Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Mercury Medicare

I've taken to calling The Grand Marquis that, because only old men drive them, but I love mine.  I've talked about it before, it's an '01 with 104K miles on it, with a new timing gear, chains, etc installed at 96K.  Upper and lower ball joints last month, and I was driving it to work yesterday and noticed a miss in the engine, just about the time the Check Engine Light came on.

Well, crap.

The last time I had that problem, my very competent mechanic son showed me how to diagnose and change the coil pack and spark plug on the engine.  It's much different than I used to do that "back in the day" but it's not particularly hard, so after I plugged int he ODBII code reader and learned that the misfire was on #1, I stopped by the parts house and picked up a new coil pack.

When I got home this afternoon, I lifted the hood to let the engine cool, then went inside to let the dog out for his afternoon constitutional, then took out the tools and dove in.  Thirty minutes later I was done.  The engine idles well, and seems smooth, so we'll call that job done.  It took me longer to figure out how to turn off the CEL light than it did to change the parts.

I still remember the Points, Plugs, Conderser drill that my dad taught me all those years ago.  How to set the points, and adjust timing; how to listen to an engine and try to figure out which cylinder was missing, and how to say "to hell with it" and change all the spark plugs.

Nowadays, it's different.  We plug in the code reader and work on the problem that it identifies.  ODBII code readers are available at a wide price range and I won't pretend to tell you which to buy, but nowadays they are indispensable for working on cars.  They sure take the guess-work out of diagnosis.

Thanks, son, for the tutorial those months ago.  The old man thinks he got it right today.  If I need you, I'll call you.


Matt said...

Good job Pop. I'm sure you did just fine. See ya soon!

Old NFO said...

Ah yes, Points, Plugs, Condenser... I still HAVE all the tools to do that... sigh... Today? Call the damn dealer to come get the car...GRRRR

Jerry The Geek said...

Ah, the great American "Man As A Mechanic" Syndrome.

I remember back when I was rich and famous and driving a Porsche ... got stuck behind a gravel truck going from Oregon to California during Christmas season, and a rock put a ding in my windshield.

So what did I do when I got home, and learned from my Porsche Dealer's Mechanic that it would cost $2,500 to replace the windshield? (Which was almost 10% of the purchase price!)

Why, I told him to find a cheaper price!

Funny, the new windshield cost $250, including parts AND labor.

Those of us who are not mechanically inclined; I'm not one of them.

Oh ... and I got rid of the Porsche and bought a Ford.

Titan Mk6B said...

Not only do I still have all the tools to do a points, plugs and condenser tune up I still have a fair amount of cam lube for the distributor in a tube. I owned a repair shop and I still have a box of points and such somewhere.

I remember when the code scanners were over 1K when they first came out. Just bought one off Ebay for $35 with shipping.

A very different world from 30 years ago.

Ed Jones said...

I just put plugs, wires, points, condenser, rotor and cap on my 1952 Ford 8N tractor. I also converted it over to 12 Volts. Maybe it will start when it is below freezing this year and I need to plow snow.

JoeMama said...

Thanks for writing this post. Buying a tester has been on my to-do list for a while. Your blog convinced me to pull the trigger.

Now I have to figure out which dog gets the honor of "giving" it to me for Christmas.