I got really frustrated this past weekend. I didn’t get to finish something I started. When I bought my car to drive back and forth to work to save money, I knew it needed some work done to it. In order to save money, I’ve been doing all the work myself.
This car has leaked oil since the day I got it. I thought I narrowed it down to the crankshaft seal. It’s a $13 part, but a ton of labor would be involved in replacing it (you have to take apart half the engine to get to it). So I figured it would be a good project for me to learn, and save me hundreds of dollars in the process.
It took me two weeks to get it done, but I got that seal swapped out, along with changing the 3 belts on the car (another $30-$40 for all the belts combined). The only problem is that the car still leaked oil. I figured the oil pan gasket needed to be changed as well (another $15 part), so I was going to change it the next time I changed my oil.
That was a week ago now. I drained the oil from the car, and started taking the pan off. It’s a simple procedure. It’s just taking a lot of bolts and screws off, dropping the pan, cleaning the area, applying a new gasket and some sealant, and reinstalling it. The problem I ran into was in taking the exhaust apart to get to one little screw on the drain pan.
Two bolts wouldn’t come off. Keep in mind that they have been stuck in place for the past 15 years, so they are really stubborn. The problem is that when I put my socket on the bolt, it doesn’t fit all the way on. These two bolts must have malformed over the years. So I try to break it off, and my socket just slips off the bolt, and rounds it out more each time.
After trying everything I can to try to get the drain pan off without removing the exhaust, I finally gave up. I figured I’d put it all back together, and either mess with it later or take it somewhere and pay someone to fix it. It was extremely frustrating, and I couldn’t let my car sit any longer.
But I didn’t give up. Now I know I can work on just those two bolts without taking anything else apart, so I can mess with it even before I need to change the oil again. I’ll have to figure out some way of getting the bolts off. If I can’t get them off, I might even be able to take it somewhere and see if they can just break those two bolts off for me. If I can get that done, it would be a lot less than paying someone to do all the work to replace the gasket, and the rest would be easy work.
Somewhere throughout this process, I realized that the gasket I replaced before wasn’t even bad. It’s the drain pan that’s got a leak right around where the crankshaft gasket was, so it just looked like it was leaking from there. Oh well, at least it was a good learning experience for me. Now I have the knowledge and confidence to do more work myself on my own vehicles. So that cheap investment of replacing the belts and seal will pay for itself in the long run.
Every experience doesn’t have to have a positive result for it to be worthwhile. Knowledge comes with each and every experience, and that knowledge allows you to expand your skills. So try something new, and don’t worry if you fail. You’ll always gain experience from it, and it might help you with something else down the road.