Last March, I bought a car to save miles on the truck. Literally a brother-in-law deal, I bought a 2001 Mercury Gran Marquis from my brother-in-law. It served them well for several years, and suddenly became an extra car. I was looking for an extra car, so I made the deal.
Almost immediately, the Check Engine light came on. I went by Auto Zone and got it checked. Something about insuffecient coolant temperature. So, I flushed the radiator, got all manner of nasty coolant out of there, and re-filled it with good antifreeze. It ran, it started, it did everything that a car was supposed to do, but it had an annoying miss, and the engine temp gage stayed way down in the cool range. So, I asked around, did my research, and found a mechanic that several friends vouched for. Just before Christmas I took it to him, and he checked it, told me that a couple of sparkplugs were misfiring. I told him I'd bring it back after the first of the year. Sure 'nuff, on January 2nd, I pulled it into his shop. He said he'd call me later that day.
He called in the late afternoon, found another problem. The valve cover gaskets were leaking, and throwing oil into the coil packs. I needed to change the valve cover gaskets, so I told him to go ahead. Evidently, that's a major job because he gave me a major estimate. A little Googling and I found that changing the valve cover gaskets on a Ford 4.6L engine ain't like it used to be. It used to be a 20 minute job on the old engines I once worked on. Now, you've just about got to disassemble the engine, or all the crap on top of it, just to get to the valve covers.
Okay, I told him. Do it. About two days later he called back, asked me to come by the shop. I went by the shop and he showed me that when he took the valve covers off, the timing chain was loose. Very loose. The guides were gone. Decision time. I gritted my teeth and told him to continue. New chains, sprockets, guides, tensioner, everything is brand new in the front of the block. I cried, paid him his wage, and brought the car home. Running fine. Took Milady out and the Check Engine light came on. And the water temp gage on the dashboard was way down to the cool side.
I took it back to him today, and he put his little code reader on it. Insufficient coolant temperature. The thermostat is stuck open. The engine never really gets to operating temperature. He commences to telling me how easy it is to replace the thermostat. Ten minute job. Any fool can do it. Then I notice that there is an auto parts store 50 yards from his shop.
"Look", I says. "You gave me a good screwing on that last job. How about a reach-around on a thermostat? I'll buy it, and you install it. It's an easy job, remember?
"Yeah," he says. "We can do that. Go buy a thermostat." One 10mm socket, ten minutes later, we were done. The engine temp gage got nicely in the middle of the range and stayed there all the way home.
Hopefully, my car is fixed. I love that car.