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Thread: Small Cars

  1. #1
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's you could buy a car and know you could work on it. Sure there were some complicated things but you could do the basics...

    Things Like:
    • Change the Oil
    • Change the Spark Plugs
    • Make sure the Timing is correct
    • Change the Alternator (really old cars had a generator)
    • Rebuild the carburator
    • Change the Brakes
    • Change the Belts (Used to be called a Fan Belt because they actually attached to a fan)


    So I have a newer small car... Well not too new, it is a 93 Saturn but it just got 100,000 miles on it. So I was driving home on Friday and the Alternator/Voltage Regulator appears to have gone out. So I coast home on battery power.

    Now I go to change the Alternator, which I have done numerous times before and even done on a smaller car (a Ford Festiva). So I pull out my Chilton's (a manual on the car) guide and proceed. First I must remove the right tire and flaring protecting the engine from moving parts. Then I must release an engine brace and remove the Alternator cover.. So far no problems. Now comes the Alternator. Well the lower bolt is easy comes right out. The second bolt on the other hand can't be reached without pulling the entire engine out of the compartment. The Chilton's says it can (it lied), Saturn Parts and Service says it can (they lied). To get to the bolt I would need a 18 inch long 13 millimeter wrench. To put enough pressure on the bolt to loosen it, you would either bend or snap the wrench or both.

    Now while I like my car, I find it difficult to believe Saturn didn't do this on purpose so the Garage Mechanic, couldn't replace this by himself. If I did it myself it would cost me $150 for the parts. If I take it to a mechanic or Saturn (since most mechanics won't work on a Saturn anyway, I just can't imagine why) it would cost me almost $500. Now they get the parts cheaper than I do since I am paying retail. The rest is just labor... They quoted me $85 an hour minimum of four hours.

    Oh Well, I am going to have a friend come over tomorrow and see if we can get it out. I just needed to rant. The good thing is with all the flaring already off, I can change the oil and give it a tune-up while it is on the jackstands.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict jamesglewisf's Avatar
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    Most people don't work on their own cars anymore. There are so many computer driven functions and they have worked hard to squeeze as big an engine as they can into as small a space as they can. Obviously, it helps the service companies. But it doesn't help them when the car is still under warranty. I think it has more to do with the complexity and the size than anything else.
    Jim Lewis
    To BE or Not to BE, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barium Enema
    FrappyDoo Forums

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Yep Wayne...i agree with what you said.

    Plus|>Every car have their winshield glued to your car. 10/15 years ago it was not more than 20 minutes to change your winshield (and i wasn't that expensive)..now you can't anymore(or if you try you may have a lot of trouble doing it!).

    I don't know much about usa, but in europe the car are smaller and smaller.... You can not do much yourself anymore, it really sound like the car have been built around the engine!

    I'm not really sure that's helping the car company when they have to work on the cars, since they often need special tools! But for sure, that's not helping us!
    That's certainly a way for them to obligate you to see a company dealer in order to have you car fixed!
    Not much to do about this...except driving a 20 years old cars!


  4. #4
    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Fluffykins's Avatar
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    I quite like small cars. I'll admit to knowing nothing whatsoever about engines or anything like that.

    My only real rant about small cars is the total lack of space. Being 6'7" in a Fiat Punto is a little murder on the knee-caps!

    Ady
    v-technologies - Freelance Goodness.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict Brian Asselin's Avatar
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    Boy am I glad to have my car It's an '84 Chevy Monte Carlo. Its huge (sure makes you feel safer) comfortable (like driving around in a lazy boy) I can do all the work myself (though it rarely ever needs anything) It has plenty of power ('71 Vette LTI 350), only downside is I get 12 MPG (and gas is like $1.75 around here for premium)


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