2003-11-01

Preventive Maintenance

I wanted a house mostly for the garage because I wanted a place for projects like working on the car. Periodic maintenance, oil changes, tire rotations, air filter changes, are small easy things that I should do myself.

Both cars needed to have the air filters changed, and I need an oil change, so I thought now was the time to start doing all this maintenance myself.

This is where Just-My-Luck (JML), rears its ugly head. JML is not the same as Murphy’s Law. Murphy says that if something can go wrong it will. Say you need to drive your wife to the hospital to have a baby. Murphy’s Law says if your low on gas you will run out during this trip. JML, on the other hand, says, you’ll go out to the car and break the ignition key off in the gas cap when you were trying to remove the bubble gum that stuck to it last week when you drove by that school bus. See with JML, the things that happen to you will be bizarre, twisted and seemingly unrelated.

The master of JML, or the unluckiest man alive, depending on how you look at it, is Big Fred. He can go to use the weed-eater around the fence line and get sidetracked replacing the carburetor on the lawn tractor. What does the lawn tractor have to do with the weed-eater, you ask? Absolutely nothing, that is just the way JML works.

My trip to mechanic land caused a bit of JML of my own. I purchased supplies on Friday: 2 air filters, and an oil filter. While I was looking for the part number of the air filter at Pep Boy’s, I noticed that they also had cabin air filters for both the Civic and the Focus. Since I had’t changed those either, I thought now would be a good time. Pep Boy’s only had one of the cabin filters in stock, so I got the other supplies and then traveled to Van’s to get filters.

Saturday night, after the game, Hailey and Brianna both went to sleep so I decide to go change the filters. This should be easy. I open my glove compartment and pull out the old cabin air filter and then open the box for my new cabin air filter. I either have the wrong filter or the part book has the wrong part number, either way this wont work.. I go to do Brianna’s car, but I can’t find any mention of the cabin air filter in the owner’s manual. I go look on-line and find that it is located under the cowl in front of the windshield. This is only accessible from the engine compartment. Not as easy as mine, but shouldn’t be a problem either. I finally get the cowling off, and go to remove the old filter, but there isn’t an old filter. I go back on-line and find out that when Ford imported the car from Europe, they got cheap and didn’t included the cabin air filter. There is a space for it so I can go ahead and install my new filter. This is where I’m told that I shouldn’t completely remove the cowl, I should just pry it back a little, because of the difficulty reattaching the rear snaps.. Too late. After some difficulty I finally get the cowling back on, but not before I activate the panic button for the car alarm. The loudly honking horn and flashing lights were caused by brushing the remote against the fender in just the right way to make the fender push the panic button. I struggled to get the keys out of my pocket and silence the horn, then I had to go inside and convince the dog that there was no one outside trying to get inside to harm the family. With the horn honking, and the dog barking, I thought Hailey and Brianna would both be awake now. Luckily, both were still sleeping.

The engine air filter was painless compared to the cabin air filter. Remove four screws, replace air filter, tighten four screws. It would be nice if you didn’t need a screwdriver to change the air filter, remember the good ol’days? But I can live with this.

I also decided to clean Brianna’s battery terminals. Good thing, the positive terminal had some corrosion but it cleaned off easily.

I wanted to get things ready for my car now so I could go get oil in the morning and get finished by 8:30 or 9:00. I have my oil filter, and my drain pan but I can’t find my oil filter wrench. So I can’t change the oil. Sure I could crawl under the car and undo the filter with my bare hands if I was Superman, but I’m not, so I wont even try this time. I’m glad that I noticed tonight instead of tomorrow after I have the car all jacked up.

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