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Tuesday
Mar182014

Update March 2014

Its still winter, although spring is only a few days away. Been colder than usual, and as you know with cold there are always a few additional clunks, clanks, noises coming from any vehicle.

"Walter" is no exception making its contribution towards a few more sounds especially when starting on a brisk morning.

As you can imagine we are compiling our mental list for the upcoming spring inspection.

With cold weather the ticking valves until the engine warms up are more pronounced, and a few other sounds that go away ounce operating temperature is reached. 

Its up to 149,000 kilometers...agreed still a way to reach 200K.

The car has been on a few road trips as well as the usual errands on surface streets. It starts, it warms up quickly, and runs very well under the present conditions. Obvious...there are new wiper blades, winter tires, regular fill ups of windshield washer fluid. There are benefits to a 7 liter winshsield washer container.

As you can see from the photo salt is used profusely to keep roads in driveable conditions.

The sensor on the rear axle is increasingly acting up, with a few lights blinking in the dash, we are waiting for warmer weather to do an update. When the sensor on the axle acts up it affects the ABS, ESP, SBC, and traction controls, its the joy of a car with all sorts of tehcnology. 

As you know cold conditions are not ideal for any kind of fuel economy, whatever it is we simply gas up the car, on the highway it tends to use an additional liter to cover 100 kilometers.

On the list for "spring"

 

  • The right rear axle.
  • There is still a minor clunking sound from the front suspension.
  • Oil change
  • Check the rear suspension which drops down in cold temperatures.

 

The car does what its supposed to do, and does it very well under the present frigid conditions.

 

Tuesday
Jan142014

Ouch Revisited

Its fascinating when cars tend to act up around the same time on consecutive years. If you remember last year around New Year we had an ouch experience with the rear suspension, which was resolved for a reasonable amount of money.

Yes...we counted ourselves fortunate at the time...wow averted a painful experience.

Around mid December 2013 the rear suspension is acting up again, with one side going down, and subsequently coming up when the car is started. While getting the lingering feeling that it might just get worse, we are nearing the end of the year.

The conclusion is that there is something strange going on with the rear suspension, in addition to a clunking sound from the front suspension. 

Its winter, its cold, who needs the aggravations...well on January 2, as anticipated the rear suspension is way down, and no longer comes up...interesting.

Try to get a car with no rear suspension on a flatbed, another interesting experience. This time the gut feeling was to not drive the car like last year. Something to do with being lucky once and perhaps not again. 

A call to our friendly mechanic "I'm sending you the car, its down, fix it."

This time its was the compressor that was defective, and it required 2 other suspension arms in the front.

Its a classic case of an 11 year old car with an air suspension, and a delicate front suspension with an accelerated wear curve. 

A few days, and an ouch later the car is up, the clunk is gone, and the sensor on a rear axle is acting up.

Its part of the joys of fooling around with an older car.

 

 

Wednesday
Nov272013

Update November 2013

Temperature sensorAs Project 200K progresses, there is a way to go, the car has 144,000 kms. Yes...we have done a bit of driving this past summer. 

What transpired during these past few months.

For the 3rd year at almost the same time of year (end of August), and with the same climatic conditions (hot, humid, and rain), returning from a road trip the air conditioning stops working. You almost can't make this stuff up, that for 3 consecutive years the air conditioning stops working under similar circumstances; at almost the same place on the 401.

This time the system shuts down, is it refrigerant, or something else. A visit to our friendly mechanic, and its some sort of temperature sensor (photo) behind the dash that is defective and shuts down the air conditioning.

At this point while delving in the HVAC system, the valve (under the hood) that controls the water flow for the 4 zones was replaced. We knew the valve was occasionally "acting up".Its a common/known issue, and especially during the summer hot air comes out of the rear vents when the valve "acts up".

Checking the entire HVAC system, replacing the sensor and valve amounted to a few hundreds.

From the new cabin filter during the previous visit, to replacing the temperature sensor, and valve we have hopefully resolved all the HVAC issues. Obvious that its more pleasant when its cool in the car on a warm day.

Although the Falken Azenis are great "sticky" summer tires, they are probably useless in snow. 

Falken Eurowinter HS449A quick word on tires:

As you know high performance tires do not last a long time. We drove approximately 80,000 kms on a set of summer and winter tires.

This car has 2 sets of wheels and tires, and 2013 is the year to replace tires. We replaced the summers in the spring and now came the time to replace the winters. We installed a set of Falken Eurowinter HS449  on the 17 inch winter wheels.

Agreed, replacing 2 sets of tires in one year ads up to a few thousands. Keeping in mind that these 2 sets will last a few years.

As winter arrived a few days ago, we also replaced the wiper blades. There are all sorts of wiper blades at all sorts of prices. For some reason the most expensive are from M-B and they are also the ones that work the best.

Perhaps we forgot to mention, this past summer "Walter's" paint was clay barred to remove all sorts of stuff that makes its way on the paint of cars, and was waxed. Yes...its good exercise to clay bar and wax a car.

Wondering about fuel economy on surface streets and short trips? Take a look at Walter's fuel economy, as you probably know colder weather is not conducise to improved economy.

 

Thursday
Aug222013

Update August 2013

The car has been hauling all sorts of stuff in the trunk and folded back seat, and went around like a utility vehicle for a while...great to make good use of a car while listening to "Hotel California".

Its been on a few road trips and reached 139,000 kms...yes we are slowly increasing the kilometers. 

In case we forget, the"rust blob" on the right quarter panel as it joins the wheel opening and bumper is growing. Perhaps typical of a 10 year old Benz...but also annoying!

The Falken tires are simply amazing, smooth, sticky, great in rain...and fun in on/off ramp situations. Trying to set up the ideal ramp moment does not work since someone will usually get in the way at some point. But when it all comes together its a great moment.

Going by the service schedule displayed in the dash, the car requires a service at every 20 to 22,000 kms. We did an oil change last year prior to winter at around 128,000 kms not due for an oil change yet (12,000 kms remaining), but the "noisy" lifter started acting up on this last road trip when starting cold in the morning. The lifter sound is irritating...

In addition the air in the car was a little stale, its the cabin filter that picks up humidity, and starts emanating occasional stale odours. As usual since its progressive its almost seems normal, until the filter is replaced.

We had not replaced the air filters in a while too, although with our use of the car they could have gone longer.

Here is the deal: 

The oil filter OEM part is 25.45 when you see the size of the box you wonder how M-B arrives at a price of 25 bucks, the air filters are 78.15 for both, again you truly wonder how they arrive at such a price for a couple of generic filters. The cabin filter is 39.80 its charcoal activated it sort of makes sense. Almost 150 for a bunch of paper in boxes. The oil and air filters in the after market are dramatically less money...not so much the cabin filter.

The "old school" rule for oil...as an engine accumulates wear and tear, or when you "blueprinted" an engine back in the day and increased the clearances (less friction) you would run a higher viscosity oil. 

Way back in the day it was straight 30 or perhaps 40 in a "blueprinted" engine, then progressed to 20W50.

With the advent of synthetic oils viscosity requirements have diminished, its now 0W30 or 5W30 which works fine and is usually recommended by a myriad of manufacturers. 

This engine runs on Motul 5W40, and we instinctively know when the oil is on the downward slope of the bell graph, at about 10,000 kms we change the oil even if the dash indicator advises of 12,000 kms remaining.

Agreed...we can entertain all sorts of discussion on the viscosity of oils, and various manufacturers recommendations. In this instance its our car, and 5W40 works well, this car spends more time on the highway taching 2300-2400 RPM than crawling in congestion. 

Fresh oil, fresh air filters...the engine breathes better, fresh cabin filter...the occupants breathe better.

In addition we replaced the Xenon bulbs in the headlamps, these bulbs progressively lose their power/brightness with time. They wear out especially that they are part of the DRL (day time running lights) and are always on. The new bulbs make an appreciable difference. Yes...you can find Xenon bulbs in the after market at substantial savings...which is precisely what we did.

With a few additional stone chips on the hood, increased abrasion of the windshield and "Walter" keeps on going. 

 

Monday
May272013

Update May 2013

Although its Poject 200K we are wondering when we will reach 200K with this car, in December 2012 the car had 128,000 kms and after two road trips it now has 134,000 kms. it has a way to go before reaching 200K.

What has been going on for the past few months?

 

  • After the "Ouch" was resolved in January, and we did an oil change too, we have used the car sparingly, and its been parked a few times while we were driving other cars. 
  • Agreed that 5,000 kms in 6 months is not much usage.
  • We did not spend any money maintaining the cars during this time, obvious we invested enough last year.
  • This past winter the sticky lifter did not act up, was it fresh oil prior to winter?
  • The A/C is blowing cold...yes we were surprised...almost expected the A/C to act up, but not yet.
  • We have some stuff going on and the folding back seat is very useful...we even put a lawn mower in its box in the trunk/ rear seat. Agreed we are huge fans of folding rear seats in  sedan, especially when they fold flat, with the seat cushion folding out of the way, and also being completely removeable.
  • Surprising how much stuff and how big you can fit in the trunk, rear seat combination.
  • At the time the folding rear seat option was a ridiculous price of over $1,000...which seemed crazy until you put it to good use.
  • Fuel economy on the highway cruising at about 2,300/2,400 RPM is constantly in the 9.6 to 9.8 liters per 100 kms.

Obvious that we need to have some challenges with an older car, if you remember we had a rumbling sound coming from the front, which seeamed like wheel bearings or tires...we eliminated the wheel bearing variable in the fall.

Our conclusions with this car...

 

  • High performance summer tires, the first half of the tire from new to 50% wear, is dramatically better than the second half from 50% wear to lower (25%)....especially when tires are also a few years old (swapping summers/winters).
  • The same applies to winter tires, the second half is not interesting, the winter tires were increasingly rumbling this year.

 

This year the car required new summer tires, we installed a set of Falken Azenis FK483 strange name, awesome tires.

Yes Falken is involved in racing.

The rumbling sound is gone, we have through the years found that Michelin tires are rounder and smoother that most other tires, these tires are just as good.

By now you probably know that we enjoy our "moments" on our favorite on/off ramps. The reason we like V8's, big brakes, high performance summer tires. 

The tires have a superior performance envelope, which is truly exhilerating. Performing at several increments higher than our previous summer tires. 

To be blunt a 5 point harness would be useful to truly work the tires.

The car has a name "WALTER"