Dodge Dakota with 136,000 miles on it. Recently it started making some really scary noises when turning right and when accelerating from a stop going up a hill. I would describe it as a ca-chunk, ca-chunk noise.

I did some research on the internet and identified the issue as a possible problem with the differential. That’s the “pumpkin” shaped thing in the middle of the rear axle on a rear wheel drive, or a four wheel drive vehicle.

I decided to rebuild it.

I’d never done a rebuild. I learned new stuff. I did a full rebuild, axle bearings and seals, pinion bearings and seal, new bearings for the spider gears, new fluid, new gasket. The whole deal. It took almost two weeks.

I rushed to finish the last of it on Sunday. My neighbors came over to help me remount the truck bed. I normally don’t work on Sundays, but this was an Ox in the Mire.

And when I took it out for a test drive? Ca-chunk, ca-chunk.

The problem with being your own mechanic (or plumber, or computer tech) is that if you misdiagnose the problem, you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.

So, my broken truck has a brand new differential. . .and a serious sounding problem from the drivetrain area.

My next guess is that I need to rebuild the transfer case. . .I’ve never done one before.

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.

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From → car repairs

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