Sunday, September 30, 2007

On The Road Again

I've had my Camaro for about 10 years. It's only a V6 but it's a stick shift and has an aftermarket spoiler on the back so it looks like it has more balls than it really does. It used to sound that way too until I moved up here to the bEast coast and the rust got to the muffler. The original muffler had a deep throaty rumble, but the second one was a run-of-the-mill Midas (as is the third). It's sounded castrated to me ever since, but someday I'll restore it to the extreme coolness that originally made me swoon at the dealership.

I'll tell you what's the best thing about this car though: I know how to change parts under the hood. I'm not such a grease monkey that I want to don coveralls and slide underneath, but my grandfather taught me how to fix a few simple things. It's fortunate that Chevys have big enough noses that everything is pretty reachable in the engine, unlike the foreign cars which are packed tighter than jeans from Hot Topic.

Grandpa always said it must've been built on a Wednesday because it hasn't had too many problems (knock on wood). A couple years ago though I had trouble with a mechanic that broke the IAC valve when he was replacing another part. He "fixed" it by putting a zip tie on it to hold the broken part in place. It worked, but c'mon - a zip tie? In a hot engine? Do the laws of physics mean anything to you?

He said it would be $130 to change the valve (even though he broke it!), so I asked him to show me what it was exactly. I think he wasn't counting on a girl that's not afraid of a little dirt. I bought the part myself for $70, undid the two bolts that held the old one to the top of the engine, bolted the new one on in its place and it's run fine ever since. Took me about 5 minutes.

Last summer I also dismantled the dash, removed the stereo head unit and installed a wire in the back so I have a direct hookup for my iPod. Works like a charm. During that process I had to get something from Radio Shack. The salesman and I got into a conversation about what I was doing and he finally asked me, "Do you intimidate your boyfriend?"

The most recent problem has been the battery. I let it sit in the garage for too long last year and it killed the battery completely. Gives new meaning to "like a rock" when you turn the key and nothing happens. I bought a new battery a month ago, but it was having trouble holding a charge. I thought it might be something electrical draining the battery, but our new mechanic thought maybe the new battery was just a bad one, so tonight I disconnected it (for the second time), hauled it back to Walmart to exchange for another one, and installed the new one (again) all by myself. Once everything was tightened up, I got behind the wheel and turned the key and sure enough it fired right up. That is one of the most satisfying sounds ever: hearing the engine turn over after you've been messing around under the hood. Now we'll see if it still feels like starting tomorrow morning. Gotta love a Chevy.

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