13th Jun 2011, 10:11

Update June 13, 2011.

Driving on snow, my youngster kissed a curb with the front right wheel and bent a rim. I decided to buy a pair of used rims and shoe them with new tires: BF Goodrich Touring at Sam’s Club. The steering is a little off.

Jan: noisy front end. The new left sway bar link came loose. That means I am no pro in auto mechanics. I had trouble tightening it because the flats on the moog style sway bar link slipped through my wrenches. I replaced them again this time with Raybestos service grade links (RockAuto.com). These match the original in that they have a hole for an Allan wrench. This time I got it right. While I was there, I replaced the outer tie rod ends (Deeza). I am waiting for better weather to align the front end with the string and ruler method.

Since the weather has warmed up, I tried to get the lock nut to move, but it won’t budge. In the worst case I need an inner tie rod end as well.

CEL: fuel trim malfunction: replaced vacuum hose on the fuel pressure regulator, the only one I hadn’t replaced yet. CEL has not returned yet.

Blower fan did not work in all speed settings, so I replaced the blower resistor. That was wasted money because it still did not work in all speeds. Spraying Electronic Cleaner into the switch made it work in all speeds, but only ascending, not descending. In other words: I have to turn it to “off” then move up to the speed I want. I am suspecting the switch is bad.

Left rear brake dragged after applying the E-brake. The cable or the E-brake lever inside the drum were sticking. The boy can’t keep his hands off the E-brake. I have redone the E-brake mechanism inside the drum and loosened the E-brake handle a few turns. Everything works fine.

Meanwhile it is June, and we had the first heat wave. Air conditioning would be really nice. I ordered a new A/C clutch bearing and watched a U-tube video on how to exchange it. The A/C compressor is accessible from under the car after removing the right side wheel and the underside splash guards. There is no need to evacuate the refrigerant. I replaced both drive belts and now we have A/C again. The clutch bearing was $18 (internet), the belts were $8 and $9 at O’Reilley’s.

I sent the boy to check the tire pressure. So much for the boys helping with maintenance! We are at 160000+ miles.

14th Jun 2011, 08:56

Thanks for your suggestion. I will keep it in mind. I know when you read this thread, you think I have nothing but trouble, but that is not the case. At this time drivability is excellent, and I thoroughly enjoy the vehicle. I am also a tiny bit proud of having it fixed myself.

4th Jun 2012, 11:53

Update, June 4, 2012

162000 miles. The older boy is in college, and used the Mazda for commuting to the soccer training facility, and weekend trips to come home.

The e-brake failed to release again. This time I decided to look at the cables. I found the equalizer affected by corrosion. A shot with PB blaster loosened it up. I lubed it well with Sil-glyde. After putting it back together, it still didn’t release. I took the drum brakes apart, cleaned them and lubed what needed to be lubed. There we go: it works. However, it appears that I used the wrong kind of lube. Caliper grease is not suitable for drum brakes, because it attracts the brake dust. I have to switch to dry lube products. White Lightning or motorcycle chain lube, graphite and anti-seize compound have been recommended. I’ll fix it next time he comes home.

CEL was on again: P0421: Catalytic converter lacking warm up efficiency. I had that one 2 years ago. I pulled vacuum hose for the EGR boost sensor from the intake manifold and poked in there with a wire to unclog it. But it didn’t help this time. P0421 should be spelled: “P)$@!” This is a downstream O2 sensor code. Vacuum leaks on the intake side, fouled plugs, bad cat and bad downstream O2 sensor could be triggers. There is a good chance to waste $$. Therefore I won’t fix it.

The youngster told me that “the brakes drag again, seriously!” He said it wasn’t the E-brake, but that he had a hard brake, and after that it dragged again. It must be hydraulic. I googled for dragging brakes and found this explanation: The flex hose may have deteriorated internally. As you apply the brake, you create enough pressure to expand the brake shoes, but the return springs are not strong enough to push the brake fluid back. Therefore the brake drags.

It makes totally sense to me. Two years ago I replaced the fluid and it was really dark. Possibly it has never been replaced before, and that can’t be good for the rubber parts.

When the youngster was home, I checked the brakes and could not find a fault with them. But I did find a loose plastic splash shield at the driver’s side. It was bent up into the suspension and touched the drive shaft. I am sure it made a heck of a noise. Most likely that is what my boy confused with dragging brakes. (Note to dad: don’t order parts before you diagnose yourself!). I replaced the splash shield with one from the junk yard.

He had an incident that broke the turn signal lens. The junk yard had a headlight assembly for $20.

Changed oil: it was really dirty but I had some “Seafoam” in it, which may have removed old sludge.

I treated underbody rust with “Strong Arm Sprays”, an anti-rust snake oil. The rust is also eating the rocker panels and rear wheel arches.

There is noise coming from the A/C compressor clutch. The rubber bushings failed.

166000 miles. Tested battery (8 year old Interstate) and it failed ($110 at Advance Auto).

Oil is low, not even a drop on the dip stick. I topped it off with 1 ½ qt. and had a dad-son talk. It is over-due for an oil change, but I had no time. Boy showed some gratitude, he cleaned the car’s interior.

I created an oil change bucket by cutting one side half ways off. This engine has a horizontally oriented oil drain, and the oil shoots out straight back. Now the oil hits the back wall of that bucket, and I save on oil dry.

Summer 2012: boy took the car to go camping with 3 friends. Before that I needed to check things out. It ran nice except for the clunking noise from the A/C clutch. I put on the bypass belt, and off to the Rockies they went. The returned without problems.

170000 miles. New rear tires. The ones I bought used developed belt separation and dry rot, but lasted almost 30K miles. And that’s OK.

The car runs great and I haven’t even looked at the timing belt, the valve clearance and engine coolant condition yet. It uses one quart of oil between the changes.