Sunday, July 30, 2006

Making Repairs

I spent a good part of the day working on the van we bought last week. The oil was black and there was some soot in the muffler. The former tells me that the oil hasn't been changed in a while. The latter tells me that it has had poor combustion. The van lacks oomph while tackling the hills up here. I changed the oil and replaced the spark plugs and wires. Next weekend, I will replace the distributor cap and rotor. It's better, but not running smoothly. It took forever to do because of the locations of the spark plugs. You can accurately describe it by saying that it's a bitch to change the spark plugs. This is for a '93 Ford Aerostar with a 3.0 L engine. It may be possible that it doesn't have much go because it is a 3.0 L engine rather than the 4.0 L. In any case, it was an arduous process I don't wish to repeat.
Our relatives downstairs had trouble with their more recent model Ford F-150. Some bonehead engineer made access to the spark plugs vertical on the larger engines. When you drive through water, as was necessary this morning in some flooded areas, the water pools around the spark plugs and causes misfires. That was a pain too. You engineers at UTPA who are going to work for car companies need to keep maintenance of vehicles in mind when you design them. And don't do something stupid like put spark plugs at the bottom of a vertical column where water can collect when drivers go through puddles.
It is customary for migrants to fix their own cars. It's rare to find a migrant visiting a local mechanic. The cost of professional repairs makes the whole thing too expensive for migrant wages. You'll often see migrants working on their own vehicles and, if they have friends, doing it with their friends over a few beers. You have to be self sufficient to some extent to make it.

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