Commuting Complications.

Two days before getting a new job which is twice as far of a drive as before and of course my bird breaks down. In its defense, though, this is the first time it has ever stranded me, so that’s pretty good really. And being so close to home it hardly felt like being stranded. I could have walked home. On the half hour drive, I made it to 1.5 miles from home before it ground to a halt when getting off the highway. I did a very quick look around and didn’t see anything wrong; it would turn over, the battery wasn’t dead, and so on. So I triple A’d it home. I figured initially it might either be another crank position sensor or  the coil pack/ignition module. After testing those, I took a better look around and noticed a tooth was missing off the timing belt. A closer look revealed that the rest of the teeth were not far behind and it had sheared them all around the crank sprocket. That’s all well and good, but I wasn’t sure why … I didn’t think the belt was that old. It appears that the tensioner had frozen, making the belt loose, and it just vibrated itself to death. I threw on a used tensioner and belt from the spare parts reserves and was all good to go.

On a side note, I think things like this are swaying me to remaining 8 valve. I’ve kicked around the 16v swap idea before, but had this happened to a 16v head, valves would probably have met pistons in an unfriendly encounter, and I would now have a big project ahead of me and a down and out daily driver as opposed to a fifteen minute project and then making an hour commute the next day…

Fast forward a few days to today and I’m leaving work. I’ve been making the hour drive no problem all week except for the nasty snowstorm that slowed things to a crawl and reduced visibility to nothing (note to self, please get new wipers asap.) Now there’s a horrendous vibrating rattling banging sound as I’m driving. My mind jumps to the worst case scenarios first, naturally. Broken axle, total transmission failure, and so on. I had to pull over to check out what was going on. I took a look underneath and pushed on the exhaust a little. The whole thing twisted and moved and the resonator (where cat was) was hitting the heat shield and making the racket. Looking back to the muffler area revealed the problem: the bolts to the exhaust hanger had sheared, likely due to bad roads. The entire exhaust was hanging by just the two studs in the exhaust manifold up front! It seemed to stay up and not drag, so I figured I’d go for it and see how it fared for 50+ miles. It made some noise but made it home no problem. Once home, I welded the bracket in place instead of messing with bolts. So we’ll see how it fares with the pot holes tomorrow!

Well those are all of my bird-punishing commuting adventures for now. I’m hoping for not too much drama for a while. At least through the rest of the winter would be nice, but that’s probably asking a lot.

bad belt

bad belt

3 Responses to “Commuting Complications.”

  1. Michael says:

    What fun adventures! Glad you were able to the bird back up and running quickly. You should get a Hyundai Accent from 2004. Those run forever!

  2. Drivesa5 Drivesa5 says:

    Yeah, the fun is almost too much to handle!
    I heard I might be getting a free one someday 🙂 haha.

  3. wxroz says:

    Oh man, I love this post!

    First, interesting that this latest escapade has made you decide to want to stick with the 8 valve. I didn’t know you’d been thinking that. But, I’m all about original 2.0 bird power!

    Second, ah the bird breakdown! Bird belt problems: classic. For me, it was the water pump, but still belt related. However, when this happened to me, at least, like yours, my bird also had the decency to crap out right before an exit ramp.

    Third, I’m glad your exhaust stayed on. Instead of like my bird thinking it would be cool to lose the entire muffler altogether in PA, and let me drive the 8 hours from PA to NH with no exhaust. Birds are LOUD. You’d think it was a v8 or something.

    Fourth, I wish I could still find those awesome winter wipers I used to have… nothing better.

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