Car project (entry 4 of 4)

By kate on February 22nd, 2010

(mouse over pictures for captions and click for bigger versions)

After taking a weekend off of the project, we were back at it on another Sunday, Reassembling the suspensioncautiously hoping to be able to turn the car on by the end of the day. We put on all the stuff we’d had to disconnect (driveshafts, suspension, exhaust, radiator) and plugged in all the clips and hoses again.

After pouring in the fluids, we arrived at the Moment of Truth. I got in the car and turned the key to accessory power. So far, so good. I turned the key again and there was a kind of popping noise as it started to turn over. This spooked us, so I turned off the engine. We consulted our reference materials and all we could find was some advice that the engine wouldn’t start or run smoothly at first, so I got back in and tried again.

Engine, all back together

This time, the engine started up pretty quickly, and actually ran! There were no obvious problems that we could see or hear. It was a joyous moment, one I’d hoped for but never let myself really expect. My grin was a mile wide.

Successful mechanic!At that point, it was late and we were tired, but we pushed through the last hour of work (putting on wheels and hood, mostly) so we could actually drive the car out of the garage that night. I was giddy as I pulled it out and parked it on the street.

The next morning, I took it to a mechanic for a few adjustments that required special tools we didn’t have (timing light, belt tension measurement). The mechanic found one small issue (an extra washer causing a fuel leak), but otherwise praised our work. The one-hour minimum of shop time was plenty to get everything adjusted, and I drove the car away afterward, running smoothly.

Even after five and a half days in the garage slogging through this project, I’m not tired of working on my car. I enjoy the measured pace of engine disassembly and reassembly, and wouldn’t mind doing it again. I’m already building a list of possible next projects:

  • fix non-working driver side speaker wiring
  • add windshield wiper fluid reservoir (mysteriously missing)
  • fix air conditioning system
  • look into adding power door locks
  • troll junkyards for missing trim pieces

My car will never look fancy (it’s a banged-up ’92 Civic, after all), but I’m developing a real sense of pride in it. It’s a great feeling to drive around in a car whose engine I now know so thoroughly.

I'll be back in here soon enough.

Filed under: handiwork, learning
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