Log of the E320 #2's life with us.

Monday, December 31, 2018

I stopped by the lot to look at the car. Turns out they weren't open, but I could see it, took a walk around. Was decent looking, not all bashed up. Worth coming back, they re-open on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lot owner states that they can sell all of these that they can find, quickly, and buy them when/wherever they notice one for sale. As in: don't dick around, it won't be here long. (He even mentioned a bounty, if I knew of any for sale in the wild.) Well, that may be a sales pitch, but it's probably fairly true nonetheless. Took a test drive, noticed a number of problems:
  1. Fob doesn't work. (They say it has a bad vacuum pump, and provided a used one in a box. So, door lock, trunk, and headrest release systems are not functional. Trunk will only open with the emergency key.)
  2. LR interior door handle not working. Feels broken inside.
  3. Lamp behind the warning center is out.
  4. Dead pixels in side LCD displays. (Extremely common, and a straightforward fix.)
  5. Dome lights don't come on with doors. (Turned off with switch, bad/misadjusted door switch?)
  6. Driver's seat heater seems inoperative.
  7. Squeaky/jiggly ride. Probably needs new shocks and struts.
  8. Only one key. Spendy!
  9. No fog lights.
  10. Squeaky roller on passenger-side seat belt.
  11. Rear-seat cupholder stuck.
  12. Tear in driver's seat bolster. Looks almost like a cut rather than wear.
Bought the car, settled on $2,500 as-is. Weighed in at $2987.75 with all the fixin's. They say to call them if/when I need parts, as they have an excellent deal with a wholesaler.

Filled up car. Wants premium, it got mid-grade.

At home I bought an owner's manual set on eBay: $27.19

Thursday, January 3, 2019

I pulled the rear seat bench and removed the PSE (vacuum pump), and installed the replacement. The door locks and trunk work again, but there is apparently a leak in the passenger front door pod, because the pump can't quite make it actuate by itself, and the lock howls a bit during the procedure. If you assist this plunger in its travels the rest of the car follows suit and the pump turns off. A leak such as this apparently can destroy the pump motor due to running in vain for too long. This will have to be addressed before the car is ready for use. (Looks like both the RF and LR door panels will need to come off during this sort-out.)

The original pump is 210 800 19 48, but the used replacement that came with the car is 210 800 11 48. The former apparently supersedes the latter. A new pump is about $650, and a rebuilt one is $450! Burned-out motors due to vacuum leaks are apparently the common failure.

I noticed that the driver's seat heater fuse was missing, so I put in a spare. We'll soon see if it's missing for a reason.

Friday, January 4, 2019

At lunch I spent an hour on the car. I opened up the RF door panel, it comes off fairly simply:
  1. Pry out two plastic plugs, and the handle bezel, and remove the three big Philips-head screws thus exposed;
  2. Remove lock knob, run down the window, and pry up the top cover, out of the four metal clips that hold it in its channel;
  3. Remove the door striker trim, and pry out (carefully!) the plastic pop-rivets that hold the panel in place.
You can then unplug/unhook the lights and the seat switch connections to the door panel, and set it aside.

With the guts thus exposed you could hear the door latch leaking when you tried the fob. I unplugged the vacuum/pressure hose and taped over it, thereafter the rest of the car locked and unlocked with alacrity. Time for a new pod? We also need a plastic pop-rivet or two, they haven't all survived 'til now in good condition. I put the door latch bezel back so that the courtesy lights function correctly, as it's what depresses the switch in the door frame at the B pillar. I put the lock knob back so that the door can be operated semi-normally while I await parts.

I went around to the other side and removed the LR door panel, same procedure. The problem there is that someone had clearly been in there, and had not correctly reassembled things. The release cable had popped out of its eyelet on the handle. The trick there is that the cable body has to be clipped into the door panel, which you do by 'opening' the door and slipping just the cable (and not the sheath) into the slot provided for it. Reassembly is just the reverse of disassembly. After that the door would open correctly from the inside.

Finally I tackled the driver's door courtesy light switch. Examination in daylight showed that the door itself closed properly, and that the latch bezel was correct. The problem is that the switch body had been punched in a bit, and sank into the frame under its own spring pressure enough to prevent the switch from opening. I just removed the switch, thereafter the courtesy lights could be re-enabled via the overhead switch, and all seemed to work properly.

I need to order:

  1. Door lock pod, P/N 202 720 44 35;
  2. Door panel plastic pop-rivets, P/N 011 988 76 78;
  3. Door switch, P/N 202 820 94 10.
That door lock is $250! The vacuum part is not separately available. I ordered the other parts from FCP Euro, for $13.70. (Four panel clips and one door switch.) I'm going to be examining my options here.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Daniel and I went to Pull-and-Save, they had a couple of newer cars there. I managed to drop about $40. From the E320 I got the door latch. $2! Its courtesy light switches were an older style, and not usable. From the slightly newer C230 I got a courtesy light switch that fits and works; I installed it in the parking lot; $3. I also picked up its Owner's manual. It's older and not particularly accurate, but is better than nothing and does cover the climate control system; $2. I also grabbed a handful of dash lamps and some fuses from the C230, they look like the kind the E320 uses.

The bad right front door latch was there on the E320, and its locking diaphragm was intact. (You can test this by corking it with your thumb while you move the locking knob.) Thus began the nightmare! That SOB does not want to come out, it's trapped behind the riveted-in window guide rail. The main problem seems to be the molded plastic rain guide, which is snapped to the latch. If you can figure out how to separate the two first, then the body of the latch can pivot around the window rail and come out. That took us maybe 40 minutes to get out. I also grabbed some plastic pop-rivets for the door panel.

Daniel was whining because his seat was fully forward on the trip in, from my earlier work in the back seat, and the switches were at home on the door panel in the garage. I spent $9 and bought the E320's door switches just so that he could adjust it better for the trip home. I'm so nice! They can go on the spares shelf, I guess.

At home the nightmare really began. First we had to get out the old door latch, which was, if anything, worse than the first one. In part because I cared more about not ruining anything. The bad latch was P/N 202 720 44 35. The older latch from the yard was P/N 202 720 20 35, and was set up for a mechanical key lock. It looked, however, like it would fit in place of the simpler lock-less one. Getting the thing put back together was a nightmare. The biggest problem was getting the latch back in place, and the handle on, all while not losing the screw that holds the external (infrared?) lock plate in place and making sure the connector to that piece was in place. We lost that screw into the door guts twice, and had to take it all back apart and fish with a magnet to get it back. Frustrating, and time-consuming. However, eventually we prevailed, but we really did need four hands and two sets of eyes to get it done. (This would likely not be necessary for somebody experienced at this, who knew all the tricks.) This consumed a good three or more hours, total.

Once it was somewhat together we tried out the door, including the locking system. It all seemed to work nicely. I was too tired to finish putting the door back together, and it was starting to get dark. Tomorrow.

This particular door latch seems very poorly designed, an all-in-one monstrosity that may be quick and cheap to assemble at the factory, but which is a nightmare to service in the field. The part, bought new, is quite expensive. Smells of cost-reduction to me. (To the factory, not to us!) Three separate parts, rain shield, latch, and vacuum pod, which would be infinitely easier to service, and cheaper, as separate parts.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

We were planning to go to the boneyard again, to try to liberate some parts for the 190D, so I decided it was time to fabricate some dash cluster removal hooks; I used welding rod. (To get the boneyard 190E's cluster out, as well as this car's.) I spent some time making a T-handle with a hooked end, using 3/32" rod. The worst part was trying to weld the handle end into a unit so that you could pull from both wings of the handle without it bending to the side. (I burned through several of these fabrications until I got the heat on the wire feed dialed in.) In an effort to make it stronger I used the smoke wrench to heat the hook end red hot, then quenched it in some ice that was laying there. I made two of these, and found that 3/32" rod is simply not strong enough, the shaft bends so that the hook comes undone when you pull hard on it. I made one more with 1/8" rod, and was able to use it to pull the cluster out of the E320; in spite of the extra thickness of this rod I was able to find spots to wedge the hooks in. (The same was true of the yard's 190E, later in the day.)

With a rather distressingly hard pull the cluster came out. I unhooked the two electrical connectors and removed the cluster from the vehicle. I replaced the two burnt-out 1.2W (green base) bulbs with two of the 1.5W (cream base) bulbs I got at the boneyard yesterday, I trust that this will do until/unless I get the correct lamps. I put the cluster back, but did not push it into place as I still need to go over all the lights, and also cure the LCD display contact issues. After this the odometer and warning center display was nicely visible, if perhaps slightly bright.

At the boneyard I bought the 'wrong' vacuum pump from their E320. It had occurred to me that while the assembly was definitely wrong, the motor inside, the part that is reputed to fail most, is probably not. $13. I also picked up two E320 wheels, for possible snow tire duty. Those were surprisingly expensive, $16 each plus $15 each for core charge, and they don't really match the style that is on either E320 we have. (I'll see if I have something ratty around here to return for cores.)

On the way back home I stopped at the FLAPS to replenish my glue supplies, particularly the 3M spray 77 glue I use for door moisture barriers. They had a thermostat for this car on the shelf, $32. (It comes with an aluminum housing, which seems odd.) I also bought some G-05 coolant for the job. The car's been running at about 60°C indicated, which is low; it should run at 85°C.

Monday, January 7, 2019

At lunchtime I went out and glued the vapor barrier back to the door. Putting the door back together, I had a couple of the attachment rivet mount points come unglued from the panel. I used weatherstrip cement to re-glue, because I thought it'd dry faster than Shoe Goo. I don't think it's really strong enough, next time that door comes apart I'll probably re-glue with something better. Anyway, with some fiddling I had the door back together, and the rear seat back in. Looks good!

I found one extremely corroded chrome-plated aluminum bundt wheel to return for core charge. Need to find another useless/ruined wheel to return... (There's a $5 charge if the wheel is encumbered by a tire.)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The owner's manual set arrived. Hardback! It's in a nice folding pouch, but did not come with a COMAND manual, bummer.

At lunchtime I tackled the malfunctioning license plate lamp. Apparently post-'facelift' this can no longer be done easily, requiring the trunk lid liner be removed for access. (Security? Were people able to pop the trunk by removing the license lamps from outside?) That was a pain. It seems like it wasn't the bulb, but some kind of loose connection, I'm not sure that it is permanently fixed, I guess we'll see.

The fog light fuse is intact, so that's not the problem there.

I found that the blue base 1.2W bulbs from earlier cars seem to fit well enough in the instrument cluster, and work. These bulbs don't protrude as far into the light chambers as the green-base bulbs, resulting in a bit less light, but I think it'll be fine. Beats ordering (and paying for, and waiting for) exact replacements. I also pulled open the instrument cluster and tried the 'increase the pressure on the LCD ribbons' trick, along with a dusting of De-Ox-It. No joy. New ribbon cables are available online, as are replacement LCD's with cables, at moderate prices. I may just try 'replacement' with the cables that are there, after a full cleaning. Seems fairly involved, and fiddly, but the price will be right if it works, and there are reasonable Plan B options.

Friday, January 11, 2019

I opened up the instrument cluster, with an eye towards refreshing the LCD ribbon cables. What was not clear from all the online instructions is that the act of peeling them loose from the PCB's and LCD's destroys them. It is possible that acetone might have allowed their release and re-use, I don't know. Maybe next time, on Barney? What is clear is that I now need new ribbons before this cluster can be used again. (In a pinch I could re-assemble it to use while I waited for parts, but then I'd just have to take it apart again.)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

I had a look in Barney, and it had the cupholder mechanism in one of the two consoles stored in the trunk, fully functional. (One console is broken, the other is intended to be the replacement.) I stole the cupholder mechanism, cleaned off the spillage goo with hot water, and installed it. She'll need it far more than I ever would. (I still may need to remove the entire console in order to repair/replace the wonky cupholder cover mechanism.)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The new instrument cluster ribbon cables came today. I looked up one of the conductive glues used in the industry, and the 'soldering' spec is 180°C for 5 seconds, at 3 MPa of pressure. I have a temperature-controlled soldering station, that looks like just the ticket.

Friday, February 15, 2019

I picked up the license plates today. They had a 2000 E320 4WD wagon, silver with 199kmi going up for sale. Price mentioned was $3,300-ish. They offered me a finder's fee if I threw them a buyer.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

It's been far too long, and we could really have used this car in the last month. I used acetone and swabs to clean off the LCD displays and the circuit board, and 'soldered' the new ribbon cables on at 180°C. I partially reassembled the instrument cluster and put it in the car. The operation was not a success, there were many bad segments in the display. (Better than before? I'm no longer sure, it's been too long.) Unfortunate.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

I installed the dash cluster, and used a potato fork to chip away the ice berms behind the car so it could actually back out of its hole. (It couldn't reverse out of there, 4wd or no.) With the car out into the open, I installed the license plates and the new thermostat. The license plate screws were very corroded and stiff, I used a M5×0.8 tap and die to clean and lubricate the threads, which made putting the plates on much easier. The thermostat job was delayed by my losing track of where I had put the new E sockets, and losing one of the two thermostat bolts down onto the plastic engine pan. I had to jack up the car and remove two of the pan mount screws to liberate it. Otherwise, the job was very straightforward. I buttoned it back up and topped off the coolant with fresh Z-05. I used the usual trick of removing the radiator end of the upper hose, pouring coolant in to the tank until it began to spill out the opened hose, then pouring into the joint between hose and radiator until I can't get any more to go in there, then ramming the hose on and tightening it. This burps out most of the air, making the whole process a lot more certain.

We went for a test drive, it was sunny and near 50°F so I opened the sunroof. The car warmed up to just over 80°C indicated, so the thermostat (a Mercedes original, 112 203 02 75) was indeed at fault. The attempted repair on the LCD screens made it better than before, but it's not good yet.

I took one ratty alloy wheel back to Spalding's, to reclaim the core charge. I haven't been able, so far, to find another ratty wheel lying around, I thought I had one. They were a bit snotty about how long it had been since I bought the wheel, I may end up eating the other $15 core charge. At least that garbage is now out of my trunk. At Spalding's I checked the coolant level, and it was still good.

Monday, March 18, 2019

I drove the car in today and had the sellers scan the codes, as the Check Engine light has been on. Their Maxi-DAS came up with:
P0115Engine Coolant Temperature
P0410Secondary Air Injection System
P1747Electronic Pressure Control
This might be semi-spurious, so I had them clear the codes and we'll see if anything comes back.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The P0410 code is back. Brother suggests that it's possible the check valve is leaking backwards a bit, causing it and/or the air pump to get corroded inside, causing this kind of problem. It needs a laying on of hands.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

On the recommendation of the seller I called On-Site dash repair regarding the LCD problems, and it turns out they don't do this themselves, they'd send it off. They quoted $275–325, depending on which exact model it was. Not too attractive, at that price I can afford to take another stab at it myself.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

I ordered front shocks for the car. $346.98, with bellows, for the correct Bilsteins from FCP Euro.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The shocks came a few days ago. I put the car up on ramps, and had a look. Looks straighforward... NOT! I did some more Googling, a bit more thoroughly this time, and it looks like this is actually a bitch of a job, requiring ball joint and half-shaft removal. And, the fancy Klann spring compressor I own is not the correct tool for this job. (You need a different Klann compressor.) Perhaps I should just cave in on this one?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I called around. The usual places (Silver Star, C&H) would not install the $350 worth of parts I had already bought. European Autohaus (Thorpe Rd.) would, for roughly that same charge, but with no warrantee on the parts. Good enough. I made an appointment for Wednesday the 26th.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dropped the car off. They think it'll be done today.

It was. They said, though, that the front CV boots were shot on the passenger side.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Loose flat on LR. Local Schwab said it had a sidewall hole, non-repairable, and had circled it. I couldn't see anything. Today I took it to a different Schwab, they thought it was flaking chrome on the wheel's seating surface. He wire-brushed it and put in a new valve stem, just to be sure.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Silver Star Automotive quoted $873 to reboot, vs about $60 more for a new aftermarket axle. Not very attractive.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The LR flat has been getting worse, it now requires a daily airing up. I took it to Liberty Tire, and they were unable to find the sidewall hole. (I had seen the leak myself, so it wasn't imaginary.) They did find a bit of metal in the face though, and patched it. We'll see if that takes care of the problem or not. They gave me a piece of chalk and told me to mark the leak and bring it back, if I saw it again.

Monday, December 23, 2019

I saw the tire leak in the rain, and marked it with the chalk. It's in the round mold mark in the tread over the "E" in "GOODYEAR". No time to do more than this, however.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

I finally had a chance to take the car back in, now that things have stabilized after the holidays, and they have supposedly fixed the tire leak. No (additional) charge.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Jill took the car to go visit her Dad for Father's Day, and on the way back, a mile from home, it died. She pulled off safely, and the car would crank but not start. We towed it home, the chances are good that the crankshaft position sensor (CPS) has died. Good thing she was so close to home!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

I gambled and took the car to Silverwood. Well, I tried, and lost the gamble. It made it as far as Rathdrum before it crapped out. I called for Daniel, and he and I towed it home on a rope. It would run, briefly, after a cooldown, but wouldn't run long after that. I had come prepared with the cheapo OBD-II reader, and it showed codes after the no-start: P0410 (the persistent air pump code), P0300, P0304, P0305. The three new codes are, respectively, random misfire, cylinder #4 misfire, and cylinder #5 misfire. According to lore these can also be caused by a failing crankshaft position sensor (CPS), even though there are dedicated codes for that that were not thrown here. Certainly the symptoms exactly match common CPS failures.

I looked into ordering a CPS, but there are too many different ones that it might be. Advice was to pull it and order another of whatever came out. I peeked, I can't see it, though it's supposed to be on the driver's side of the bell housing, up front and high.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Yesterday's episode really drained the battery, Daniel had the key on while being towed home so that he had wipers, signals, etc. It wouldn't crank once we got it home. I put it on charge, it drank long and hard. I used my recent garage-sale find, another old-school Schauer automatic charger like the one I've been using for decades.

Friday, July 3, 2020

I felt around and found the CPS by Braille. Once you know exactly where it is you can see it, sort of, if you contort yourself just right while crouching on the engine. It unplugged easily, but getting it out was another story. It does use an E8 external Torx screw. The secret was a 1.5" 1/4" socket extension, my 1/4" E8 socket, and a small 1/4" ratchet wrench. That extension was long enough to clear the CPS itself, but not so long as to push the wrench into something else. Other suggestions involved a 1/4" knuckle and long extensions, but this actually worked much better than long wobbly bits would have. (I tried to do that, briefly, before I hit upon using the very short extension.)

The CPS was very oily, and is Bosch 0 261 210 171, Mercedes A 003 153 27 28. I ordered one from Amazon, about $28. I used Jill's account, to get the free Prime delivery.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

We determined that the replacement CPS must have gotten caught up in packing material and discarded by accident, so we've ordered another one. Delivery was claimed, as part of one of Jill's orders, but she doesn't remember ever seeing it. Unfortunate.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The CPS came yesterday, this morning I installed it. It's easy, once you know exactly where it is and what you are doing. I used some DeOxIt on the terminals, just for luck.

While I was there I hooked the battery charger to the secondary air pump. Drew 6+ amps, sounded like it it was working fine, not sure what to make of that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

On the way to Long Beach the front belly pan blew down and started scraping on the freeway, making a horrid noise. I pulled/cut it off and put it in the trunk, and we continued on our way.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Jill's starting to drive this car more. I taught the embedded garage door opener what to do. Just like the X5, it couldn't see the Wayne Dalton remote at all, so I taught it the auxiliary remote opener control I installed some time ago. (This was made more difficult because the auxiliary fob's little 12V battery was dead. I had to jumper a big lead-acid battery to it to make it work.) Like on the X5, this may or may not work well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

We tried the embedded opener, and it seems to work fine. Better than it ever did with the X5.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Dropped the car off at A&B Motors. Their estimate of the axle repair was half that of others I'd gotten in the past.

They called at about 2PM, said it was ready.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Picked up the car. $487.33 for the axle repair. ($185 for the axle, $250 labor to install. Plus tax and shop supplies.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I mailed off the instrument cluster for LCD repair, to MVKMimi1 in Littleton, Colorado. (odo-pro.com) $107.02, order #02-05818-02558. Plus almost $20 in mailing costs on my end.

Friday, October 9, 2020

The cluster came back today, but when I installed it in the car it was inoperative, claiming "display defective, visit workshop" or something like that. No activity on anything except the clock, no gauges moving, white field for the gear display, etc.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

I took the cluster back out to document exactly what it said for the bitch-o-gram, and it decided to work instead. WTF? It's a lot colder and wetter today, could that have been it? Some research suggests that there are a number of innoucous things that can cause that message. This was suggested:
The fault you describe is either the washer bottle level sensor or coolant level sensor that is defective. They are wired in series and work on a voltage coded system read by the instrument cluster. If the voltages are not within its parameters it gives this display. No guarantees which one but odds on it's the washer level sensor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

According to the online tire selectors, the correct snow tire for this car is the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 or 9 in 215/55R16. Or, a 195/65R15 if a 15" wheel will work. (Four listed sizes for this chassis from Nokian: 195/65R15, 205/65R15, 205/65R16, and 215/55R16.) Discount tire is now listed as a Nokian dealer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The dash had illumination problems, and I found two dead bulbs. I had a spare 2W push-in bulb for the main cluster lighting, but I couldn't find my spare colored-base twist lock bulbs. However, I can live without the seatbelt warning lamp, so I switched it for the dead illumination lamp on the main LCD display. It all looks good, now.

I checked out the seat heaters. This system uses only two wires, the two heating pads are in parallel and are PWM'd for the low heat setting. (Some systems put the two pads in series for low, and parallel for high.) The power goes into a 2-wire plug at the front of the seat frame, the one with heavy wires. The socket has four spade contacts on the seat frame, the two pads are in parallel at that point due to the way the plug is wired. The pads are about 2.5 ohms (60W) each on the passenger side, which does seem to work. They're both open-circuit on the driver's side. Both sides get power when the dash switches are operated.

So, just about what you would expect. The heating pads on the driver's seat are both broken and open-circuit, and probably require complete seat removal and disassembly to correct.


Friday, October 16, 2020

More research on the seat heaters suggests that the W210 does not use separate heating pads, but rather a serpentine wire laid into the foam padding under the seat covering. This gives a much wider heating profile, encompassing the bolsters as well as the center sections, but is also more fragile. These wires seem to break on the outer bolsters, which are high-stress areas. OTOH, it is apparently often easy to repair the breaks in the wires—once you get access to them!

This promises to be a slow repair, which is not too cool if you want to be driving the car. I wonder if I can get a spare seat to swap into the car in the interim? How hard is it to remove a seat? Looks like it's pretty much the same as on older cars, but uses an E12 Torx rather than a hex-head bolt. In the junkyard, the lack of being able to move the power seats will likely be the major sticking point.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Yesterday I hit both cheap junkyards, but there was nothing I could use. Today I tried one of the 15" 124 wheels I had in the stockpile, but it wouldn't go on over the (front) brake caliper. So, we must use 16" wheels, of which I have only two. Also, there's a sidewall bubble on the LF tire, so that will have to be replaced. Stupid 17" wheels and their weak-ass low-profile tires.

I started checking Craigslist, and found a W210 car being parted out. Turns out it had been stripped of 3 of the wheels, but one was left on it and there was still one in the trunk. Somewhat weird acquisition, a bit sketchy, but ended up with the two 16" wheels for $20. They're not an exact match to the other two, but they're close in style.

Monday, October 19, 2020

I checked around, and Discount Tire (local) could get them in for $180 each, in 215/55R16. Hakka 9's, studded. Probably about $900 installed. They'll call when they're in, they had to order them.

Monday, November 9, 2020

They never called on the tires, but I dropped by today and they were actually ready. Looks like they had been for a little while. The tires are directional, and there are two different kinds of wheels. I'd requested that they make the lefts and rights match, but of course they did not.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I put the snow tires on. The two rear tires that came off have very low tread. The fronts look very good, except that the driver's side has a sidewall blister. Probably time for new tires to go on in the Spring, with one good take-off.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

I removed the driver's seat, and peeled the seatback cover off. Not Easy. The hardest part was unclipping the plastic hooks that pull the cover (via heavy wire sewn into the cover) back against the pad and springs. (I also broke the plastic headrest sockets, as I couldn't see how to get them to release.) The broken seat heater seems to start with a fine braided copper wire, looking something like solder wick, molded into the foam, which morphs at some point to a thin (30+ gauge) blue insulated ultra-fine tinned copper stranded wire that weaves throughout the foam in the back. (The blue insulation is thin and tough, reminding me of wire-wrap wire rather than the usual soft PVC.) Peeling back the bolster where the cut in the leather was, I could see where the wire was broken in that area. Only one side had continuity to one of the terminals, which means there is more than one break. Great.

The design is bad. While the serpentine wire is closer to the human body, and thus can provide heat quicker and over a larger area than the older separate heating pads, it's very vulnerable to damage, and a poor design choice for long-term reliability. I think that only the W210 used this kind of design, and they went back to separate pads in subsequent models. I think that if they'd used wire of twice the gauge, and twice the length, that it would have held up to the physical stress much better.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

I chased the wire around the offending outboard bolster, using a razor blade to cut through the felt and into the foam, working the wire out of the pad, and found all the breaks. Cutting out the bad spot and soldering the ends together works well. I had one break to repair, and one accidental cut. After that the whole panel had continuity, and seemed to heat well when hooked to the (larger) bench power supply. I'm running a 5A test current. I used duct tape to secure the wire back into the pad.

While it was 'burning in', I turned the seat cover inside out at the tear (that was over the heater break) and got the lips of the tear closed up. I used duct tape to secure the face into position, then cut a piece of chamois cloth (leather-like, tough, water tolerant) to cover the tear. I used black weatherstrip cement to cover the chamois, then pressed it into place over the tear on the back side. I then sandwiched the repair between two small anvils to press it flat while the glue dried.

During all this the current through the heater became intermittent, chopping in and out, and gradually getting worse. Arcing? Eventually it failed altogether. Not Good! This does not bode well for a semi-permanent repair.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The tear repair looks pretty good, I guess we'll see how (if?) it holds up with time. There is a worse tear at the piping of the side seam that I still have to figure out what to do with.

I began chasing down the new break in the heater. The problem lay between the two repairs of yesterday, in the high-stress bolster, so I began cutting more wire out of the pad between them. I eventually found a slightly discolored place that seemed to be the new break. I cut it out and stripped back the ends and soldered them. (The wire is embedded in a wavy pattern, so it's easy to get a little slack to work with.) Once repaired I could again apply the 5A burn-in current, we'll let it cook for the day.

I then tucked the heating wire back into the channels in the foam and used little strips of duct tape to tack the channels back closed. A layer of duct tape over the whole thing completes the repair. I then turned on the current for another burn-in.

Next is to see what I can do about the other tear in the upholstery, where the seam failed at the outside piping. I used black weatherstrip adhesive to tack it closed, using small spring clamps to secure it while it dried. This is only a tack step, I plan to secure it from behind somehow.

...by late afternoon it looked like the current was beginning to fluctuate again, and by evening it had burned out again. Still not done!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Road trip tomorrow, and the seat isn't done. I stole the driver's seat from Barney and put it in (temporarily). It doesn't take long to do this. The seat heater even seems to work!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Yesterday and today I got back on to the seat repair, and got the tears mended. I glued more chamois across the seam tear, and clamped it into place. In several sessions, in order to get it well secured on one side before gluing it across the split seam. It looks pretty good, and I hope it will be strong.

The next seat heater repair promises to be unpleasant, continuity tests show the latest break is not where the other ones were.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

I ordered a replacement hood star, $16.74 from China, Inc. Probably will take a month to get here.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The hood star came Saturday, and I installed it today. It's really easy to do, just a 90-degree twist lock on the base. The star looks good, not flimsy or anything. The base mechanism is slightly less robust looking than the original, but not likely to be any kind of problem.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The rear cupholder was sticky enough that almost breaking force seemed to be necessary to get it to extend the first time we used it on Thursday. I figured out how to remove it (pull it all the way out, exposing the first-aid kit tray, then flex the center bottom of the tray upwards to release the catches and pull it the rest of the way out). I could then give it a warm soapy bath to remove all the spilled residue.

On a roll, I then liberated the fancy front cupholder. It had gotten to the point where it would not stay down. Only some modest pulling was necessary to get it out, whereupon it got the same soapy bath treatment. That freed up its catch mechanism. I then mopped out the well, getting a lot of spilled residue out as well as some corn chips. (Ugh.) The door cover seems to be working better now, too. At this point they both work about as well as could be expected.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

I ordered an open-box Curt 11744 hitch, for use with a bike rack. $140 with tax via eBay.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

I ordered a used, lightweight, 2-bike carrier for a 1¼" receiver, via Amazon—$38.35 with tax and (free) shipping. That should work better on the car than our heavier carrier, which would also need an adapter to neck down the stinger.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Daniel and I installed the hitch and bike carrier today. That was not particularly easy. Steps:
  1. Remove trunk interior lining, both sides and back. Many pop-out plastic wedge clamps, screws, etc.
  2. Remove bumper cover. 6 screws and 3 nuts.
  3. Locate hitch, mark hole centers, drill 8 holes. Paint hole edges to prevent rust.
  4. Bolt on hitch.
  5. Put back bumper cover.
  6. Put back trunk lining.
Complications were numerous:
  1. The online instructions we found for bumper removal were totally inadequate. Only 3 nuts my ass.
  2. The plastic pieces had been broken in places already, presumably by earlier ham-handed mechanicking, and maybe a parking curb incident on the back. Had to do some cleaning and gluing. Shoe Goo, my favorite!
  3. The CD changer in the trunk had gotten flooded due to a clogged drain in its side well. It was rusty, and is unlikely ever to work again. One of the 3 wires to its rusted electrical plug (there is also a 2-fiber optical plug) is broken. I removed it, for now. We also vacuumed out the drain holes.
  4. The open-box hitch was missing its mounting hardware. I dropped about $15 at Ace for sufficient Grade 8 fasteners.
  5. The bumper cover was not clipped into one of the big guides on one side.
  6. The bumper cover is composed of several parts clipped together, and many of these clip connections were not seated correctly.
  7. We couldn't get the bolts to start on one side of the bumper cover. Ended up having to take it all back apart and start over.
  8. We ended up short some plastic wedge clamps. Junkyard?
  9. One of the brake lights went out. Bad connection.
  10. Had to remove the 2" adapter from the bike rack.
  11. The first-aid kit that was stashed in the trunk wouldn't quite fit into the rear armrest tray where it belonged. I re-packed it a bit and now it fits in the tray.
The instructions from Curt call this an 80-minute job. We were at it probably 5 hours, not counting our late lunch break while we let the glue dry.

The trunk lid barely clears the rack, so it may be that we don't really need its lowering swing-away feature. Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Yesterday we bought oil change supplies at Wal-Mart. $42-odd for 2 5-quart jugs of 5W30 semi-synthetic and a Mobil 1 M1C-253A filter. The oil was pretty black and glucky, it was long past time to change it. I used the vacuum sucker, only a hair over 5 quarts came out. (It had been complaining about low oil, but I didn't want to top it off right before a change.) The old filter looked pretty deformed, it was clearly long past its sell-by date. The O-rings on the plastic filter stem were rock-hard, so I replaced them all (four) with the ones that came with the filter. I put in 8 quarts of oil, and put the other two in the trunk for top-offs. You don't have to pull off the plastic engine cover to do this job, but it makes it easier if you do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Snow tire day. Also added more oil, it has an appetite. (I bought another jug of 5W-30 yesterday.)

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Car broke down on the freeway, on the trip to pick up Daniel from college in Missoula. We were able to limp into Haugen, MT. The belt tensioner idler pulley seized, and burned the belt off the car. Without the alternator the engine only ran for a few minutes. (Without the water pump, maybe it shouldn't have been run that long? Temp gauge never climbed.) We were able to get safely off the (snowing, and very hazardous) freeway under our own power, so that's good. The dash lights were dimming and it started misfiring, barely running at an idle speed, but it kept pushing us so that we could actually take the freeway exit and park the car safely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The recovery went flawlessly. We drove over in the V10, dug out the car, put on the jumper cables while we worked, and installed the 'new' belt and pulley. (Chunks of the old bearing fell out when I removed the old idler from the car. The tensioner action felt very good, not stiff like the one on Barney.) Checking all the belt-driven accessories by hand, the water pump was very stiff, which is not a good sign. It's probably ready to fail too. So, I used the old belt from Barney, rather than risk the brand-new belt, just in case it did it again. (I had a tow rope along, too, just in case.)

The engine started easily, but was a little squeaky. (Water pump?) Regardless, we hopped in our vehicles and drove the 100 miles back home, no incidents.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Checking the water pump at home, it's still stiff. Doesn't feel 'notchy' like a bad bearing, it's a straight grinding stiffness, perhaps like the drive flange is contacting the face of the housing. Regardless, it's defective and needs replacement.

It has been suggested that the suspiciously-short driving time after the belt broke might be due to the battery being old and tired.

I checked my options, and decided to buy the NAPA water pump, which could be picked up tomorrow. More money, but the car would be drivable that much sooner. Total was $113.25, with tax and online 20% discount.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Jill picked up the water pump. Daniel and I installed the water pump. That was straightforward, but time-consuming. We put the car up on ramps so we could drain the coolant out of the radiator petcock. The drained coolant, just over 2 gallons, was green-black, I decided not to reuse it. The spidery pump is held on with numerous E-Torx bolts, in different sizes and lengths. A real PITA.

Once the pump was off the car the problem was obvious, especially when comparing the two pumps. The shaft had worked inwards, allowing the steel impeller to start milling a hole in the front of the aluminum engine block. The pulley edge had also started cutting a groove in the main hose neck. The old pump was not leaking, nor were its bearings going bad. The geometry had simply slipped, you could see that the drive flange was a bit out of plane, so it was the shaft-to-bearing-race mating surfaces that had slipped out of position, and not impeller-to-shaft or flange-to-shaft contacts.

The new Saleri pump, of course, did not have this problem. It came with two gaskets, we used the formed O-ring style gasket rather than the flat paper gasket. The only concern is that the milled divot in the engine block might reduce the pumping efficiency, but there's next to nothing that can be done about that, short of replacing the block (!) or troweling JB-Weld into the divot and filing it flat. We'll try it as-is first.

While the car was in the air I checked out the intermittent right-hand fog light. The connector was burnt, but not the bulb's tab. New bulb? I squeezed the connector to make a tighter connection and used De-Ox-It on it. I also found that the connector on the exterior of the housing was also going bad. I scraped/spread its connections as best I could, and worked some stiff square-profile LED lead wire into the sockets to tighten up the contact. And some De-Ox-It. With all of that fooling around the connection seemed to be reliable again, giving us both fog lights.

I also had Daniel work some bearing grease into the dry-sounding idler, the one not on the tensioner. These are cheap and easy to replace, unlike the tensioner idler. I'll do it at a later time, when I figure out how to properly replace the bearings in the old idler.

We could only get half of the necessary replacement G-05 coolant back into the engine. There was obviously an air bubble, and the heat did not work. I got the engine heated up on a test drive, and parked it nose up while it cooled. After a few hours this way, after dark and with the snow starting, I moved it back into the garage. The car then complained about low coolant, so the air bubble had been mostly eliminated.

Friday, December 24, 2021

I added the rest of the coolant in two more burping steps today. Jill drove the car to an evening gig, and all was well.

All that's left to do is to repair the original idler pulley, if I can. I belive that it has to be repaired by drilling out the rivets that hold the two halves together, and removing the bearing remains from the insides. (Attempts to drive it out from either side were abject failures.) Short screws (and plenty of thread locker!) can be used to put it back together.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Yesterday I got the rivets out of the idler pulley, and the bearing shell popped right out from the inside. (Grind off the thin side of the rivets, carefully, and drive the bodies out with a punch.) Today I bought a bearing, $14, and some #10-32 bolts, $4. I think this'll work. Brown Bearing no longer takes cash, and has a $25 minimum charge. I'll have to rethink using them in future, I was not impressed.

The bearing is a Nachi 6203 2NSE9 C3, its specifications are 17mm bore, 40mm OD, 12mm wide.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Daniel called from his job interview, the car wouldn't start afterwards. I threw tools and jumper cables in the truck and went to the rescue. The voltmeter showed only 12V on the resting battery, and it dropped to about 11.6V when the door was opened. Bad sign! Hitting the key to start showed it drop below 10V, which explained why it didn't even try to run the starter motor. I used jumper cables to give the car a bit of charge, and it then started. The running voltage was around 14V, which is good. Bad battery? After charging a bit I stopped the car and put the load tester on, and the battery could only put out maybe 300A for a second or so before the voltage dropped precipitously. There was no date code on the AC Delco Group 49 battery, so who knows how old it is. It's at least 3 years old, as that's how long we've had the car. A weak battery would certainly explain why the car ran for so little after it threw the belt.

We made some calls, and eventually, after much screwing around, we determined that Home Depot (in Liberty Lake) had an H8/L5/Group 49 battery in stock, at $129, much less than other potential sources. ($140.48 with tax.) We drove there directly and bought one. I put the jumper cables on (to preserve system voltage) and removed the old battery and installed the new one. This is fairly easy to do, though it being under the rear seat is odd. A post-replacement load test (after the nice drive to Home Depot) was just as pathetic as before. I then returned the dead battery for the $12 core.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The new (cheap) idler wheel arrived today. $5.60 from FCP Euro.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

We dropped the car off at A&B Motors, to get the other front axle replaced. (It had been 'grunching' badly for awhile, but we didn't want to take one of our few practical 4wd vehicles out of service during the snow season.)

Friday, March 18, 2022

$549.79 This is more than the $487.33 it was last time.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Found some Rain-X at the thrift shop for $2. IIRC this stuff works great. Jill's going cross-State, so I put some on her car this morning. We'll see...

Monday, August 1, 2022

Yesterday Jill complained of bad brake noises, and a wonky feeling in the rear. I drove the car, and it definitely was metal-on-metal, not just a rock caught in the brakes. I grounded the car.

Today Daniel and I jacked up the offending side of the car, and examined the brake pads front and back. The front still had some decent life left, but there was no material at all on the inner pad on the back. Time for rear brakes! The inner surface of the rotor was pretty badly scored, but I believe still usable.

We bought pads at NAPA, $50.95 for the four. (Sufficient for the rear brakes.) We replaced the rears, the job was pretty textbook and we were done in an hour. The big C clamp had no problem pushing the caliper pucks back in, that's usually the sticking point on this job.

After the test drive all seemed normal again. Cleared to go, babe.

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