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 Post subject: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 1:09 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 7688
Location: Litchfield Minnesota USA
I think I just finished writing a new book! It is a story though.

Bringing back a few posts I've made here on cars in a different perspective, it all seems to tangle together somewhat.

Back in early December my wife hit a deer. The car is a 2008 Cadillac STS-4 with every possible option for that year, including heated steering wheel and active cruise control and everything else anyone can think of.
It's at the body shop being repaired. SLOWLY. It turns out that this car is one of maybe three or thirty, not many, that have some of the options.
Active cruise control, for instance. There are a LOT of Cadillac STS-4's in the salvage yards around the country. The radar unit for the active cruise control had some mounting parts broken. The radar itself is unharmed. GM will NOT sell the small mounting pieces separately. You need to buy the whole kit and caboodle to the tune of $1800. That one thing can put the cost of repair beyond what the insurance company will pay, so it would be a total loss. We could buy it back and repair it with a salvage title, but I don't like blemished titles. I'm paying myself for a few of these items to keep it below the magic number of the insurance company.
All of this because there is not ONE complete active cruise control for that car in a salvage yard anywhere in the country!

The hood! One would think the hoods on all STS's of that year and matching years would all fit, right?
Nope. They look identical. They even fit the opening just fine. But the typical STS, even STS-4, has a different hood. It doesn't close because it hits a huge aluminum tie bar that crosses between the two shock towers to keep the car rigid in hard cornering. Most STS's don't have that.
Fortunately, there was an STS-4 in a salvage yard in Sauk Centre, a town about an hours drive from here. Sauk Centre, by the way, is the town where Sinclair Lewis wrote his famous book about. It's just another Midwestern town to me.
The hood was from an STS-4, so there was a chance that it would be the right hood, even though this STS-4 has a V6, not the V8. (why would anyone buy a car with an anemic 6 cylinder engine when for a few bucks more you can have a V8 that has a bit of torque?)
Anyway, I went up there and lo and behold the hood IS the right one. (He had ordered a hood from a car somewhere out of state, but it was the wrong one - It will be returned)
So, I drove up there yesterday and picked it up.
I made great time getting there, all was well, I picked up the hood (helped the yard guy get it off and carried it up to the Suburban, stuffed it in and away I went. Since I had gotten there before closing time because I drove really fast (Faster even then typical) I decided to just take it easy going home. Kept it below 10 mph over the limit.
Shortly after turning off Hwy 55 onto C.R. 34 all was still well until I heard this big BANG from the Suburban. Hmmm, what could that be? Everything was going fine, but a scan of the 'gauges' showed a red glowing Alternator light ON, temperature climbing sort of rapidly. Oil pressure normal.
Hmmm, that's right! Back in December I noticed that the pulley on the tensioner for the accessory drive belt was making quite a bit of noise.
But my wife has been driving it while her car is being fixed.
I forgot all about it.
It took a LONG time for me to get home. I drove until it was about to over heat. I pulled over, stopped and let it cool. Fired it up and got up to speed, shoved it into neutral and let it coast until it was about to stop, pulled over, let it cool down, then did the same routine again. I did this all the way home, about 15 miles.
This morning I drove into town in my 2000 ETC to pick up a new belt. I had long since purchased the pulley, just forgot to put it on. The belt was damaged when the pulley bearing seized, causing the pulley to rip itself off the bearing. The bearing also separated from everything else and landed in the fan shroud below the radiator. I think that bang I heard was the bearing (or the pulley itself) hitting the fan. Fan doesn't seem damaged.
So I had to buy a new accessory drive belt.
I drove into town to get it. The car started fine. It still does. But since I don't drive it daily it has a battery maintainer on it all the time it's not going somewhere.
When I pulled the battery maintainer off the battery to go to town, I noticed that it was still trying to bring the battery up to its proper voltage. It's been days!
It turns out that the Optima battery in that car is getting old. It should last longer, I will keep using it until it won't work at all. It still starts the car in cold air, It's just maybe a volt or so down. I'm a bit disappointed. I bought that battery brand new in November of 1997 and it's already starting to die.
It seems as though all these things just came together so that three of my cars have issues that intertwine with each other.
The Suburban is fixed and I'm just happy it didn't happen with my wife driving it because she would just keep driving until the engine seized, not knowing something was wrong.

Mark D.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 2:34 am 
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Joined: Apr Mon 04, 2011 4:23 am
Posts: 598
Location: SW PA
Gotta love when everything takes a dump right at the same time. :roll:

A few years back, right before my mom got home from work, the water pump started leaking badly in the Blazer she was driving. I told her no problem. Drive my vehicle to work, and I'd drive the Blazer to the shop where I worked close by, and I'd fix it after work.

Yeah, right.

She left in my vehicle before I went to leave. I went out and put water in the Blazer, and it wouldn't start. :evil: What the hell!?! She didn't overheat it (so she said). It turned out, the fuel pump took a dump. Less than 16 hours after the water pump did. :? I had to call my boss to come with the flat bed.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 2:45 am 
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Posts: 5381
Your Suburban needed the "camel mode" they put in some of the Northstar production that would bank switch back and forth if there was a major cooling system failure allowing the unused bank to air cool letting the cylinders intake and exhaust air without fuel mixed in. It actually worked quite well and I would rather have that system than the horrific AFM/DoD system they currently use that shuts down cylinders to improve fuel economy. Unlike the original 8/6/4 system used on the older Cadillacs the new system doesn't break itself but it does take out torque converter clutches. My Corvette has a Range module that prevents the AFM system from activating 4 cylinder mode.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 2:48 am 
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Joined: Apr Mon 04, 2011 4:23 am
Posts: 598
Location: SW PA
Mark D wrote:
I'm a bit disappointed. I bought that battery brand new in November of 1997 and it's already starting to die.

1997? Huh?!? :shock:
I assume that is a mistake, correct?


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 3:08 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 26362
Location: Detroit, MI USA
Not necessarily, a very very few batteries somehow manage to last that long. Unfortunately there's no way of knowing exactly *which* one on the shelf is going to have that potential for longevity at the time you buy it.

The DieHard in my daily driver 2001 Grand Marquis was purchased in 2004 for my wife's Windstar, and I pulled it out when she junked that in '07 and put it in the Mercury, it's still working 14 years later. Why, I haven't a clue but I'm pleasantly surprised every time it starts the engine. I even used that car to jump start one we bought at the auto auction last summer which hadn't been driven for two years.

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Experience is what you gain when the results aren't what you were expecting.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 3:33 am 
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Joined: Apr Mon 04, 2011 4:23 am
Posts: 598
Location: SW PA
20 years is pretty exceptional, though.
Out of curiosity, I did some Google searching, and Optima batteries seem to be all over the map in how long they last. A surprising number of folks said they lasted less than a year or two. A lot were said to last 2-8 years. A few 9 or 10 years. And I saw one that said 13 years and one said 16 years. They claim that the newer ones aren't nearly as good as the old ones were. I imagine a lot of them are put in off road/high performance vehicles that see a lot of abuse and/or sitting unused, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 4:14 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 933
Location: Jackson, TN
Hmm, I think Mark D has a little Mark Twain going on there. Good read!


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 7688
Location: Litchfield Minnesota USA
The battery dates are true. It is old enough that the seller (NAPA, Litchfield) picked out the little dots that showed November for the month and 1997 for the year. I have used it in a number of different cars over the years. New it was in a '84 Suburban where I managed to drop a wrench across the top terminals accidentally while working on the Suburban. It melted part of the pos. top lug.
I have had some bad 'luck' with Optima's too. I bought one, it died within a month. They gave me another one and it died just as quickly. I then gave up on Optima and bought the Delco commercial batteries for a year or so. Then went back to Optima and have been happy. I have three others that are all less than ten years old and one that is only three years newer than the one I wright of above.

On the Northstar engines, they ALL can run without coolant. It's built into the design. Early ones were better shielded from heat because of engine oil coolers, but all of them set the fuel mixture to full rich and alternate cylinders so that no cylinder ever hits on every cycle. Basically, it runs as a four cylinder engine but switches to the alternate four cylinders every other cycle. However, my wife's '08 STS-4 does have an oil cooler!! Yet, it hasn't lost its coolant.... yet. G.M. fixed the head gasket problem way back around 2001. It started with around late 1996 engines. Earlier than that were/are bullet proof.
Other, more recent design engines have that feature these days too. It's great thing to have;

When my wife lost all the coolant in her '98 Cadillac coming home from the Twin Cities after dropping our daughter off at the airport she called me and said her heater was blowing cold air. I said, "Look at the temperature gauge. What does it say?" She said it didn't show anything.
I said, "Keep it under 50 and you'll be fine." She was fine. That was just before I dropped the engine out and drilled out all the head bolt holes in the block to take a larger (5/8" X 11) thread instead of the roughly 7/16 dia. fine thread metric thread that was less than an inch length of thread. 2 inches of 5/8 - 11 thread aren't going to let the STUDS (no more bolts) pull out. Never lost coolant again. Never will. Still have it. Not in use currently. Nice car though.

That G.M. imposed 50 mile limit driving with no coolant makes me wonder... Why can't I just stop and let it cool down and then start it up and go another 50 miles? Should work.....

Mark D.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 9:06 pm 
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Mark D wrote:
That G.M. imposed 50 mile limit driving with no coolant makes me wonder... Why can't I just stop and let it cool down and then start it up and go another 50 miles? Should work.....

Mark D.


I think that limit was put into place because of the severe degradation of the oil that occurs during this excessive temperature operation that is likely further degraded by the abnormally rich fuel to air ratio. It probably was also intended to get people to actually fix the problem instead of limiting their driving to short trips :)

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Sun 04, 2018 9:20 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 7688
Location: Litchfield Minnesota USA
rsingl wrote:
Mark D wrote:
That G.M. imposed 50 mile limit driving with no coolant makes me wonder... Why can't I just stop and let it cool down and then start it up and go another 50 miles? Should work.....

Mark D.


I think that limit was put into place because of the severe degradation of the oil that occurs during this excessive temperature operation that is likely further degraded by the abnormally rich fuel to air ratio. It probably was also intended to get people to actually fix the problem instead of limiting their driving to short trips :)

Rodger WQ9E


You are correct. I was just kidding. Since I did heat up that Suburban pretty well the other day I will be changing both the coolant and oil after it gets dark out. Right now I need to go out and cut down a long dead Ash tree to heat the house with.

Mark D.


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 Post subject: Re: Automobile Woe's
PostPosted: Feb Mon 05, 2018 5:49 am 
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Joined: Jul Thu 29, 2010 5:35 am
Posts: 926
Location: Simonton, Texas
I had an Optima which lasted 8 years. I was happy with that.

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